Working Livery - good, bad? costs, fees, contracts?

Sandylou

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12 January 2011
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South Leicestershire
Hi all,

I am currently thinking about putting my superstar gelding on working livery at the riding school we're stabled at but I'm not sure of the ins & outs of this type of livery.

Do I still pay livery?
What would the riding school be responsible for with regards to welfare and stable duties? - he is a little on the flabby side at the moment and so needs to be stabled at least 4 nights a week. Would the riding school have any responsibility for managing his weight? Should they be mucking out?
All liveries are to be stabled at night during the winter so would the riding school be responsible for stable duties during winter?
Do I have control over whether he is 'loaned' to a riding school client? (the riding school runs a loan scheme where clients can pay a reduced rate for riding/caring for one particular horse several time a week)
Do I have a say as to what he is used for? i.e. what type of lessons, whether he can be taken to shows, fun rides, clinics at other yards, etc
If the riding school had him on "full working livery", how does this differ from them having him on full loan?

I really don't want anyone riding him but he needs the exercise at the minute and I'm pregnant so struggling to exercise him enough. I'd be quite happy for him to have the winter off and keep him on full livery (I'll be out of action for about 3 months from October due to a planned C-section) but would that be unfair to the riding school - i.e. would I be 'using' them when I need them and not really being of any benefit to them in the long run?

Any help and/or advice is much appreciated.
 

HorseMad91

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Hiya I had my mare on working livery years ago at the riding school where I kept her and i have and still am friends with the yard owner but honestly my mare hated it with different people riding her of different abilities so I had to take her out. Care wise it was similar to assisted livery if it was a day she was used in the school they would muck her out, bring in/turn out and feed. She was used for pony days and pony camp but she wasn't allowed to be borrowed for shows and outings.
Honestly I think you answered your own question with you don't want anyone else riding him. I know it's difficult, when I was pregnant I wasn't allowed to ride so I gave my horse the time off. Have you considered maybe just getting a sharer to help out with the jobs and ride him then it'll be a consistent person riding him and you'd get to make sure it's the right person for you and him.
Hope it helps and good luck with your pregnancy :)
 

EventingMum

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I have some working liveries and each agreement is different depending on the horse. For example one is owed by a disabled rider who just walks with the occasional trot so the work we give this horse keeps her schooled, fit and interested and lets her have an odd jump which she loves making her a better ride for her owner. Another is a TB eventer that only our better riders are allowed on, it gives them something different to ride which they enjoy and keeps her ticking over for her owner who has had to move away for work. She is for sale so won't be with us permanently but in the meantime the arrangement suits everyone. Our last one is a little PC/RC horse who is with us on long term loan as his owner is at uni - he is a superstar and can take riders of varying abilities.

The first horse's owner pays a reduced livery rate and we work round when they want to ride her themselves, they pay for all extras, farrier etc. The second two pay no livery but we have full use of them; we pay farrier and other costs including physio on the long term loan horse. Owners maintain their insurance but they are covered on our riding school insurance for liability etc.

OP I think you should negotiate what you want from the loan with the riding school as every scenario is different - perhaps they have a standard loan agreement which you can look at and see if it suits you. If you are still riding the horse I would expect you to contribute financially to some extent. It all really comes down to the trust between you and the riding school too, do you trust them to keep their word? You do hear some horror stories but other stories are fine, my liveries seem happy with our arrangements and I pride myself on looking after their horses as if they were my own - they can also check on them any time they like.
 

cobgoblin

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I was offered working livery when I was on livery at a riding school. I turned it down because I knew my horse would have hated being ridden by multiple people, I didn't want his mouth pulled about by novices and I didn't want him ridden by all the heavy clients....he was a 16.1hh heavy cob.
I also didn't fancy paying for all the extra shoes he would have needed which would have totally outweighed the livery savings.

You also have to consider that your horse might be injured whilst being ridden by a total stranger.
 

alainax

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I allowed my horse to be ridden by the working pupils while I was pregnant. Then I got a lovely girl who hacks him out ( and still does!).

How would you horse be with total novices on board? Could a sharer be an option?
 

Deltaflyer

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1 September 2014
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I sadly put Sam on WL when I first got him. We lasted two months before I gave them notice to take him off. He hated it with a passion. I hated other people riding him. He was a very green rising six when I got him and despite the LM and instructors telling me how green he was, because he was a good boy they put people on him who shouldn't have been riding a green horse. From a willing light off leg pleasure to ride in the school he turned in to a backward unenthusiastic chap who started bucking because people were getting after him when he didn't understand what they wanted.

I still pay the price for this two years later. He hates schooling with a passion. Doesn't help that they started pulling him out of lessons when he started playing up.

I was allowed no say in who rode him or what he did. I was horrified when I discovered he was being used for XC lessons. He only got hacked when I rode him.

For working livery you should expect a part livery service i.e everything included in exchange for a cheaper rate for them to use him for a set number of hours a week. If possible see if they do student livery where he'll only be ridden by those training for exams if the stables you are offer that. It means you get a certain standard of riders on board.

Personally, I'd never have a horse on WL again but I know it does work well for some.
 

Sandylou

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Have you considered maybe just getting a sharer to help out with the jobs and ride him then it'll be a consistent person riding him and you'd get to make sure it's the right person for you and him.
Hope it helps and good luck with your pregnancy :)
How would you horse be with total novices on board? Could a sharer be an option?
For some reason sharers/loaners seem to be like hens teeth in my neck of the woods. I might put an advert out tho and see what happens.

My horse doesn't cope well with total beginners and I would make it a condition that he's not to be used for beginners lessons. He wouldn't do anything horrible but he does worry and become anxious if his rider isn't relaxed and mostly balanced Plus I've put a lot of work into making him responsive to the leg and soft in the mouth and don't want that ruined.

PS - is anyone in South Leicestershire looking for something to ride for a few months??? :)
 

Sandylou

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12 January 2011
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South Leicestershire
I sadly put Sam on WL when I first got him. We lasted two months before I gave them notice to take him off. He hated it with a passion. I hated other people riding him. He was a very green rising six when I got him and despite the LM and instructors telling me how green he was, because he was a good boy they put people on him who shouldn't have been riding a green horse. From a willing light off leg pleasure to ride in the school he turned in to a backward unenthusiastic chap who started bucking because people were getting after him when he didn't understand what they wanted.

I still pay the price for this two years later. He hates schooling with a passion. Doesn't help that they started pulling him out of lessons when he started playing up.

I was allowed no say in who rode him or what he did. I was horrified when I discovered he was being used for XC lessons. He only got hacked when I rode him.

For working livery you should expect a part livery service i.e everything included in exchange for a cheaper rate for them to use him for a set number of hours a week. If possible see if they do student livery where he'll only be ridden by those training for exams if the stables you are offer that. It means you get a certain standard of riders on board.

Personally, I'd never have a horse on WL again but I know it does work well for some.
Poor you and Sam :(
This is what I'm worried about - will my lad be looked after and his happiness & wellbeing remain a priority or will the fact that he's such a good boy and will carry most riders make the colour of money more important?
 

be positive

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Most of your questions can only be answered by the RS as terms will vary from yard to yard but from my experience it is usually a win win for the RS with very little in it for the owner, the owner usually still pays livery, provides the horse fully equipped, is still responsible for insurance, which may go up as the risk of injury is potentially higher and needs to be in place for the same reason it will not be paid by the RS as they will be unlikely to insure individual horses, if they want to use him you will have little say in who rides him although could stop him being taken off the premises, other than for hacks.
It is similar to letting them go on loan but you are likely to still be paying for his keep, hence the win win for the RS as they get paid for livery and then more for him working.

I would not put any horse on working livery unless I knew how the yard used them, some will be far better than others, full livery and a sharer would be a better option, you may find a competent young person that is having lessons would be interested in exercising him regularly even if you let them have free riding in exchange for riding it may be more to your liking and help with his weight.
 

Sandylou

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I have some working liveries and each agreement is different depending on the horse. For example one is owed by a disabled rider who just walks with the occasional trot so the work we give this horse keeps her schooled, fit and interested and lets her have an odd jump which she loves making her a better ride for her owner. Another is a TB eventer that only our better riders are allowed on, it gives them something different to ride which they enjoy and keeps her ticking over for her owner who has had to move away for work. She is for sale so won't be with us permanently but in the meantime the arrangement suits everyone. Our last one is a little PC/RC horse who is with us on long term loan as his owner is at uni - he is a superstar and can take riders of varying abilities.

The first horse's owner pays a reduced livery rate and we work round when they want to ride her themselves, they pay for all extras, farrier etc. The second two pay no livery but we have full use of them; we pay farrier and other costs including physio on the long term loan horse. Owners maintain their insurance but they are covered on our riding school insurance for liability etc.

OP I think you should negotiate what you want from the loan with the riding school as every scenario is different - perhaps they have a standard loan agreement which you can look at and see if it suits you. If you are still riding the horse I would expect you to contribute financially to some extent. It all really comes down to the trust between you and the riding school too, do you trust them to keep their word? You do hear some horror stories but other stories are fine, my liveries seem happy with our arrangements and I pride myself on looking after their horses as if they were my own - they can also check on them any time they like.
What a shame you're not in Leicestershire!!
 

Deltaflyer

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Poor you and Sam :(
This is what I'm worried about - will my lad be looked after and his happiness & wellbeing remain a priority or will the fact that he's such a good boy and will carry most riders make the colour of money more important?
Sadly, when running a busy RS with a demanding landowner money does become a driver.

Whilst he was on WL, most other aspects I couldn't complain about. He was turned out during the day when not being used. His bed was always clean and deep, had plenty of hay and feed.

However, no matter how often I left clean saddle cloths out for them they always put the dirty one back on and he ended up with lumps all over his back where the saddle sat. They were supposed to clean tack weekly HA HA HA ! that never happened. And they do have a tendency that when a WL horse gets 'broken' they chuck it back to the owner to fix.

Sorry I'm sounding so negative about WL but I can only go my own experience. I do still keep him at the same yard on an assisted DIY basis.

It can also depend a lot on the actual horse. Some don't mind being ridden by different riders or doing nothing but schooling. Some hate it. Some tolerate it but loose their sparkle. As long as you ask the questions, give it a try if you like the answers. You could always have a re-think if you aren't keen on it after a few weeks, or your horse isn't. After all it is YOUR horse :)
 

Queenbee

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20 August 2007
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Cumbria
Hi all,

I am currently thinking about putting my superstar gelding on working livery at the riding school we're stabled at but I'm not sure of the ins & outs of this type of livery.

Do I still pay livery?
What would the riding school be responsible for with regards to welfare and stable duties? - he is a little on the flabby side at the moment and so needs to be stabled at least 4 nights a week. Would the riding school have any responsibility for managing his weight? Should they be mucking out?
All liveries are to be stabled at night during the winter so would the riding school be responsible for stable duties during winter?
Do I have control over whether he is 'loaned' to a riding school client? (the riding school runs a loan scheme where clients can pay a reduced rate for riding/caring for one particular horse several time a week)
Do I have a say as to what he is used for? i.e. what type of lessons, whether he can be taken to shows, fun rides, clinics at other yards, etc
If the riding school had him on "full working livery", how does this differ from them having him on full loan?

I really don't want anyone riding him but he needs the exercise at the minute and I'm pregnant so struggling to exercise him enough. I'd be quite happy for him to have the winter off and keep him on full livery (I'll be out of action for about 3 months from October due to a planned C-section) but would that be unfair to the riding school - i.e. would I be 'using' them when I need them and not really being of any benefit to them in the long run?

Any help and/or advice is much appreciated.
Standard WL is not something I would want for my horse.... lots of different riders of different abilities on his back. However, it may not be a doomed scenario in your case. (Congrats on the pregnancy by the way!). If your horse needs excising their loan scheme could actually be the way to go. Certainly worth a chat with them... You could stipulate that he is only for use by their loaner and that you would like to have some input as to who the loaner is. That way he gets 1 rider, that you can assess, they get something out of it... your horse is kept in a level of work and you know he is not being ridden by a whole host of riders of different abilities etc. It could be worth a chat with the YO to see if such an arrangement can be reached. On the days the lloaner does not ride you can pay the yard to do the general chores and handling
 

EBHouse

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26 May 2016
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I had my old boy on working livery for a long time - I work long hours and it took the pressure off me as he was mucked out every day and used up to three times a week for lessons so he stayed fit.

It had good and bad points.

+ Horse stayed fit.
+ Saved me money
+ More time for me to ride as he was on full livery as part of the deal
+ Less pressure on me to get up to yard
+ Quiet riding school so he wasn't used that much
+ Horse was very sharp so was only used for more experienced riders

HOWEVER
- Spent 20 minutes whenever I rode him correcting things that other riders would let him do
- Had to give the yard a week's notice whenever he absolutely couldn't be used by them
- Staff kept forgetting to tell me when he was being used so I would turn up at the yard to ride to find him already in a lesson
- Didn't know when he was jumped so I couldn't keep track of how much he had done, big chap so really didn't like him jumping more than twice a week
- Tack was put away by clients in all conditions, bent/backwards/upside down/inside out/covered in mud/trodden on. I had to clean other people's dirt and pay for other their mistakes. If I had super expensive tack I would have been raging!
- Horse was never brushed or washed off properly after lessons
- Someone fell off him after stating their ability was much better than it was and he was never quite the same in certain situations afterwards

Eventually I took him off WL as I found the bad outweighed the good. I think it depends on the yard, though. It could have worked really well for me had everything been properly organised and looked after.
 

MiJodsR2BlinkinTite

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Slopping along on a loose rein somewhere in Devon
I loaned my boy to an equestrian college for two years on "working livery". My Pro's and Con's list would be the same as "EBHouse" above's list. You have to accept that every numpty will ride your horse, and your lovely tack which you've lovingly cared for will get battered and bashed about a bit, plus you can kiss goodbye to your nice stirrup leathers, irons & reins that you treasure so highly!

Rugs too...... if and when you finish the arrangement you can't guarantee you will get "your" rugs back, just the reverse in fact - you'll get given whatever rugs (usually someone elses!) that happen to fit your horse at the time.
 

bex1984

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I have mine on working livery (in Leicestershire funnily enough! Are you on one of the big riding school yards here?? There are a few that I think could be great for WL?)

My pony loves it - he loves the kids, the fuss and the fun, he's very settled there as he was on livery before going into the riding school. They look after him perfectly although it's different because they all live out and he does look like a woolly mammoth in Winter, but he's kept fit and busy. I can ride him one or two days a week. We tailored a contract to work for us all - I think you need to ask all the questions in your post to the riding school and see whether you can come to an agreement to suit you and them.
 

alainax

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My horse doesn't cope well with total beginners and I would make it a condition that he's not to be used for beginners lessons. He wouldn't do anything horrible but he does worry and become anxious if his rider isn't relaxed and mostly balanced Plus I've put a lot of work into making him responsive to the leg and soft in the mouth and don't want that ruined
From this comment working livery isn't going to work imo. If you have put a lot of work in to get him soft and responsive, I don't think it would be wise to let him be used in client lessons.
 

Sugar_and_Spice

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You asked about full livery and would you be using the yard when it suits you and dropping them when it doesn't. The answer is yes, but that's what you're paying them for, so it doesn't matter. If you'd rather have 3mths full livery over winter then go back to DIY that's fine, as long as they don't decide you're now a full livery and let out the DIY space to a new person (some yards have a set number of spaces for each because they don't want a totally DIY yard). But don't feel bad about "using" them, you're a paying customer making use of a service that's offered.

I liveried on a riding school with working liveries, I was one of a few full liveries there. Working livery the horse was treated as for full livery except the price was halved and the horse used daily in lessons instead.

The owner provided tack, many of them had a separate set of tack for the riding school to use. If tack was broken by the riding school, the horse owner had to repair/replace it. Tack cleaning consisted of dipping a bar of saddle soap in water, rubbing a sponge on it and smearing the resulting foam over the top of the saddle flaps/seat, dirt wasn't removed first and the rest of the saddle wasn't cleaned or oiled, they ended up rock hard and with ingrained dirt. Bridles had the bits washed off daily and the same treatment with the saddle soap weekly, they were cleaned fully fastened never taken apart and ended up thick and sticky with dirt/grease. Numnahs/ rugs etc were washed by the horse owner, if at all. My full livery horse or his tack was never used in the riding school, which happens at some less-than-honest places.

If the horse was injured or ill, the vet bill belonged to the horse owner and the riding school wouldn't take the horse back onto working livery until it was fully recovered and fully fit again. The owner had to pay full livery rates and bring the horse back to full fitness themselves, which for those on working livery due to lack of time to ride was a difficult situation.

I can second what was said by another poster about stuff going missing. I asked when I arrived if I should provide haynets/water buckets etc like I normally would on full livery and was told I could if I wanted to. I decided not to. I did provide a cheap headcollar/leadrope, as I do on any yard. I never saw it again after 3wks, which is why I only ever provide cheap ones. I didn't replace it and they used whatever was to hand to turn in/out. As I was full livery my horse did get to keep his own rugs though, I've no idea if this was the same for the working liveries. I politely declined to provide fly spray in summer, suspecting it would last a matter of days having been sprayed onto 40 horses. If the yard dealt with any minor injuries, I always let them use their own first aid kit and bill me for replacement items. When I originally let them use my first aid kit I found I was still billed for replacement items which then went into their kit.

Care was basic and they couldn't be relied on to do any extras at all eg soak hay for a horse with a dust allergy. If I was there and soaked the haynet, I'd have to stand with it while it drained. If I didn't, yard staff would simply assume it was spare and take it to give to another horse.

It was a good yard for the price and I liked it there but I'd not have had my horse on working livery for the world. Those that did were happy hackers who never schooled their horses and only ever rode on weekends or if they had a day off in the week. They were mostly happy with the arrangements for working livery and glad to have a fit horse at their disposal ready to be ragged about the countryside for a few hours a week.
 

Zipzop

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I work on a RS and we have a few WL. Ours is not bad by any means , in fact the horses are treated quite well and the horses are not allowed to do any more than a few hours a day.
However, saying that, save your horse physical and mental anguish and do not put him on WL. It is not a fun life for a any horse working on a RS!
 

TwyfordM

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I work on a RS too, definitely has its pros and cons and depends entirely on the horses temperament if they will get on there. Care is the same as any basic full livery yard, basic feed included so standard nuts, mix, chaff and sugar beet.
The horse wouldn't be expected to do more than a few hours a day a few times a week. They generally try to fit in around owners if they say when they are going to ride but obviously if you popped up out of the blue you might find your horse on a lesson. But this is a fairly big RS, they have a fair amount of their own horses so they are not so reliant on WL its just handy to give their own a break.
But I can see it being more of a problem on smaller RS where they are reliant on having WL to give them enough horses to use for lessons. In that case you would probably find there's less flexibility for owners.
 

w1bbler

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I worked in a rs years ago. The wl's were supposed to do no more than 2 hours a day, but yo would often"add the hours up" & the horses could end up doing 6 hours on Saturday & or Sunday when she was busy, justifying it as they had still done less than the contracted 14hrs.
Definately keep an eye / make sure you really know the yard & be prepared for lots or re schooling when you're back on board.
 

Cowpony

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Mine was on working livery for a couple of years and it worked quite well for me as I work full time, but I now have a sharer and it is so much nicer! I don't have to spend at least one session a week reminding my horse of what she had forgotten since I last rode her; I don't have to spend part of every weekend tracking down bits of kit that have "walked"; I don't have to tell the RS every time I may want to ride, in advance. On the downside, I spend much more time bringing in and turning out; I have to be there for the farrier; I have to buy in my own hard feed (I buy hay and straw from the RS). I still get support from the RS in many areas - there are always people going up and down to the field so if anything was amiss somebody would spot it; if I need to rush off I can pay them to turn out for me; there is always somebody around to help if I need it. In return I sometimes take one of the RS horses up to the field with mine if they don't have enough helpers around; I sweep more than just the area around my stable; if I see something wrong with one of the RS horses I will put it right. So there is goodwill on both sides and it works well.
 

McFluff

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This is a real case of 'it depends'. Your original list of questions would be a great place to start discussions with the RS. It is so important that you are clear on what you want to get out of the arrangement - otherwise it could quickly go pear-shaped. You may have to pay more to get all the other elements that you want/need. I have two (both positive) perspectives:

My own boy is on working livery (but for hacking, not schooling - he hates working in a school, thinks circles are pointless!). It suits him perfectly - he is treated like their own, all his work is recorded and helps keep him fit and at a great weight (otherwise he would be on a permanent diet). He is fine with different riders, and they make sure they match people well (he isn't good with really tense people or really unbalanced people - but gives more experienced/confident people are really fun ride). I don't ride him that much (my own restrictions), but when I do, I just let them know and I get priority. I've never had any issues. I effectively pay grass livery, and he is treated on full livery. They pay for his hay, feed, feet, and front shoes when he needs them (usually the summer, the beach is like sandpaper on their feet). I pay vet fees and provide tack/rugs. Generally speaking they are good at using his tack solely on him. We have had some moments - and I have learned that the nicer the kit is, the more likely it is to be 'borrowed'. I am currently sourcing new stirrups/leathers, and am searching for something that won't be attractive to borrow for Pony Club stuff!

My best friend keeps her pony on working livery at a riding school. It works perfectly for them both, but this is an exceptionally good school with very high standards. He is used for a few hours a week, and is otherwise on full livery for her use. She usually agrees her time in advance (but that is partly required to book the school as much as the pony). They treat him as if he was on full livery. All clients are carefully selected and matched to horses, and they are very good at spotting when a horse needs a break or change. I don't know the financial arrangements, but know it is cheaper than full livery and he is kept fitter than she could on her own (it is her instructor who teaches on him, so his schooling is kept up too). Equipment is used strictly for each pony and it never goes missing. Tack is cleaned properly and checked. She is asked to replace anything that is worn/too unsafe to keep using.

My mare is on full livery, my use only. She is very sensitive, so I wouldn't use her for WL. If I ever had to seek help, I would only consider a loan arrangement through the RS (so they helped to supervise it) or a sharer. I hope never to need to.

Good luck with whatever you decide, and congratulations on your pregnancy.
 

EmmasMummy

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I had my cob on working livery when I just had my daughter. I paid £40 a month and he was used in the school, and I also got half prices lessons on him. It was ok, and obviously the life of a RS horse is different than your own horse or pony. I had no specifications on what he couldn't do though and they quickly worked out what type of rider he needed.

I looked into putting our pony on working livery to get him ridden more and also save costs. A lot has changed in 7 years as places now wasn't MORE than even grass livery as they view the pony being used in the riding school as it being 'worked, as in schooled....which is hilarious for an 11hh pony going to be ridden by tots!
 

Getoutmypockets

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22 June 2015
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I ventured into this at a yard I work at today! As staff I have livery, everyone has always been respectful and on a wim my horses went through the vetting this week as a 'well it won't cost me and could be useful or I may never use it' school of thought. I choose if and when my horses are used and riders so slightly different as I'm on diy so no price reduction and it's on my own back if I choose to have them ridden for my convience!

Working all day today after a 6 day week with my horses at the gate (with expanding waistlines) I decided to give it a go, for the teenagers that help to have a free ride in return for help. They did a lesson each and I do not regret it atall. My horses enjoyed the work and as they were a novelty everyone was eager to groom and fuss them whilst i was busy! However despite best intentions I'm sure my tack is in a wonky jumble for me to sort tomorrow 😂

However I couldn't cope with them being used by people I don't know, don't know their riding, and I certainly don't want to hear complaints, after all to me they are amazing.

It can work on an official level if your quite business like about it but yes prepare for things to go missing, tack not to be as you left it and general mistakes that may happen. For now I'm on cloud 9 as my horses enjoyed their day however Im happy to take the lack of reduced money for control over who rides and what is done :)
 

Leo Walker

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Northampton
I think mine is the rare commodity that would be fine with it. He loves kids and he especially loves fuss and attention. He would also be completely unphased by novices, in fact if I'm honest he'd love an hours lead rein lesson as opposed to an hours schooling session :lol: It really wouldnt bother him in the slightest. I regularly abuse peoples good nature to get them to ride him for me and he currently has a "sharer" that is a family with 2 pre teen girls and a 5yr old. I'm quite happy for them both to ride him and for him then to do 5mins pony riding for the 5yr old.

I still wouldnt do it! They ride him under my supervision and I have the final say on what they do with him. As someone who worked as an instructor in a riding school for a fair few years, absolutely no way ever would he be put in that situation
 
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