If you are a first time horse owner, one of the first decisions you have to make is how you are going to stable your horse. And if putting up a stable in your back garden isn’t an option, you’ll need to make a decision about the type of livery service that best suits your needs. And there are plenty to choice from.
A full livery service is typically the most complete, and expensive, level of horse care service available. The stable yard will take care of all the day to day maintenance including mucking out, feeding, grooming, exercise and even training in the owner’s choice of activity.
This type of service gives the owner complete peace of mind and minimal hassle. All you need to do is show up whenever you want to spend time with your horse.
If you don’t have much experience with horses, or have a particularly difficult horse, a schooling livery might be the way to go. These facilities offer a very specialist area of equine care where horses are broken in or re-trained. Sometimes referred to as the break and school service, they are popular with first time owners who have relatively little time to work with a young horse. Once a horse is broken in and well trained, however, you may choose to move on to a more cost-effective/less intensive livery service.
These types of liveries are aimed at people looking to enter their animal into a competition of some kind. Sometimes a livery yard will specialise in a particular area that the site manager has an interest in. They can be particularly useful if you are looking to compete in a sport like show jumping as your horse will reside in a suitable atmosphere and in the hands of a trainer who knows what they are doing.
Fees for competition liveries tend to vary depending on the level of training they receive. Obviously, liveries with an Olympic level trainer will cost substantially more than a standard yard, but charges for a decent level of care can be quite reasonable.
A part livery service is a split responsibility situation. The most basic part of the maintenance is provided by the yard. This can include day-to-day essential activities like mucking out, food replenishment and turning out. However, the owner is typically responsible for exercising, grooming and providing necessary tack/saddlery.
Part livery services can vary widely, so it is important to check exactly what is included in your package. Certain yards will be very flexible around your needs and day to day routine, so may be able to offer you more services for an extra charge.
DIY liveries are exactly as they sound, you ‘do it yourself’ and are typically the cheapest livery service available. The yard may supply the bare minimum i.e. the stable and grazing, but it is down to the owner to provide bedding, feed, turn the horse out, as well as exercise them etc.
DIY liveries are commonly found on farms where the land owner is renting out spare space. It may be possible to purchase hay/straw from the farmer, but other feed will most likely need to be sourced elsewhere. As with all types of livery, services will vary on the facility itself and you may be able to negotiate extras to make things more flexible for you.
Whats best for you?
Choosing how and where to stable your horse is a decision that should not be taken lightly. To work out whats suitable, you need to first consider your budgetary constraints and then the amount time you have available to commit. Other factors to consider include access to bridleways, hacking trails and arenas.
Spending time to make the right decision ensures you and your horse will be happy for years to come.