Some tips and advice on livery by Jane 



When people become proficient and keen to 'do more', they often ask me what is entailed, or how they go about buying their own horse.  So I thought I would jot down some useful pointers.


Firstly, buying your own horse.


1.         This is a huge commitment!  A horse is a big animal and needs daily care and exercise.  Take into consideration work/school commitments.  Will you be able to ride each day?  or at least go to the yard where your horse is kept to check on it.


2.         You have two options really for livery.  One is full livery and the other D.I.Y. (do it yourself). I will go into more detail later, but basically on full livery the daily care of the horse is done by the livery yard and you pay for that service.  With D.I.Y. you rent the stable and provide feed and bedding yourself and muck out, turn out etc. yourself.  As you can see, D.I.Y. requires much more time and commitment, but this is reflected in the price!  Full livery comes at a premium but there is less responsibility on the owner, so if you are short of time this is a far better option, or if you are a novice/1st time horse owner, full livery will give you the support and advice you need until you learn how to look after a horse yourself.


3.         Before you buy your horse, you need to consider which type of livery you will prefer, then ring some yards to ask about availability, and maybe organise a visit to look around.  Ask about the service provided, check procedures and safety on the yard.  Look at turn out facilities, also riding facilities.  If you like to hack, make sure there are plenty of bridle paths or off road riding areas.  If you prefer to school, look at the arena surface and find out when you can use it.  If the livery yard is attached to a riding school, times may be limited.  Also, check how far the yard is away from your house, you don't want to spend an hour travelling there every day.


Find out if the yard has an Instructor who will give you lessons, or if they haven't, they may have a visiting Instructor, or could you bring your own?  If you want to hack, are there like minded people on the yard to hack with?  If you plan to be competitive, again ask if other people on the yard compete, they could share transport costs and it's more fun to have company.  Does the yard arrange competitions?


4.         Once you have the yard sorted out you can start looking for a horse!


5.         There are various places to look.  Local press, websites, tack shops.  Ask your Instructor, they can net work a host of colleagues, and generally it's safer to buy from someone you know or someone you know knows.


6.         Sit down and decide what kind of horse you would like.

a)         size

b)         age range

c)         experience

d)         breed / colour

e)         price range

f)          distance you will travel to look at a horse

7.         Ask the advice of an experienced person or your Instructor.  Ask them to come and look with you.


8.         Once you see a horse advertised that you are interested in, ring the owner, get more information and then arrange to go and try the horse.


9.         Watch the horse being handled, caught, groomed, tacked up.  Ask to see it ridden before you try it yourself.  If you like it discuss a price.  I would advise having the horse vetted to make sure it has no ailments or problems that the owner may not even know about.  I would also suggest that you try it several times, it is a big commitment and an expensive asset, so try until you are sure.

I could talk about buying horses all day but I just want to give some pointers so I'm making it brief.


10.       Once you have purchased your horse you will probably want to insure it.  There are different levels of cover.  Look in horse magazines or internet for insurance.


11.       Check if tack is included in the price.  If not, you need to arrange for a saddle fitter. 


12.       Transport may be needed to take the horse home if the previous owner cannot deliver.  Again, local horse press or internet will have transport companies.


13.       Your livery yard will probably insist on the horse being wormed on arrival and kept in for 48 hours.  This is not a bad thing, it gives the horse time to get used to its new surroundings and it gives the other horses on the yard a chance to see and smell the new arrival to their herd.

Worming is very important and most yards have a worming programme in place.  New arrivals are wormed because the livery yard will not know the worming history and could put other horses at risk by letting them graze together before this is done.  The cost of worming will be additional to your livery cost.


14.       The horse may need to be shod.  Your livery yard may have a regular farrier so ask the manager.


15.       It may also need its teeth checked.  This is an annual expense, again, check with the manager of your yard.


16.       Your horse should come with a passport.  Check with when it last had its inoculations for flu and tetanus, again a yearly expense.

The 'call out' charge is expensive, usually about £50.00, so try and share visits, or maybe get injections done when the vet is out 'vetting' the horse prior to purchase.  Just make sure you are definitely buying it or else this is a big waste of money.


17.             Your livery yard will probably ask you to read and sign a contract.  Each yard will vary in content.  It should tell you what service is provided so that you care clear what to expect, also it will give you details of notice period if you want to leave.



These are the annual outgoings when owning a horse.

  • Livery
  • Insurance
  • Worming
  • Farrier cost
  • Riding lessons
  • Vaccinations
  • Vets fees
  • Clipping
  • Competition entries - if relevant
  • Transport costs - if relevant

This is a huge subject and I have just scratched the surface. I hope it has been helpful.



Livery Service




The following facilities and services will be available on full livery, paid in advance every four weeks, cost on application.


1.         Use of a loose box

2.         Use of tack room and facilities including water, electric etc.

3.         Free parking for trailers and horse boxes.

4.         24hr supervision

5.         Straw bedding (any other must be provided at the owners expense).

6.         Hard feed, grazing and hay when necessary.

7.         Stable staff and services e.g.

            - daily mucking out and bedding down

            - turning out and bringing in

            - quartering to make the horse comfortable (not a thorough groom)

8.         Use of the indoor and outdoor arenas when not being used by the Centre.



Medical treatment such as hosing, bandaging etc. is not included in livery fees, however if necessary arrangements can be made for these procedures to be carried out at a cost arranged between the livery owner and the yard manager.




1.         All liveries must agree to comply with the rules set out in the Health & Safety policy of the Riding Centre.

2.         Owners are fully responsible for any damage to persons or property caused by, or in connection with, their horse.

3.         We advise all horses to be inoculated against flu and tetanus.

4.         The yard manager reserves the right to call a veterinary surgeon to a horse at any time and the owner agrees to be fully responsible for any cost incurred.  This is in case the owner cannot be contacted in an emergency.

5.         Horses must be wormed every 6-8 weeks, the cost of which is incurred by the owner.

6.         Shoeing is the responsibility of the owner and can be carried out by their own farrier or that of the Centre.

7.         No riding is allowed in the grazing areas.

8.         The Centres insurance does not cover tack or equipment of livery horses, and we advise appropriate cover is taken out.

9.         No persons are allowed on the yard before 7am or after 8pm without permission from the Manager.

10.       Exercise times should be given in advance so that feeds and turn outs can be organised.

11.       One months notice is needed before termination of contract on either side.

12.       In the event of a horse leaving the yard for any given time, livery must be paid to retain the stable.





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