So the horse bug has well and truly bitten, you know a fair amount about keeping horses and you think that you could make a great yard owner? There is always demand for a good yard, especially if the yard owner is approachable and manageable, so if you do it right, starting a livery yard could be a wonderful experience for you and a great opportunity for nearby horse owners.
Unless you’re taking over an existing livery yard and have no plans to change or add anything to the existing buildings, you’re probably going to have to apply for planning permission, which can be done online by clicking here. If you’re unsure on whether you’ll need planning permission, you can read more here and then possibly contact the relevant local authorities.
The Legal Stuff
You’ll also then need to register your business name, speak to lawyers and accountants and do all the boring “legal stuff” to ensure that you are running your business completely above board.
On top of this, once your livery yard dream is becoming a reality, you’ll need to take out the relevant insurance, and your yard setup and agreement might have an impact on what the right type is. Generally, you will need public liability insurance, but you might also require further insurance on top of that, which could include care and control, building or machinery insurance and many others. Your best bet is to speak to a reputable insurance company to discuss your needs and then compare some quotes to find the right option for you – but insurance is definitely necessary and should not be overlooked!
Type of Yard
Now that the logistics are out of the way, you can move on to the fun horse-related stuff! If you’re building new, then do some research on different layouts of yards, what works well and what doesn’t. For instance, one of the pet peeves of many horse owners is having to walk through other paddocks to fetch their horse, as it can be dangerous and stressful. If your yard will be large, consider having two tack rooms so that people don’t have to walk for miles carrying tack before they reach their stable.
The best way to secure paddocks (in terms of cost and protection provided) is through electric fencing. One of the best brands for electric fencing supplies is Hotline.
Once your yard is nearly ready to be open for business you’ll want to look at competition in the area, see what prices are being charged, what livery options are available and what facilities other yards have. Of course, Google and word of mouth should give you a good idea of the options, but Facebook is turning out to be a more and more important source of information with regards to horse classifieds, so post on some local groups and do your research! Make sure to make your pricing competitive, especially if your facilities or livery options are not too different to other yards in the area. Remember to draw up contracts for the different types of livery options, and ensure these contracts are legally binding.
Once you’ve decided on your price, how many horses you want to take and so on, marketing is the name of the game. Post adverts on popular horsey websites and Facebook groups, put flyers on your local tack room, and get the word out that a new yard is ready to take in liveries. If you run things professionally, provide good value for money, and choose your liveries carefully, you could even end up with a waiting list and very solid reputation!