Cliques, bitching, personality-clashes, badly maintained facilities, unsuitable grazing arrangements, a fiercely competitive environment when you’re looking for a chilled out environment, or just a feeling that it’s not the best ‘fit’ - there are an infinite number of reasons why the livery yard you’re on is not the right one for you and your horse.
Our time with our horses is so precious, it’s time away from work and your other commitments, time to unwind and a time to connect with your horse - one of your best friends. It’s so important this time is spent somewhere where you feel at home, relaxed, supported, surrounded by others who don’t cause you any added worry and somewhere that has all the facilities you need for what you like to do with your horse, whatever that may be.
I come at this from two sides, as someone who was a livery on yards for years, and now as a livery yard owner who sees the consequences of when the fit isn’t quite right. I always feel for both a prospective client who’s come to the view the yard and is unhappy at the yard they’re at for whatever reason, but also for the owners of that yard if people attribute their unhappiness with the yard itself.
There are definitely sub-standard yards out there with poor facilities and bad management but I’d argue most of them are fine, they just didn’t suit what you were looking for. I know as a yard owner myself, we won’t be for everyone and that’s ok, it’s my job to attract the people we will be for.
Here are my top tips on finding a yard where you and your horse will feel at home….
1. DO YOUR RESEARCH
Before you go to visit a prospective yard, read their website and follow their social media pages to find out as much as you can about what they offer in terms of facilities and services. You’ll also get a good idea of what they’re like by the tone of their marketing material - I know I’m very careful to write my website copy and social media posts just as I would explain it to you in person.
2. ASK FOR RECOMMENDATIONS
If you’re thinking of moving yards, ask your friends what it’s like on their yard. Check out the yard you’re interested in - is there anyone there you know or knows someone you know that you can ask?
3. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT AND NEED
Is an indoor arena a must-have for you? If it is, there’s no point visiting yards without them, or do you like to hack out but the yard you’re considering has none available? Our needs and preferences can change over time, and that’s absolutely fine, but if you consider only those yards that tick all the boxes for you, you’ve got a better chance of finding a yard that is going to suit you.
4. VISIT, TAKE A TOUR & ASK QUESTIONS
It amazes me how many people want to move yards without ever visiting the new one. People coming to visit is as much about us getting to know them as it is them having a chance to look around and ask questions so it’s a vital part of the process for us. Make sure you see all around the yard and property - ask what facilities are available for use and quiz the yard manager about your particular needs to ensure they’ll be able to meet them. Also find out about what the culture is like on the yard - you’ll get a vibe just from visiting but are the majority of liveries competitive? Are they leisure riders? Do people ride out together and help each other out or is it more of a sort-yourself-out yard? All of these things will help you decide whether to not the yard is for you.
I hope that helps. I think my take-away piece of advice would be to ask lots of questions, even if they seem silly - you’re better knowing everything upfront than finding yourself on a yard that isn’t going to suit you.
KAEquestrian on YouTube