The LiveryList Blog- All In.. or Pay as You Go?

Posted on 29th April 2016

Having had over 1200 yards registered on LiveryList since it started in 2011, there is an increasing variant of livery categories on offer and I am constantly being asked to add new ones. The options as to facilities that are available to you, items and services which are covered in livery packages, and the variant as to how much this all costs you as a horse owner is changing rapidly as new yards open and established yards evolve. Whilst searching for livery and comparing like for like livery yards in the same area – where you would be better off?

Pricing structures and what is included in livery packages can vary hugely. Traditionally for DIY Livery you would simply pay for your stable and grazing and everything else was on top. Items such as bedding, farriery, feed, hay and wormer you would arrange yourself. On the other end of the scale would be Full Livery which would include complete day to day care of the horse, generally everything necessary on a  day to day basis to keep that horse warm, dry, fed and fit would be thrown in to one complete package. Nowadays there is Assisted DIY, 5 Day Livery, Organic Livery, 6* Livery, Hunting Livery and a whole host of options in between.

Many yards now offer tailored livery packages which can cover daily stable duties, feed, hay, bedding, clipping, farrier… even tacking up for you when you want to ride! Many of these are understandably expensive, you are basically paying for someone else to take sole care and responsibility day to day for your animal, and typically better facilities to go with it. Facilities on offer can also vary wildly- some DIY yards will not even provide a riding area, needing horse owners to rely on hacking out or hiring other facilities locally. But visit a top class Full Livery yard and they are likely to offer an astounding array of facilities starting from the quality of the stables, right up to the provision of several arenas, top quality show jumps, cross country courses, gallops, horse walkers, solariums, expansive tack rooms and more- all readily available for the use of their clients at no additional cost. It is important to realistically consider the facilities you require. If you are a ‘happy hacker’ it is unlikely you will require such facilities- it may be nice to have them at your disposal- but is it worth paying extra for? On the other hand if you compete regularly you are going to need suitable areas to exercise and practice for your events without needing to travel far and wide to hire external facilities.

But are you better off paying a larger amount to have everything included, or be on a lesser livery package and have it built up over the month with added extras as and when you need them.It is important to work out all of your day to day costs beforehand- knowing how much your horse eats, how much hay and bedding you get through and what other costs you are likely to incur. Think about everything you pay for… hiring facilities locally such as an arena- factor this in too, as well as your transport costs to the venue; having your horse schooled; paying a freelance groom to clip it or cover while you are away; maintenance costs for rented land; wormer; supplements; transport storage… the list is endless! Work this out over a month, add your standard livery bill and you will have a comparative figure to consider when looking at yards.

Another important factor that people overlook is the cost of petrol and their travelling time. It is only then that you can really work out with which options you would be better off. One yard I used to be at cost me £4 each return journey in petrol so visiting twice a day was costing me £240 a month on top of my livery bill.  It was easy to think that there was no harm in spending the odd £2 for the yard owner to turn my mare out in the morning as it was cheaper but when I looked at the whole picture it would have actually worked out cheaper for me to put my mare on full livery, closer to home at yards I’d previously overlooked because of the costs, not to mention the time of commuting to the yard.

Many people turn their noses up at more elaborate livery packages given the costs which may seem expensive at first look. The truth is, that by many of us trying to save money by finding cheaper yards (perhaps further away), or by renting facilities, buying our own bedding and hay, we might perhaps be costing ourselves more.

However, full livery just doesn’t work for us all. For the control freaks among us, nothing can put a value on having sole say in what happens to your horse, how, when and what it is fed and how it is handled. To some of us this is priceless and in our opinion we could find no one better than ourselves to look after out horses. Other people would happily never muck out again and gleefully turn up at a yard with a  pristine horse that’s been groomed within an inch of its life and is tacked up ready to mount and then given back to the groom when you’re done. From that perspective cost isn’t everything.

But take into consideration the points made above, take a while to work this out and mull it over- only then can you sensibly decide what is best for you. Seriously consider everything on offer- if you take the time to work out where you can afford you may be surprised!! The final decision, will of course, be where you think your horse will be happiest and where you feel the most trust is with the yard staff and services on offer and only you can make that decision irrelevant of cost.

  • Lingfield
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  • Lingfield

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