I`ve said before that I wouldn`t want a livery yard of my own – too many politics and too lonely a job.

That doesn`t stop me looking at different yards and their policies, and working out what I would or wouldn`t do on my own yard.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a riding school at a little competition with Llani and took the opportunity to have a nose around.

Each stable had a white board outside with the horse`s name and hay ration. This makes perfect sense as the multitude of grooms could easily get muddled when doling out lunch.

This got me thinking about how I would run my yard. If I had part or full liveries I would definitely have a large white board with the horse`s name, forage, hard feed (whether they have one or two meals a day), routine (whether they come in during the day or at night), rugs, and any behavioural issues (such as can barge out of the stable). This board would need updating regularly, and be in a position that the horse cannot rub it off, but I think it would make the yard run more efficiently, and if you have a number of different staff then they will not get confused. Also, with the weather changing and days off, staff coming in after their weekend will know if the horse in stable three is wearing his mediumweight or his lightweight.

You could take this further, and put the horse`s field on the white board, so that staff can check to see if there are any paddock change. Also, some horses may be on limited turnout, for laminitis, so it is important that they come in at the correct time.

Another element I like to see at stables is the owner`s details. The yard manager should have contact details for everyone, but sometimes a livery may need to contact another livery. Also, having farrier and vet contact details to hand can be very useful in an emergency. Likewise, your partners contact details is useful if there is an accident or you are away.

Another element of livery yards which I think is vitally important, is having gates. Horses can be unpredictable, flighty, or just plain cheeky, so could get loose. They could barge out a stable,  untie themselves, run from a scary object, or their child handler let go of them. Having gates,which should be shut at all times, helps prevent runaways getting onto the road. The yard I grew up at had one main entrance, and the gate was kept closed at all times. Really useful as there were so many kids and ponies running around! The yard that I trained at was on the edge of town and a busy road, and the main barn and yard was gated – we were always getting in trouble for not shutting them properly. Age and experience means I now realise the importance of it. The two gates onto the road had to be closed securely at night, in case a horse from one of the on site paddocks broke free, or from a stable in the new part of the yard which wasn`t gated. I`ve worked at other yards with no gates, and it does concern me that a horse could get loose during the day and gallop off down the road with someone in hot pursuit. Even if a yard is gated at night I think it`s important not to underestimate the importance of keeping it shut during the day, for that once-in-a-blue-moon freak accident.


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