I teach at numerous yards, and right from the beginning of my self employed career I decided that my clients needed to be responsible for ensuring that we had somewhere to ride as I didn’t want to have to liaise with half a dozen yard managers.
It’s been interesting to observe different yard rules, and how they try to ensure liveries are kept happy.
One yard has a white board where liveries write their name in the time slots to book the arena out. This means that others can check if they can ride in the arena or not. I have heard of people rubbing others off the board at other yards, but I think this reflects badly on the people, not the system.
Another yard has the rule “no lessons between 4 and 7 on weekdays”. Now this leads to antisocial teaching hours for instructors, but when I thought about it, many people now work weekends and shift work, so they can organise lessons during the day in the week. It is a sensible rule for a yard of adults with limited arena space as it means everyone can exercise their horses after work.
Other yards just seem to muddle along, with the person having the lesson sharing the arena, yet having priority. This is usually pretty straightforward for an instructor to adapt their lesson content, but it does require sensible riders who are aware of the rules of the school. Flat lessons are more easily adapted to a shared arena.
Then of course is the case of paying for hiring the arena. For some yards livery bills are broken down into “stable/grass livery” and “arena use” which means that retired or happy hackers save £50 a month. Others include arena use in the standard fee. Then some yards charge extra to hire the arena for a lesson, whilst others feel that you’ve already paid to use the arena in your monthly bill.
I still haven’t worked out the best approach to booking out arenas but I do know that ….
A) everyone wants to know if there has been a booking so they don’t plan to ride at 2pm only to find the arena is full.
B) if there is an extra charge for hiring out the arena then people want to feel that they have the space to themselves and all the facilities, such as jumps, are available for use.
C) liveries who don’t have lessons still want to opportunity to ride at peak times and not feel like second class citizens.
I think if I had my own yard I would ensure I had a large enough arena, or two, that if someone is having a lesson there is space for others to ride too. Then I would look into limiting or ignoring lessons at peak times; it would depend on my audience as to the exact times, and of course my facilities, but I think this is really helpful in keeping liveries happy. After all, they ride for pleasure and to take away the blues so making riding difficult means liveries become grumpy and stressed.
I think dividing a livery bill up into components is really useful too as you can ensure that it is fair, and people can choose the exact package they want, with no grey areas. Then of course I wouldn’t charge extra to book the arena if they are already paying to use the arena.
I’d really like to know other yard policies and how liveries feel they work, or don’t work if that’s they case!