No, I haven’t taken the plunge and bought myself a livery yard, I’m just living in my dream world and wondering how I would run it.
Previously I’ve always thought that I would run either a DIY yard or a part livery yard, and not mix the two. I’m leaning towards a DIY yard because I think part liveries are quite difficult to manage.
The benefit of a DIY yard is that it is more self sufficient and would give me more chance to teach. I also think that DIY yards tend to have a more close knit community, with stronger friendships forming.
I think if I did run a DIY yard I would have quite a laissez-faire attitude. If people want to help each other catching or feeding in the field then I don’t have a problem with it, after all you get to know your friend’s horses like your own. It would also allow me to teach privately or for a Pony Club, or take in horses for schooling.
No one minds doing little five minute jobs during the summer, but when it gets to winter people don’t want to be mucking out their friends’ horses every day, and people don’t like to ask. Yet they don’t want to or can’t justify part livery fees all year around, especially if they want their horses to live out 24/7 during the summer months; costing the same amount but with fewer duties performed by the yard. I think that is one reason why it is hard to fill a part livery yard.
So my thoughts were that if I had a DIY yard I would offer various winter livery packages. It would be a way of ensuring an income, because lessons invariably drop off during the winter with poor weather, and would keep the liveries happy.
I think I would run the packages from the first of November until first of April and have three types.
- Weekday livery. This would suit commuters as their horse would be fed, turned out, mucked out and brought in. With rug changes or grooming as required.
- Morning livery. Horses would be mucked out and turned out during the weekday mornings, suiting those who work early.
- Afternoon livery. Horses would be caught, rugs changed and fed in the afternoon. Again this would suit people with children or afternoon shifts at work.
With an option of price and package owners can find which suits them best; after all we’re all individual, and the staff know the general routine so will become more efficient as well as having more settled horses.
I might possibly think of another type of livery, but I think signing owners up to a scheme allows the yard manager to budget time and staff, and ensures some definite work. One off jobs come up frequently anyway, especially if someone goes on holiday, but if you know there is a definite three hours of work in the mornings and two hours in the afternoon then you can plan the daily routine and if more staff are needed you can recruit them.