need a sound knowledge of and experience with horses, and the ability
to get along with people. Formal qualifications are not
essential but they will certainly help reassure potential clients that
their horses will be safe in your care. But running a livery
yard needs more than equestrian knowledge. You require sound
business sense, the ability to budget and maintain accounts, and some
public relations and marketing experience.
you already have suitable facilities, the financial investment will
not be as heavy. But if you are not 'handy', repairs and
alterations can be very costly. If you have more than a few
boarders, you will need to employ, train and supervise staff - do you
have accommodation for them?
successful livery yard requires a good location, the correct
facilities and services for the market, and sound financial backing.
Too many people find themselves with a few spare stables and think
they can offset the cost of keeping their own horses by taking in a
few liveries, but give little thought to the additional costs and
very least, you need decent stabling, well fenced grazing areas, and
an all-weather manège. A secure tackroom, feed storage, toilet
facilities, and a parking area are also essential. Your premises
will attract business rates and you will almost certainly require
planning permission, unless the property has previously been used for
business purposes. See more on facilities.
- know your market
livery yard can find some customers almost anywhere - but will it
attract enough business at realistic rates? If you are setting
out to look for a property and location is not dictated by other
circumstances, your options are considerable. Ideally, you would
hope to be within 10 miles of a reasonable-sized population centre, in
an area where there are plenty of horse owners and a shortage of
competition. But most people will not have such a wide
help you decide whether a certain property will make a successful
livery yard, you must ask the following questions:
there enough horse owners in the area without their own facilities?
facilities or services can you offer - and who else in the area is
offering a similar service?
similar businesses in the area charging - and how busy are they?
Will you have to try and undercut their costs?
good hacking available close by - or do you have sufficient land to
offer off-road riding ?
Plan and Budgeting
any other business, you must carefully examine your fixed overheads
(rates, mortgage repayments, insurances, maintenance and depreciation)
and your variable running costs (labour, electricity and water, hay,
straw, concentrates etc.) and balance these against the income you
expect. You must allow for unexpected expenses (emergency
repairs, for example) and consider the effect of a livery client
departing suddenly owing you six weeks' back bills.
you don't know a cash flow forecast from a balance sheet, an evening
course in book-keeping for the small business would be a very
you accept payment for providing a service, you create a contract and
a legal liability for the breach of that contract. You will
require legal liability insurance for your business, and employer's
liability if you engage any staff.
is essential that you have a written contract with your clients,
detailing the services you offer and any conditions that apply - and
what your charges and payment terms are. See sample
yards do not require a licence unless they provide instruction - then
they come within the provisions of the Riding Establishments Act and
must be licensed by the local authority.