Livery start up advice - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 05-17-2017, 02:53 PM Thread Starter
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Livery start up advice

Hi all

I am a arable farmer in Bucks currently considering diversifying into a livery business to run alongside the crops.

Following a recent separation I have seven empty 12 x 12 stables, 20 acres of pasture that's suitable and loads of hacking.

The question I have for you is what is important to you as livery customers? I have a sensible amount for investment but want to put it into the right areas!

I am not a grumpy old farmer so please be nice!! I am only 31!

Thanks
James
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post #2 of 14 Old 05-17-2017, 03:39 PM
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Have you applied for change of use from agricultural to equestrian for the land and buildings?
As your proposing to use it as a business venture, before you do anything you should contact your local council and discuss your plans with them.
Some links for you with good info and contacts for advice if you haven't already looked into the legalities of what you want to do
https://www.tozers.co.uk/agricultura...oes-it-matter/
https://www.clarkewillmott.com/agrib...-planning-law/
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post #3 of 14 Old 05-17-2017, 03:53 PM
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Are you speaking of a boarding stable (where owners of horses keep their horses for a monthly fee, and a variety of services), or a rental stable (where people come to rent horses for an hour or two of riding, often with a guide?).

The term 'livery stable' is uncommon in the US, perhaps it is a regional term where you live.

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post #4 of 14 Old 05-17-2017, 04:18 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avna View Post
Are you speaking of a boarding stable (where owners of horses keep their horses for a monthly fee, and a variety of services), or a rental stable (where people come to rent horses for an hour or two of riding, often with a guide?).

The term 'livery stable' is uncommon in the US, perhaps it is a regional term where you live.
Sorry I am British!

Livery stable means where owners keep their horses there.
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post #5 of 14 Old 05-17-2017, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Jamesstephens2014 View Post
Sorry I am British!

Livery stable means where owners keep their horses there.
Ah, Jaydee knew what you meant!

Short horse lover
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post #6 of 14 Old 05-17-2017, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jaydee View Post
Have you applied for change of use from agricultural to equestrian for the land and buildings?
As your proposing to use it as a business venture, before you do anything you should contact your local council and discuss your plans with them.
Some links for you with good info and contacts for advice if you haven't already looked into the legalities of what you want to do
https://www.tozers.co.uk/agricultura...oes-it-matter/
https://www.clarkewillmott.com/agrib...-planning-law/
Hi Jaydee. I have already spoken to the council and a consultant who I know is handling that. The council were actually quite positive. Thank you for your advice ;)
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post #7 of 14 Old 05-17-2017, 05:03 PM
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All I can say is, before you decide, do the math. Around here small boarding stables are a fairly marginal kind of business. Unless you are adding in lessons and horse training it can be hard to make a profit. A lot of labor, a lot of dealing with human beings and their personalities, a lot of overhead, and a lot of liability. If you want top dollar you will have to have individual grazes (so horses don't injure each other), and a groomed riding arena, for starters.

I am not trying to discourage you, but think carefully about it.

Short horse lover
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post #8 of 14 Old 05-17-2017, 05:08 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Avna View Post
All I can say is, before you decide, do the math. Around here small boarding stables are a fairly marginal kind of business. Unless you are adding in lessons and horse training it can be hard to make a profit. A lot of labor, a lot of dealing with human beings and their personalities, a lot of overhead, and a lot of liability. If you want top dollar you will have to have individual grazes (so horses don't injure each other), and a groomed riding arena, for starters.

I am not trying to discourage you, but think carefully about it.
Thank you. That's why I am asking around. I have funds in place for the arena and that forms part of the planning permission stuff mentioned above. Intention is to add more stables too. Friends of mine that do this sort of enterprise find it very profitable in our area.
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post #9 of 14 Old 05-17-2017, 07:38 PM
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Hi Jaydee. I have already spoken to the council and a consultant who I know is handling that. The council were actually quite positive. Thank you for your advice ;)
Most councils are accommodating, some areas can be more fussy about how you maintain the place than others, I know several farmers who've done what you're proposing, its quite a lucrative business venture if you're in a horse intensive part of the country.
I would also suggest at least one good sized arena with floodlights - so many horse owners work and rely on riding early mornings and evenings to keep horses exercised and that means you're riding in the dark a lot of the time. If you're aiming at competition riders then having a second arena/manège where jumps can be permanently in place is a good idea. An indoor is wonderful but not everyone can run to that expense
Provide secure parking for trailers and horse boxes.
Lockable individual storage facilities for tack, equipment and rugs - one of the biggest causes of conflict on livery yards is people borrowing other people's stuff!!
Sufficient space for each owner to store feed - as rodent proof as possibly can be. I would leave it up to individual owners to figure out how to make their feed bins lockable
Space to store straw or shavings or other bedding materials
Decide if you're going to manage the facility yourself or employ someone to do it even if its just part time. If you get the right sort of owners a part time employee can earn their money by you providing services like turning horses out, bringing them in, changing rugs, mucking out stables etc Places that leave it up to the owners to self manage a yard are really lucky if they can get it to work well.
Have a wet weather plan, I don't know what your grounds like there but I do know yards where they have to insist on 24/7 stabling in really wet weather or they end up with land that looks like an unsightly bog that takes half of the summer to grow decent grass again
Try to provide some form of quarantine facility for new horses if you can and have a policy in place that insists on things like worming and vaccinations
Not sure what you plan on doing with the acreage but if you can provide a paddock for horses and ponies that need restricted grazing rather than go out on the whole lot it helps owners
Think about fencing. Barbed wire and sheep netting is OK for livestock but with horses doesn't always end well
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post #10 of 14 Old 05-17-2017, 08:20 PM
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Hi James. Do you have any business background? What about marketing background? In the states many places have liability insurance (just because one has in writing on a contract "we're not responsible for any kind of accidents" does not ALWAYS hold up in court). There are several good books on these subjects online and even in the library. Do you have a back up person in case you're not able to be there (i.e. you're unexpectedly in the hospital, etc). We had a case where a horse died on the property and the owner couldn't afford to have it hauled off. What would you do in that case? Another case, an owner brought in a stallion. What rules are you going to have in place regarding stallions. What about mares and foals or a broodmare? What about other animals--the goat, the cat, the chicken, that keeps a particular horse calm. I applaud you for seeking suggestions. I have seen some some really good barns and some barns I wouldn't keep a dead rock in!! A background in bookkeeping is very helpful and very useful. Keeping good detailed records is a must. Enforcing certain rules is a must (i.e. no smoking in stables, all horses must have neg. coggins within one year or 6 months, and proof must be provided (get a copy of that), and having all persons sign a contract.
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