Horse owners and riders settle on a yard for a variety of reasons, whether it’s for a particular coach, the yard’s facilities and care, its location, or most importantly, its price. All too often, there comes a time when riders feel it’s time to move on for any number of reasons. Horses thrive on routine, so it’s not a simple task to uproot and move them, especially if they’re not the type to settle easily or if they’ve got very specific care requirements.
If you’re unhappy at your current yard, but you’re having trouble deciding if it’s a good enough reason to go, have a read through some of the telling signs that it’s time to move yards.
1. The care isn’t up to scratch
No matter how great your instructor is, or how much you’re enjoying the other people at the yard, your horse’s wellbeing and happiness should always be top priority. Many riders often leave a yard because the stable management or the general care proves to be negligent or inadequate on several occasions.
Common problems that clients find are:
- Stables not being mucked out properly.
- Paddocks or stables that are badly maintained and could cause potential damage or injury (sharp edges, broken bolts or gates, broken fences).
- Feeding concerns (supplements not being fed, incorrect portions).
- Insufficient grass in the paddocks.
- Insufficient grass for the night in the stable.
- Careless or undereducated grooms.
- Badly maintained and/or unorganised arenas.
- Insufficient grooming.
- General uncleanliness (dirty water or feed buckets, untidy tackroom).
Most livery clients will address any of these problems with management first before rushing to any rash decisions. What often happens is that the client’s request goes ignored and the same problem perpetuates, leaving the client feeling fed up and undervalued. Many riders and owners also face the common problem of asking for a horse to be turned out or tacked up a certain way, and these specifications are never carried out properly. Examples are putting a fly sheet on the horse before turning out, putting stable boots on for the night, or making sure the horse has overreach boots on before work.
As a paying client, you should not have to constantly nag for basic care and management to be up to scratch. After all, we put all our trust in the caretakers to take excellent care of our horses in our absence. There is nothing worse than continuously wondering if your horse is alright and taken care of properly.
2. Healthcare negligence
Healthcare negligence takes bad yard management to a whole new level. If something happens to your horse under the yard’s supervision that turns into a life-threatening incident, pack up your horse as soon as you can and go! This could be anything involving not detecting colic symptoms, not treating open or obvious wounds, not informing the owner of suspected sickness or lameness, not fixing health hazards (such as barbed wire), or negligence such as turning a horse out in full summer in a winter duvet.
All new livery clients will most definitely inform the yard manager or caretaker about any important health conditions the horse may have, and extra care must then be taken by the yard to ensure that the horse receives any necessary medication or treatment in the correct dosages and intervals. Negligence in this department is definitely grounds to leave a yard. Stable managers should also not make obvious mistakes, such as putting stallions together in a paddock or putting a sick, infectious horse out with the others.
Any negligence that threatens the wellbeing of your horse, and even others, is a good enough reason to up and move to another yard.
3. Shady management
Is there anything worse than feeling like you’ve been cheated? We’ve all faced the dreaded stabling bill, listing several services you didn’t even know about, and the final amount due is nothing close to what you imagined. The worst part is you probably had no prior knowledge of your horse being fed extra this or receiving extra that. Not only did you not know about it, but there’s often no way to prove that your horse actually received what was invoiced. You’re left scrambling to make up the cost, and you undoubtedly have a bitter taste in your mouth. If you’re one of those who likes to know exactly what to expect, a yard that likes their add-ons is most likely not for you, unless you can make it very clear to the owner or stable manager that you always want to be kept in the loop – no matter how small or great the cost.
The full article appears in the October issue (127) of HQ > Shop now