Do make it clear to owners/keepers that you are legally obliged to act on any welfare concerns if they are not taking appropriate steps to address them. As a livery yard proprietor, a horse spends more time with you than with anyone else, and you can be the subject of a prosecution in relation to poor welfare even though the horse is not legally yours.
I have listed this point first as it can’t be underestimated. Yard owners and proprietors still owe a legal Duty of Care towards the horses kept on their premises, and have been prosecuted for what was perceived to be their failure in meeting this duty.
Do have a written contract with every customer from the start:-
This should set out precisely what is included in the fee charged, so that clients are clear as to who provides what, e.g. whether you will exercise the horse or if it’s their sole responsibility, or whether hard feed is included in the livery package.
A written agreement not only assists in the event of a dispute, but also provides important context if your care of a horse is called into question. At Ison Harrison, we can draft a bespoke agreement and can update it for you as and when necessary.
You can also have a handbook-style document (like the ones employers provide to their staff) which is readily available (in the feed store, for example) which makes the yard’s policies crystal clear. You may also wish to hand out a copy with every contract signed.
Don’t rely on verbal discussions or even text/social media messages to prove what has been agreed. Protect your position with a contract; a carefully drafted document can avoid many headaches.
Don’t forget that fundamentally, you are in a business relationship with your clients. Getting along with one another makes for the harmonious running of a yard, but take care to keep that key distinction in place. This means that if you have concerns or problems flare, it will be much easier for you to end the relationship and ask the client to leave the yard.
Do obtain a licence if you offer working livery. If clients agree that their horses can be used for lessons in exchange for a reduced livery fee, then it is a working livery arrangement and you will therefore require a riding establishment licence (our blog https://www.isonharrison.co.uk/blog/stable-businesses-licensing-for-riding-schools/ offers useful advice in this area.)
Remember that it’s your professional reputation and livelihood on the line. Having to reflect on what should/shouldn’t have been done at a later date can be a costly and frustrating experience. If you’re unsure, please do seek our advice. All cases are handled with the strictest confidence and we offer competitive fees.
Please do get in touch if we can help by speaking with Amber Walker on 0113 284 5042 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.