A livery yard is a British name for stables where the owners normally pay a weekly or monthly fee to keep their horses there. This may be referred to as boarding in the USA. A livery or boarding yard is not usually a riding school and the horses are not normally for hire (unless on working livery - see below).
There are several types of livery:
- Full livery - The staff undertake all care of the horse and often exercise and/or compete the horse on behalf of the owner. This is normally the most expensive option.
- Part livery - The horse is normally fed, watered, hayed and mucked out on behalf of the owner.
- DIY livery - A field and a stable are normally provided. The owner undertakes all care of the horse and provides all hay, feed and bedding. This is usually the least expensive option.
- Working livery. Working liveries are particularly common at riding schools and it involves the owner paying a discounted livery fee so that the riding school has the right to use the horse in lessons.
A horse or pony requires a check at least once a day. It must have access to clean fresh water at all times, and grass or hay too. If a horse cannot be visited by its owner every day, there is the option of keeping it at a livery yard, where the staff will care for the horse for a fee.
The minimum requirements are that the horse/pony has plenty available to eat and drink at all times unless it has special dietary requirements, has regular farriery/dental/veterinary care and its hooves are picked out with a hoof pick daily to prevent thrush or lameness. It should also have some form of regular exercise whether it is being ridden, lunged or turned out in a spacious field. If a horse is ill or injured it may need to be confined to a stable on so-called box-rest (US: stall-rest).
The horse or pony will need a field and possibly a stable. For those who do not own their own land, fields can be rented from a private land owner or a paddock and stable may be rented from a livery yard. As horses are herd animals it is advisable for the horse to have equine company. However, this is not always possible and it has been known for special bonds to be developed between horses and other species. There are sometimes exceptions as some horses prefer to live on their own as they do not get on with other animals.
Levels of provision and service at a livery stable or livery yard vary greatly, as do the fees. The service is broadly broken down into the following bands:
- Full Livery - where the horses are managed by the stable yard staff and ridden for exercise or even trained and broken. The services possible in this band are endless.
- Part Livery - where some of the management is provided, but some is not. It often means that only perfunctory services like mucking out are provided, but exercising the horse is not.
- DIY Livery - this is 'Do It Yourself Livery', where only the facilities are provided to a certain level. There would not normally be any staff to do any work for you. It is common for running water to be provided, and sometimes an amount of hay and/or straw for bedding is included. Everything else needs to be done by the horse owner who will visit the yard two or more times a day to manage their horse.
Facilities at a livery yard normally include a loose box or stable and access for the horse to grass grazing.