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Livery yards have been around for centuries, but every year the types of services on offer are revolutionised and a huge range of different livery packages can now be found, providing housing and care for equines of all types. This has stemmed from equine professionals - DIY yards, professional riders, studs, etc - needing to diversify to maintain healthy revenue flow against rising costs as well as meet the demands of a new generation of horse owners.
Here we look at the most common types of livery offered, what they include and to help understand how these different offerings can work for horse owners.

What is DIY Livery?

DIY or “Do-It-Yourself” livery would be deemed as the most basic livery type. DIY livery is the renting of either a stable & grazing or 24/7 turnout, with the owner holding all responsibility for day-to-day horse care. This is one of the cheapest livery types available and can be anything from a minimalistic package of stabling and grazing to a large livery yard with extensive facilities, such as a manège or horse walker. More often than not, care services are unavailable and the horse owner would be responsible for arranging the management of their equine in their absence. 
This is the most cost-effective, yet labour-intensive, livery package available. It is popular with owners who want to keep costs down and enjoy doing all of the general horse care elements themselves.

What is Assisted DIY Livery / Assisted Livery?

Assisted livery is most often DIY livery with help when needed. Normally, this can be requested ad hoc as and when necessary, and such services are usually provided by the yard or by a third party who provides the services on the yard’s behalf.
Services may include regular cover, such as turning out in the mornings, bringing in for the evenings, or even holiday cover for full care over longer periods when the owners may be absent. This can be a cost-effective way of having assistance, when necessary, on a pay-as-you-go basis.

What is Part Livery?

Part livery is ideal for horse owners who wish to undertake the care of their horses for part of the week but would like regular help during the week when they work. Usually, part livery includes a stable and grazing, and for 5 days a week, a level of assistance with the day-to-day care of the equine, such as mucking out, turning out / bringing in, and provision of hay, feed and water.
It is unusual for part livery to include any forage, bedding or feed within the package prices, and the level of services and inclusions is often limited to basic care in the absence of the owner. 

What is Full Livery?

Full livery is the most comprehensive type of livery package that is available. This includes all aspects of caring for the equine seven days a week. This means that often the only job for the horse owner is to turn up and ride the horse!
The inclusions on full livery may differ. Many yards include forage, feed and bedding, to an extent, within their packages. Generally, you will also find that there will be more inclusions as the yard is responsible for the day-to-day horse care. This may include things like grooming, clipping, routine equine care or other items that mean the horse owner does not need to worry about the management of the horse on a day-to-day basis.
Most full livery yards often have extensive facilities. Some yards may even offer an option for Full Ridden Livery, whereby the horse is exercised regularly within the livery package.

What are Competition, Training, and Schooling Livery?

Usually on a full livery basis, as detailed above, these livery types are generally based at a yard where the yard owner or their staff are highly experienced in schooling, training and competing equines. Ordinarily, these services are provided by professional riders who can cover a couple of different disciplines. Alternatively, some yards offer specific schooling packages for horses with behavioural issues or for the backing and producing of young horses.
Rather than simply exercising the horse, these types of packages will often have specific training plans, and for competition livery, can include transport to and from competitions, entry fees, and being ridden by a professional for those classes.

What is Rehabilitation Livery?

This type of livery is relevant to horses and ponies who may be recovering from illness or injury, seeking specific treatment to alleviate pain and discomfort, or even to help investigate veterinary issues. These are often on a full livery basis at yards equipped with suitable facilities, which may include treadmills, hydrotherapy pools, cryogenic treatment pods, etc, and access to the relevant professionals.
Often these types of yards have veterinary nurses or equine therapists based on site. The aim is to offer specialist treatments and care relative to the horse's condition, usually on a short-term basis.

What is Working Livery?

Working livery is usually found at riding schools, equestrian centres or educational establishments that offer horses for hire or to their students. Often on a full livery basis, the horse or pony is used within the centre for their riding clients, usually for a set number of days or hours per week, with the owner able to access the horse for personal use outside of these periods. 
The fact that the equine is used in the centre often provides a reduced rate for livery and is often based at yards with extensive facilities. This can be an ideal solution for owners who would like their horses to receive more exercise than they can provide or need a cheaper solution to allow them to own a horse whilst not being able to provide general care daily. However, this type of livery is commonly restricted to older, more sensible horses, such as established schoolmasters.

What is Paddock Paradise, Track, and Natural Livery?

This type of livery offers natural living and horse-centric options. This often involves horses living out 24/7, typically on grass-free tracks, providing a natural herd life of foraging and movement. This can be particularly suitable for young stock, older horses or those who may suffer from ailments, like laminitis.
There can be various approaches to this type of livery depending on the set-up and ethos of the yard. This may include holistic approaches to care and training, barefoot living, and different facilities such as communal barns and feeding stations. Whilst Equicentral and Paddock Paradise relate to specific principles for equine care, there are various systems which are offered based upon differing systems, and these can vary considerably from yard to yard. 

What is Sales Livery?

Sales livery is where you are interested in your horse being produced and sold on to a third party. This is often on a full livery basis with the yard being responsible for the marketing, viewing and negotiations of the sale. Normally, sales livery is for a fixed period and tends to include a commission payment to the yard once a successful sale is made in addition to the livery fees.

What is Stud Livery?

This type of livery usually relates to stud farms or livery yards that are equipped and capable of offering livery and care to stallions, youngstock, foals, and broodmares. They may offer stud services, such as natural coverings or AI if they have a stallion on-site, and foaling down for pregnant mares. The yard and staff are usually highly experienced in breeding and handling these types of horses. 

Other Livery Types

Over recent years, the wording and descriptions for livery packages has changed to assist with marketing livery yards to the right client. New types of livery packages have developed, such as:
  • Tailored livery - a completely bespoke package suited to the owner and can offer a wide scope of inclusions and care as required. 
  • Luxury Livery - a full livery service at a high-quality yard with outstanding facilities and care
  • Non-ridden livery - a tailored service to horses who do not require exercise such as those who may be retired or convalescing
  • Pony livery - livery dedicated to smaller equines and child clients, often found at riding schools and equestrian centres where the education of the young rider is part of the package
  • Holiday livery - the phrase “holiday livery” can have two meanings. One is where an owner who may keep their horse at home goes away and needs their equine cared for; therefore, send the horse to a livery yard whilst absent (a bit like kennels but for horses). The other is where you can stay somewhere for a holiday with your horse (with or without human accommodation).
The above is a basic overview of livery packages. The services, provisions and facilities offered by livery yards can vary hugely despite livery packages seeming similar, as can the wording to describe these packages. Estimated prices for such packages have not been included because there are so many variables to factor in, which means the differences in cost for the same livery package can vary considerably depending on location, facilities or inclusions.
Therefore, any horse owner seeking livery services needs to consider the whole picture of any potential yard, not base any decision purely on price or what the yard appears to offer within its facilities or services. This is essential if you want to make sure you move your horse to the best place for both of you.
Regardless of the type of livery offered, all yards should provide a high standard of care and welfare, provide well-maintained facilities and grazing, have suitable client administration, such as livery contracts, and be suitably insured for the services they provide. 
It is important to fully understand all the inclusions, the provisions by the yard owner, and the expectations of the horse owner when choosing a new yard. On the Yard Owner Hub, we have a dedicated section to help horse owners find a new yard and understand the questions to ask. 

Cheryl Johns - Livery List
Horsemart Brand Ambassador
Published on 23-05-2024
Cheryl Johns is the founder of LiveryList and the Yard Owner Hub. Launched in 2011, LiveryList is the top-ranked Livery Yard Directory in the UK and is home to the Yard Owner Hub, an industry-leading resource for yard owners that was launched in 2020. Cheryl also works as an industry consultant for several equestrian organisations and charities to help them better understand the livery industry. The Yard Owner Hub provides extensive free guidance, templates and resources on all aspects of yard management to support yard owners to run professional, viable businesses and help both yard owners and horse owners understand expected industry best practices when choosing or running a yard.