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Livery Yards - a Snapshot into Diversifying

Horse Riding has become one of the most popular hobbies in the UK. This has lead to an increase in demand for Livery Services and this article aims to provide a snapshot of some of the important things to consider when thinking about setting up a livery yard.

Typically, horses kept at livery tend to be for the purposes of leisure and therefore will be called “the recreational horse”, that is a horse not kept and used for an agricultural activity but for the enjoyment of the owner or keeper. The importance of this classification is for planning reasons. 

Farms will usually have land classified as agricultural, however planning permission for change of use could be needed in order to prevent a breach of planning regulations if you are setting up and wanting to keep recreational horses. A recreational horse which is kept on agricultural land could result in the land needing to be changed from agricultural to a mixed-use classification of agricultural and recreational or even purely recreational. 

There is often a misconception that horses are livestock. A case named Hemens v Whitsbury Farm and Stud Ltd (1988), provided some much-needed clarity on this by confirming that horses or ponies other than those used for farming the land or reared for food are not livestock, furthermore any building used to house them does not fall within the definition of agricultural use. It is likely that you will need to obtain planning permission even if you are not physically changing anything.

No matter what type of livery arrangement you decide to offer, it is crucial to draw up a livery agreement before any horse owner takes occupancy at your yard. Typical heads of terms for a livery agreement are:

  • Parties - details of the horse owner and the yard owner
  • Charges - costs of the livery and any additional services
  • Insurance – liability of the horse should remain with the owner and the yard owner should exclude liability for injury to the horse and loss of tack/equipment
  • Tack and horse owner’s belongings – who is responsible for these if not covered by insurance
  • Horse passport – this should either be kept at the yard or an up to date copy should be provided to the yard owner
  • Specific horse information and care – any important details which the yard owner needs to know about the horse, does the horse have any vices?
  • Policies – For example the yard’s policy on dogs or children
  • Duties owed by the livery yard owner – services which must be provided to the horse
  • Duties owed by the horse owner – yard rules must be obeyed, livery fees paid, and horse’s welfare must be a good standard
  • Welfare decisions – Does the yard owner have the right to make the decision to put the horse to sleep on veterinary advice if the owner cannot be contacted
  • Lien – a very important clause for yard owners, reserving the right to retain the horse, its tack and equipment until payment of any outstanding livery fees is received. 

We understand that there are lots of things to think about in setting up a livery yard, but Adriana Vaux, Legal Advisor at Agri Advisor is available to discuss with you your specific needs from start to finish, whether it’s putting together a livery agreement, wider equine law matters or help with an ongoing concern. 

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