Many of us are not lucky enough to have our own land so many of us use livery. Finding a yard that caters for your equine’s needs and is a non-judgemental environment towards the choice of not riding can be tricky. For example many non ridden equines are sometimes only catered for as retired. And the expectation is that the horse will just be put out to pasture.
Fellow liveries and yard owners can struggle to understand why we choose to keep a horse we don’t ride. The tradition of the relationship with the horse for riding goes back thousands of years so it is understandable for people to be confused about why we choose to have a horse we don't ride. Maybe this is an educational issue?
Most non ridden equine owners seek to be welcomed and integrated into the livery yard. Some of us do have a different approach to our horses, as do some folk who ride. For example it can be hard enough to practice a non mainstream riding approach to horsemanship on a mainstream yard, let alone take the next step and choose not to ride. Some of us arrived to non ridden ownership as we have faced some heart breaking choices and given up our riding dreams for our horse. Then there are people who have bought an equine with no intention to ride.
Most livery yards are set up with riding being the focus. Even a very traditional livery yard where most horses are ridden, the benefits of opening up to the world of the non ridden activities would have many benefits for riding horses and their owners too. Many of these activities wouldn’t be expensive for livery yards to provide. Some would require a shift in cultural thinking.
The one thing we all need to thrive together as liveries, owners who ride and those who don’t ride are clear yard boundaries, ethos and rules to ensure a non-judgemental atmosphere for everyone. This requires clear leadership from the yard owner and walking the walk in management of the yard. It is a passion to be open to the fact we all have horses in our lives for very different and personal reasons. It doesn’t make one reason or approach to engaging with equines right and another wrong.
A great livery would see the opportunity to be a centre of celebration of the width of ethical equestrianism. Providing for the non ridden equine is a business opportunity as currently not many livery yards are tapping into this sector.
Here are a few suggestions for livery yards to consider offering that would benefit ridden and non ridden equines and their owners.
- A space to set up agility course, this could be in a small paddock. Liveries could provide their own agility equipment. Or the yard may go one step further and install a permanent built agility course. (Agility courses are not that expensive to create).
- A safe area to play at liberty. Again a small paddock is suitable or if the yard has the facility a separate surfaced area. Some yards have round pens.
- Set aside track / countryside to go in-hand walks or to ride round.
- Booking of the arena for non ridden work to be as acceptable as for ridden.
- Jump equipment that is used for ridden to be used in imaginative ways for the non ridden equine clients.
- Provision of Le Trec obstacles.
- Enrichment activities.
- Dry undercover hanging out area / quiet area.
- All types of livery DIY, assisted livery and full livery. With the choice of environments from traditional stable and grazing, track systems, equi-central systems or natural livery.
- Livery that provides great welfare standards and signs up to the five freedoms and goes beyond them.
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