The majority of livery yard owners have said they would be supportive of the licensing of livery yards and similar equestrian establishments. In a recent survey carried out by SEIB Insurance Brokers Ltd and LiveryList, almost 60% of the 420 survey respondents said they would back such a scheme.

Consultation on livery yard licensing is underway in Scotland and proposals for the rest of the UK may follow. Whilst the exact process and criteria for licensing is yet to be revealed, there will be a strong emphasis on equine welfare, and the encouragement for a certain level of competence in the running of a professional establishment.

World Horse Welfare’s Chief Executive, Roly Owers, was pleased to hear the findings.

“We welcome the SEIB findings that many English livery yards support licensing, which we certainly support too,” he said. “For a licensing system to be proportionate and effective we first need to have a better understanding of this important element of the equestrian sector and to have a clear definition of what constitutes a ‘livery yard’. The views of yards and other equestrian establishments will be vital in taking this forward and we are encouraged that SEIB is playing such an active role here.”

Concerns regarding licensing among yard owners included additional costs and the increased paperwork that would be required for a licensing application. However, others said the introduction of licensing would help level the playing field for the industry.

“It will, help educate horse owners to find the most suitable establishments in terms of equine welfare and management, rather than base their livery choices on price,” said Liverylist and Yard Owner Hub founder, Cheryl Johns. “This in turn can help add value to the industry by horse owners knowing they are keeping their horses at a compliant livery yard.”

With such a wide variant of livery types available, almost 75% of the respondents believed that the licensing should be all encompassing for all types of long- and short-term equine accommodation regardless of the type of livery packages that are offered, and that the basis of licensing must come from an understanding of the industry and its needs, as well as providing stability and support to the yard owners.

Collectively, the respondents said they would like to see considerations for minimum welfare standards, minimum insurance requirements, and health and safety high on the agenda as criteria for licensing, as well as potential minimum qualifications of experience.

“The consultation on licensing in Scotland is a welcome and positive development that is long overdue,” Cheryl added. “Too many yard owners simply don’t meet what the industry would deem as basic ‘best practice’ in terms of equine care and customer service. Whilst I understand that this consultation may be a worrying development for some yard owners, I strongly believe that these proposed changes will raise standards, and hopefully the value, of the industry.”

Further details on the consultation currently underway in Scotland can be found here.

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