Cutting Costs, Not Care in Light of Industry Survey Findings

21 November 2022

Across all industries prices are increasing, and the equestrian industry is no different. Soaring costs for yard owners are resulting in huge difficulties for them and their clients in terms of the sustainability of running their yard or keeping their equines.

A recent investigation from SEIB Insurance Brokers confirmed this with a pair of nationwide surveys finding out how these increasing costs are affecting yard owners and their clients. The surveys confirmed that yard owners are struggling to cover surging costs and overheads for their yards, while horse owners are also finding it difficult with increasing livery prices and subsidiary costs to keep the equines such as veterinary care, hay and bedding.

The number of welfare cases has also surged in line with the owners being unable to cope financially in keeping their equines, putting further pressure on already overwhelmed welfare resources.

With no end in sight to the increasing costs, for already cash strapped yard owners and clients it is important to remember that the primary focus must remain on the provision of high-quality care for the equines. If yards wish to continue to offer their current standard of care, staffing and provisions then they will have no option but to raise their prices. If horse owners wish to continue keeping their equines at a yard that can care for them in the way that they desire, then there is no option that they will have to simply increase the amount they are prepared to pay for their livery and to try to better understand the reasoning of these price increases.

In some aspects of horse ownership, cutting costs in certain areas can be a false economy. So, what are the important aspects to ensure you are providing your horses with the same levels of care?

  • You must ensure your equine has adequate access to suitable grazing and shelter to meet their basic needs,
  • You must ensure you maintain regular routine care for your equine such as farriery, worming, veterinary and dental care,
  • It is recommended that you insure your equines in case there are any accidents or injuries which will cost you more in the long run if you cancel your insurance,
  • You must continue to provide good quality hay, bedding and feed,
  • You must ensure that any facilities are well maintained and any repairs or damage are dealt with in sufficient time,
  • You must ensure that anyone caring for the equines has adequate experience, knowledge and insurance

The latter points are also applicable to yard owners whereby again it is a false economy to reduce the quality of provisions. Instead, you are far better to raise your prices in line with your costs to ensure that you are providing a consistent service to your livery clients and the equines in your care. LiveryList offers multiple resources to help livery yard owners understand their costs, understand best practice and to better manage their livery yards practically and administratively which can also help cut costs and improve viability in the long term.

Yard owners are finding the implementation of price increases difficult with almost 40% of horse owners responding to the SEIB survey stating their yard had increased their prices in recent months, with the understanding that many of their clients simply cannot afford to pay more. However, the livery yards are a business, and they simply cannot be unsustainable or supplement the cost of the clients’ horses.

If your yard chooses to increase their prices and you feel there is no option but to change yards, opting for a cheaper yard that does not offer the same levels of care and welfare or opting for cheaper alternatives in other aspects of their care could simply cost you more down the line if these decisions lead to unforeseen problems with their health or behaviour, or increases their risks of accident or injury.

In the SEIB survey, a sizeable percentage of the yard owners responding stated that their clients often are not aware of the knock-on effect of waste, over use of provisions or leaving lights on, contributing to their increasing costs. In the same way it has been recommended to cut your costs at home such as using less water, reducing your heating, considering your electricity consumption and suchlike it is the same with keeping equines and considering where you can practically cut costs without compromising care. It is exactly the same for horse owners when they’re on the livery yards to be considerate to actions that can help the yard owners reduce their costs in the same way.

When a horse owner is seeking a cheaper yard, it is important to understand why they may be cheaper and to ensure that you have all of the information necessary to make an informed decision if that yard move is ultimately the right thing for you and your horse. Is it that they simply have not yet increased their prices, is it that they offer a lower standard of care or are they just lucky enough to be able to offer livery below market value. It is important as a horse owner to make sure that you ask questions about the levels of experience, care, and welfare when you are considering any new yard such as whether they hold insurance for the business, if they have livery contracts or biosecurity protocols and what the experience or qualifications are of themselves or their staff. Many horse owners are not aware that absolutely no experience or knowledge of horses is required to open a livery yard and therefore horse owners should be more diligent now than ever before when considering reducing the costs by changing livery yard.

The most important in all cases are the equines themselves. In the SEIB survey it was clear that many owners are putting their horses first when faced with scarcity of money. Both yard owners and horse owners should have peace of mind that the horses are receiving the best possible care and are settled and happy on their yard, and if that means having to spend a little extra each month to ensure this, then that can only be a good investment in the long run.

If you own a livery yard, keep it safe with valued protection from SEIB. As experts in equestrian insurance, they are happy to provide information on the policy and cover you may need to ensure your business is suitably covered. Call them now to get a livery yard insurance quote on 01708 850 000 or email to find out more.


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