Farming News - National survey finds Livery Yard owners support yard licensing

National survey finds Livery Yard owners support yard licensing

A recent survey carried out by SEIB Insurance Brokers Ltd and LiveryList found that almost 60% of livery yard owners confirm that they would be supportive of the proposed licensing of livery yards and similar equestrian establishments. With consultation on livery yard licensing already well underway in Scotland, proposals for the rest of the UK may not be far behind.

In a currently unregulated industry, more than 60% of the 420 survey respondents, all current livery yard owners, feel that the introduction of licensing would encourage more responsible yard ownership. Whilst the exact process and criteria for licensing is yet to be revealed, there will undoubtedly be a strong emphasis on equine welfare, and the encouragement for a certain level of competence in the running of a professional establishment.

Chief Executive of World Horse Welfare, Roly Owers said: "We welcome the SEIB findings that many English livery yards support licensing, which we certainly support too. 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."

SEIB's Equestrian Services Manager Steph Ellis said: "SEIB is keen to support livery yards and promoting high standards within them. We instigated the SEIB Yard of the Year awards in 2019 which are now supported by British Equestrian and Horse and Hound. Livery yards offer such a key service to the equestrian industry and anything we can do to help ensure high standards and promote equine welfare is crucial."

A majority of yard owners understand the need for licensing, and the advantages that this can have for the industry. However, concerns regarding licensing among yard owners focus on additional costs and the increased paperwork that would be required for a licensing application.  There is a fear that with many livery yards already struggling to make a profit, additional costs and time spent meeting administrative demands may make their livery yard business unviable. Any such introduction would need to be both practical and reasonable for business owners.

Liverylist and Yard Owner Hub founder, Cheryl Johns said: "The survey also found yard owners feel the introduction of licensing will 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. 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 these days, almost 75% of the respondents believe 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 420 yard owners who responded 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.

Cheryl added: "The consultation on licensing in Scotland is a welcome and positive development that is long overdue. 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."

SEIB Insurance Brokers Ltd have over the years won several national industry awards including Broker of the Year, the National Insurance Awards and the British Claims Awards. The company celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.

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