Many horse owners do not have the luxury of stabling their horses at home and instead keep their equine friend at livery. But all too often yard politics and personalities can ruin an otherwise perfect set up and owners without some tale of woe are sadly in the minority.
So, what are the most common bugbears? A "straw poll" of liveries revealed the following gripes.
Top of the list is "borrowing" kit without asking the owner's permission first then returning it filthy, damaged or sometimes not at all. "Borrowing" feed, supplements and forage is actually called stealing!
A close second place went to the yard know-it-all. This person is usually the least knowledgeable but always has the most to say and is particularly fond of pointing out other owners' shortcomings in the care of their horses. The yard smarty-pants has an annoying habit of sharing his/her knowledge when they have a captive audience, e.g. when someone's in their stable mucking out or trying to enjoy some uninterrupted bonding time grooming their horse.
Most people like a yard to be reasonably clean and tidy. Annoyance number three is folk who leave their rubbish/horse's muck all over the yard and never clean up after themselves. Clearly, such people believe that there is a yard cleaning fairy who will come along after dark and tidy up after them!
Next on the list are people who think that arena rules do not apply to them. Leaving piles of droppings in the arena and not bothering to clear them up is especially irritating as innocent parties usually get the blame! And it's especially annoying when someone sets up a course of show jumps and doesn't put them away. This always seems to happen when you have a dressage lesson booked and have to waste half of it clearing jumps out of the way before you can start.
Many owners look for adult only yards. Little children (or even worse, teenagers!) can ruin your relaxing evenings after work with your horse. Kids tend to fall out and argue all the time and the continual bitching can get very wearing indeed if all you want is a bit of peace and quiet in which to enjoy time with your horse.
When you go to look around a potential new yard, there are some give-away signs that all may not be peace and harmony. Are you greeted with a smile by other liveries, the yard owner and staff or do they seem miserable and sulky? Are there notices everywhere? If there's a noticeboard in the brew room, are the notes on it polite or stroppy? Are all the liveries possessions clearly segregated or just checked in all together? Does everyone have their tack/feed/grooming kit kept locked away? Ask what the turnaround is like. Do people leave regularly? Are there lots of empty stables?
The best way to deal with issues is to approach the person causing the problem and discuss it reasonably and calmly with them. Don't be tempted to gossip and complain to all and sundry first. Try to see the other person's point of view, not just yours. If you can't come to an agreement or the problem just continues, speak to the yard owner and ask if they can intervene.
If all else fails you may find that you actually have to move yards. This is obviously a hassle but it will be worth the effort for you and your horse to be happy.