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Owning, loaning and sharing

Once you've established the basics of riding during your lessons at a riding centre, you might start to think about having a horse of your own. If you're thinking of buying or loaning a horse, however, there are a number of questions to ask yourself to ensure that you're choosing the most suitable equine partner and are able to look after them sufficiently. 

Where will you be based?

There are many ways in which you can keep a horse, but most people keep theirs on livery either at a dedicated livery yard or riding centre. These places often offer various different livery packages, which may include...

  • grass livery, which consists of a single-use or shared paddock for grazing and no additional services
  • DIY livery with a stable, where you take on all of your horse's care and management requirements
  • assisted DIY, where the yard will offer ad-hoc services, such as bringing your horse in from the field or changing his rug, for a small fee
  • working livery, where your the horse is used part of the time by the riding centre for lessons with clients
  • part-livery, where the yard staff are employed to care for your horse for certain days of the week, such as weekdays, and you take responsibility on the other days
  • full livery, where yard staff are employed to care for your horse everyday  

Livery yards can have a variety of different facilities ranging from a basic offering of paddocks for grass livery right the way up to facilities such as solariums, horse walkers, outdoor arenas, cross country courses and so on. Some livery yards are also based at competition centres so you don't even need to travel your horse to compete. Depending on your location, budget and the environment you are looking for there are thousands of livery yards to choose from.  If you're looking for a livery yard, we recommend one that's been approved by the British Horse Society – you can search for one using their search facility.

What do you want to do?

The type of horse you buy or loan will depend on your abilities and the activities you're looking to take part in. Your coach should be able to support you on your search, and provide advice on what would be right horse for you and what to look out for.

When purchasing a horse, it's always recommend that you arrange to have a pre-purchase vetting carried out by your chosen veterinary practice. A basic or insurance vetting is comprised of two stages (in the stable and in-hand), whereas a five-stage vetting looks at all aspects of the horse including under saddle. 

What do you know about horse care?

If this will be the first time you have been responsible for a horse, you might want to consider developing your knowledge of horse care. The British Horse Society, Association of British Riding Schools and The Pony Club offer a range of different training opportunities and qualifications in horse ownership, care and management. These are:


As with any animal, if you are responsible for a horse or pony then the Animal Welfare Act applies.

Equine passports

All horses in the UK require an equine passport and a microchip. An equine passport is a small booklet, usually around the size of an A5 piece of paper, that identifies each horse by its height and breed. All passports issued since 1 July 2009 must contain a microchip number.

Have you considered a contract?

If you're loaning or sharing a horse, having a contract in place is a useful way to ensure that all parties involved know what's required of them and that the horse receives correct care and management. The British Horse Society have drawn up some sample agreements that can be used when loaning or sharing a horse or pony. 

If you need advice regarding a breach of contract, whether this is a contract of sale or a loan agreement, this is classed as a civil matter and professional legal advice needs to be sought.