Posted on 25th October 2022
We recently caught up with Elaine Cawkwell from ABRS+ Certified Livery Yard – Whitehill Stables to find out more about them and hear some of their money saving tips.
Please tell us a little bit about your centre and the services you offer.
We are a happy bunch of horse owners on our spacious DIY livery yard. We are in the heart of a large semi- rural equestrian and farming community, which dates back to olden times. The horse community here is still just as big today with hundreds of horses in such a small area. I have been part of this horse community since stabling my own pony here in the late 1980s.
Our yard is on the edge of an area known as Marton Moss. The ‘Moss’ is home to many of the famous Blackpool landau horses that take many tourists up and down Blackpool promenade. It is also the home of the famous Blackpool beach donkeys.
Our yard is tucked away down a long private driveway giving you the feel of being totally secluded in the countryside, yet we’re near to every amenity, including the motorway network.
We’re a quiet bunch of horse lovers, all of us having horses for the sheer love of them, pleasure and companionship.
We are lucky that all our liveries have been with us for years. We know one another’s little yard life routines and all help one another if it is ever needed. It’s just so relaxed here.
We love recycling and our environment too. Our yard has its own Instagram nature & wildlife page. This is due to our yard being surrounded by various species of trees and hedging which brings us much wildlife including Pheasants, Jays, Woodpeckers, Squirrels, Coal tits, Blue-tits, Wagtails, Collared doves, Owls, Wrens, Oyster catchers, Kestrels and so much more.
What do your clients love about your yard?
Of course, I asked our liveries this question and what they mentioned in their own yard group was lovely and makes me feel so proud.
They have said:
* They put horses first
* The people
* Attention to detail
* Troublemakers aren’t tolerated
* All your feeds put in
* Yard and horse checks throughout the day/evening
* Livery cover when needed in emergencies
* The ongoing maintenance
* That ponies that destroy things are forgiven (cough ,cough)
* There is no interference, but help is available when required
* I could go on!
What has been your biggest challenge in the last twelve months?
Having a non-horsey husband who wants to put the prices up due to the increasing costs in our business and personal life. I know across the nation, yard owners are encouraged to put their prices up alongside inflation and many other economic issues we are forever seeing in the news lately. However, having three horses of our own, we know how costly horses are becoming for horse owners.
In general, we all know, many horse owners would rather starve or go without, than let their horses feel the financial pinch. For this reason, we have never put our stabling prices up. I know I will probably get shouted at by fellow yard owner / managers that may read this, but I am a giver by nature, so we have cut costs in other ways to help with this matter and keep our prices low. For example; we have changed all our lighting to LED. We have put light fittings on separate switches for various areas on the stable yard. Not only does this help with keeping costs down, but it also helps with environmental issues by using less energy and resources. We have also reduced the number of horses we livery here by a whopping third! So of course this saves in electricity running time, water usage, the removal of muck and so on.
What piece of advice would you give someone looking for a new livery yard?
My first bit of advice would be to be honest about what you want from a livery yard and ask many questions. When potential clients walk around a livery yard, they can see what you offer. Clients need to ask themselves; is it really going to be suitable for both mine and my horse’s needs?
Potential clients need to compromise and be realistic in their requirements. Most yards won’t have ‘everything’ on a livery’s wish list for a price they are willing to pay.
My other bit of advice is to not rush in finding a place. Look around. Speak to liveries and be realistic.
Why do you think it is important for you to be a member of the ABRS+?
I like being part of the ABRS+ because it is an association that is friendly and approachable in all things equine and business.
They pledge to highlight your equestrian businesses and raise awareness in many related issues like the costs of running your business, safety, licences, the joys of horses and riding and much more. News in equestrian current affairs is always up to date and sent to you (optional). They hold online meetings for members and invite you via email. They also want many more yards and centres to join them to follow a code of conduct and professionalism in their certified and approved membership. This is to try and standardise good equine practise and ensure livery yards and centres are fit for purpose which will help potential liveries find their ideal place. It’s not as hard as you think to become a member!