Renting out stables & fields(10 Posts)
Hi all, we recently bought a property near Downpatrick, County Down, NI. We have 2 fields circa 3 acres total & 3 stables. We are interested in renting them out (DIY) but are completely new to this & do not have much knowledge of horses. I've been reading & trying to figure out our responsibilities. I'm a bit lost on who is responsible for the fencing, care/maintenance of the stables, troughs etc. Also, does the tenant have to ensure that the field is left in good condition after the contract expires? Is it common practice for the landlord & tenant to draw up a contract defining each party's responsibilities? If so, can anyone point me in the direction of a website that I can peruse?
Sorry if I'm being vague......I could use a simple guide!
Thanks for any advice!
Generally DIY means someone does all the care for their horses and you do the maintenance of everything else.
As TX001 said, you'll be responsible for ensuring that all fencing is maintained to a safe standard, as well the stables & water troughs.
A word of advice, you might want to refrain from using the terms "landlord" and "tenant" and swap for "yard owner" and "livery."
A starting point might be to visit the BHS website which has a basic yard rules and contract as a starting point, though I'm not sure if you have to be a member to access these.
Where I am you would be expected to make sure fencing was in order (repair/replace damaged sections and loose fence posts), that water was available (fresh clean water from a stream or from a tap - the horsey people are responsible for filling water buckets for the field and stables themselves, unless you have self filling troughs attached to the mains which you will maintain).
If they are using your stables that they were in good repair (wind, watertight, locks work), that if electricity is supplied (it doesn’t have to be in cheaper diy facilities, reflected in livery charges) that broken switches won’t cause shocks etc.
Practically, also you have to consider space for their cars to park, they may ask to park a trailer. There is also hay, hard feed (grains, comes in 20kg bags like dog food) and bedding (straw or wood shavings) which needs to be stored. A horse can eat a bale of hay in 24hrs. Depending on horse size/local availability of fodder/what storage they have at home they may be happy to buy a few bales a week and bring them up in a car. Or they may ask to store a tonne at a time to save money/hassle, if you have a barn. Or a spare stable.
If you have a tack room (room for storing saddles etc) it should be secure so their insurance is valid in the event of theft of their saddles. Otherwise they’ll keep those at home.
3 acres isn’t that much for three big horses. Three ponies would be ok. But the field will get poached (dug up by hooves walking/running on it in the wet) and this can turn it into a sea of mud. Some yards therefore put down a hard surface like stones or tarmac at the gates as these are the most travelled over areas. Some make the horses remain stabled over the winter or use another more crappy field for daily turn out.
The horsey people are not usually held responsible for anything they damage. So stable doors being booted in, fields a quagmire, doors and fence posts chewed to death, rylock fencing cut to get a stuck hoof freed, etc will end up your problem.
Lots to think about! If it was me I’d try and get one family with a couple of ponies and let them use this spare stable for their feed and bedding. Saves on fighting between liveries (not just the horses) and loads of cars parked all over the shop!
You won’t be expected to do anything else. Unless you choose to offer services for a price. Good luck.
Lots of good info, thanks! In my ignorance I thought that the horse owner would be responsible for the fence chewing, stable door repairs etc. Is that something that could be agreed with the horse owner for a lesser fee or is that unheard of in horsey circles?
We have automatic water feeders
No I don’t think there’s anything you can do anything to financially protect your stable doors from being chewed. I’ve never signed any kind of contract in 20years though, but perhaps nowadays it’s more common! My horses and ponies never damaged anything. All you could do is wrap metal designed for this purpose round the top of the stable door where the horses head hangs over it as that’s the main choice of place to chew. You’ve probably seen stable doors like this, perhaps yours already have it.
The only thing I would do is ask a potential livery “does your pony have any vices”. Horsey people know what that means. If they say “ wind sucking” or “crib biting” that would be a red flag for me. These vices are caused by boredom but once established behaviour it’s almost impossible to stop them. Both involve holding onto the stable door or other woodwork like fence posts with teeth and bits will get bitten off. Sometimes massive chunks. I’d refused to have a livery with that vice.
Others common ones are biting, kicking, jumping out of fields, mounting mares (even when gelded) but these are more problems pony owners need to sort.
Defo easier to get one family with two ponies as you won’t have any hassle from one owner about another owners pony if it causes them hassle with kicking or mounting behaviour as above. If they own both they know both so it will be fine. Or two pals who know their ponies get on together.
Livery stable owners can get all sorts if mumps and moans about things. The fewer pony owners you have the better, less hassle.
One family would be perfect for you. In theory not too much hassle.
Automatic water troughs in the field need maintenance now and again to keep them free from gunk and leaves. They should clean them themselves. Sometimes under the maintenance door the arm the ball thing hangs on needs some oil etc (it’s the same idea as a toilet cistern) and you should do that when reqd. In the winter it will freeze and they will need water from tap which hasn’t frozen. This also applies to in-stable automatic waterers too. But I don’t know what maintenance they need as I’ve not had one.
The tap could be from outside the stables if you have one (which can also be used for hosing mud off legs in the winter etc) (insulate it to prevent freezing, but don’t have insulation on internal waterer pipes in stables unless wood goes round it to protect it as they could chew it off) or your garden or even your kitchen if there isn’t an unfrozen external tap.
So in a bad winter they may need to chap your door for use of a tap. The ponies must have water. They may bring themselves in containers though if they can get the car containing said heavy water containers up the frozen road.
I’d expect the pony owner to put one to two buckets in a stable morning and evening per pony if they are in 24hrs during winter. Or one each in the field if they are turned out to graze during the day and in at night. So that’s how long they will be at your tap or outside hose if unfrozen filling buckets in snowy weather!
You shouldn’t need to go into the field or be down at the stables, it’s theirs once they pay livery to you. They will let you know if any issues arise with the place. When you do want to do maintenance or check all’s ok let them know in advance so you do don’t get kicked in the field if the ponies are feisty. They may suggest a time when they will take the ponies out or tell you to go ahead whenever, they are fine, but once they pay for their stables and field it’s like a rental property, you wouldn’t go in there once rented!
If you can get a long handled pair of wire cutters I’d keep them handy. You never know when you may need to cut a horse’s out of of a wire fence. That’s the only thing I ever needed the livery stable owner to help me with. Everything else I dealt with myself or with the vet or farrier.
I still think it’s worth doing btw!
You need to make sure that there is somewhere for muck, both from the stables (so with bedding too) and from poo picking. This needs to be away from the stables as it can get smelly and attract flies, but near enough for convenience. It must not be near a water course either. It also needs to be accessible so that it can be removed every now and then (you may have to pay a local farmer for this.
Good point @britnay
You can remove roughly one wheelbarrow of soiled bedding and poos from a stable per pony per day. Slightly more for a horse.
It all needs dumped somewhere. The pile will rise and you will want rid of it, so it’s good to stay friends with local farmers. They take it and spread it on the fields once it’s decomposed. That can take a year. Then it’s good for the land.
Your liveries will have their own wheelbarrow and tools but you could supply s few planks of wood for them to lay over the pile so they can push the barrow to the end of it on top of the plank (so much easier) to deposit more.
If your stable doors aren't protected with metal, you can get a product called Cribbox to prevent them biting wooden stable doors. You paint it on with a clean paintbrush.
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