This is especially true if someone in the family or business is already interested in horses. Equine businesses can be lucrative particularly if grazing and stables can be relatively easily provided.

Some facts:
the UK equine sector is of interest to 27m people, including 1.8m regular riders, representing a £4.7bn market in the UK.

22% of ex-riders cannot get back to riding due loss of access to a horse

 (BETA 2019 National Equestrian Survey)

The market
There are 5m households in Gt. Britain with at least 1 ex-rider and if 22% of ex-riders cannot get access to a horse this represents a superb opportunity for diversification and business development.

Income opportunity

Overall gross margins should be 70-80% which can provide a healthy gross contribution to your existing farm business.

riding on a farm track

Supplementary income can also  be gained from supply of hay, haylage and bedding, plus income from riding lessons and training if you have the internal skills or the staff available to you. Further income opportunities are possible especially if you offer camping/glamping or B&B for riding holidays, trekking (if you are in an attractive area), cross country riding and so on.

There are various livery services that can be offered from DIY to full livery and the customers will vary alongside the service. Some customers can be demanding and require out of hours access but the more services you offer, the higher price you can charge of hundreds of pounds per month for each stable.

Is set-up costly?

Cost of set up can vary depending on what is already available and what the farm has the capability to do internally. Stables can be created from unused outbuildings, grazing is required at roughly 1 acre per horse, paddock fencing, and gates are required and of course somewhere to ride. Its desirable to have at least a 40mx20m riding arena which can be a substantial cost for materials but will last a long time if done proficiently. If you have bridleways accessible from your land this will be an added attraction and keep income levels higher.

Normal running costs such as water, power, heat (for any office/staff facilities), phones etc will have to be factored into any plans. Marketing costs will vary depending on your proximity to towns, cities and any local competition. Insurance can be purchased from any number of equine specialists to cover employees and public liability.

You will have to consider planning permission for any riding arena, lighting, stables etc and you will need to investigate any appropriate change of business use.

Local grants may be available and as we exit the EU this year, we can expect changes to existing grant structures and benefits schemes.

Tax will have to be carefully investigated such as VAT, employee taxes and corporation or personal tax. Equine specialists exist, or your present accountancy advice might be adequate.


Comprehensive employee and livery contracts will always ensure best working practice . Welfare for staff and horses will require a good understanding and any tuition services will require registration as a riding school.

Couple of further considerations

In some areas competition can be high but see our articles on customer experience and competitive advantage for more advice on how to overcome these obstacles.

Highways agencies can be a tricky hurdle so do check with them initially or use appropriate advisors.

Equine Business Consultancy can provide advice and guidance on all matters relating to setting up or developing a livery yard or riding centre on your farm. Please see for more information.

Our intention is to publish a series of blogs and articles outlining these and other key strategies for equine farm business innovation & diversification. Why would I do this? Because over the last seven years, my wife Jo and I have built up what we think is a very successful enterprise that we are proud of.  We made our own mistakes and learnt a lot on the way.

But when we started there was no help anywhere, from anyone in the riding centre market. A few marketing people but no real insider business knowledge specifically for riding establishments. Well now there is. Stay tuned or visit our website at Business Consultancy Ltd
1 Buryhill Farm, Braydon, Wiltshire, SN5 0AD – 01666 860068 – johnmc