Tag Archives: Livery yard

OPEN DAY at Brackenhill Stud today

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Every year since Emma Brinkworth took over the livery business at Brackenhill Stud, she opens its doors with a bit more of a shebang to celebrate past achievements and future opportunities in what is possibly one of the most challenging, demanding, overwhelmingly stressful yet also incredibly rewarding job in the equestrian industry (as any livery yard owner or manager will sure know!).

Having been based on site for the last couple of years I became very fond of the place and even though I continue looking for a full on base for the Academy, Brackenhill Stud will always be very special to me.

We have some exciting new training opportunities planned in the coming year so do come and snoop around 🙂 Grab a chair and sit down for a chat or just take a walk, buy some tack from the table tack shop sale, win a MINI, win something in Tombola – you know the drill!

I will be around too if you would like to know more about training stays with me at Brackenhill so give me a txt or a ring if you can’t find me 🙂

Open Day at Brackenhill Stud

 

EQUESTRIAN START UP – a real story as it happens…INTRODUCTION

By Wiola Grabowska 

This blog series follows a story of two freelancers  – a livery manager/groom/rider and a riding instructor with a coaching programme who thought it might be a good idea to join forces and set up a company with a vision beyond what’s achievable by oneself. The trick is – neither of them is that good at business…What can possibly go wrong?  

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There is one problem with Red Lion Pub & Restaurant in Handcross, West Sussex. They don’t have 0% Kopparberg. I could probably get the alcoholic one but when you are about to spend a couple of hours with a business consultant and you have zero tolerance for alcohol, it isn’t advisable. Especially when following ins and outs of business details is difficult enough on a bottle of sparkling water.

I get still water for Kelly (apparently sparkling water is a no go for her). She’s the livery head honcho in this story. My name’s Wiola and I am the instructor in this story. In 2010 I set up a coaching programme which I named Aspire Equestrian Riding Academy. I freelanced happily for several years, loved every minute of it until I realised that if I wanted to do a bit more and reach some goals I had in mind, I needed a business partner to rent a yard with.

There followed a couple of years of many very bad decisions, debts and difficulties which does happen if you know very little about real life business. Return to solo freelancing felt good. For a while. Until it didn’t and my unfounded entrepreneurial drive, that I have god knows from where (my self employed parents most likely 😉 ) and which is supported by minimal knowledge of only what I don’t know, have returned.

In 2015 I contacted as many people as I knew, including various former colleagues at numerous riding schools and livery yards I worked at, to find the right set up to grow the Academy at. I gave a few options a go for a while until eventually focusing most efforts on one location in West London where Kelly suggested my young rider could loan her mare. I knew the horse as I taught on her previously and I knew Kelly from a busy London riding school we both worked at years before. Apparently, best chances of survival have those business ventures that are formed by former colleagues. That gives us one thing ticked off on a long list of theoretical successful business must-dos 😉

Our plan is to bring together our respective skills to create a fairly unique livery service, a small coaching centre focused on equestrian grassroots sports otherwise known as lower levels of Dressage, Show Jumping and Eventing as well as a few more services of which I will write more in due time.

We drove to West Sussex for this meeting because there’s one thing to just do something and another to do something very well. I’ve done my fair share of just giving it all a go. You don’t need to be an expert in running a horse business to know that profit margins in this industry are low, rates and bills are high and many livery yards close down because they can’t break even despite owners working their butts off 24/7. Most horse people are exactly that. Fantastic horse people. They are not business people.

So here we are.  The horse people in the trenches with an idea. We don’t know how this will end but we thought it might be interesting to share our journey. I’ll try to make sure the account of it is honest and transparent and I hope there won’t be too many embarrassing details!

If you run a successful yard already and would like to share some of your know-how with us, let us know. We would love to road trip to you or just chat online with you, maybe even blog about you. 

Until very soon!

Wiola

 

Rugless, Social and Happy: Pictures from Poland (especially for #horsehour)

For the first time in 10 years I am spending Christmas time with my family in Poland and wanted to share with you a few pictures which I took for #horsehour (a great Twitter initiative that if you like Twitter community and have something equestrian to share or promote then you might want to check it out and join in every Monday from 8pm to 9pm).

Couple of weeks ago we had a conversation about different horse management habits and rugging in particular. I promised to snap some rugless photos so here they are. Not many “grassroots” horses (the Pony and Riding Club types) get rugged up in Poland and at most livery yard they get plenty of all-year round turn out. They are certainly allowed to be horses more than being treated like house pets. Field safety is not always a priority however as you can see by the state of fencing below.

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They all stay out from morning until it gets dark. There is usually a stable chap who brings them all in if owners didn’t do so earlier to ride.
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They all stay out from morning until it gets dark

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Operation the de-mudding accomplished. Pony being gotten ready for training.
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The mud comes off quite easily perhaps because the temperatures are lower and it doesn’t get very sticky and soup like, here’s a grey horse after about 20 minutes of grooming. He’s got plenty of TB in him so really all types of horses stay out.

How does your field look like at this festive time? Sadly no snow in Poland! If you posted any photos on your blogs, link to it in the comments, I would love to have a look 🙂

Continue reading Rugless, Social and Happy: Pictures from Poland (especially for #horsehour)