NEW VENTURE: Donna Dobson with her daughter Zara’s horse Mullins at her Mount Pleasant Livery
NEW VENTURE: Donna Dobson with her daughter Zara’s horse Mullins at her Mount Pleasant Livery

A YEAR on from swapping her bustling town retail business for a countryside livery operation, Donna Dobson has no regrets.
The businesswoman, who ran the Fox and Field countrywear shop, in Barnard Castle for 11 years, bought Mount Pleasant Livery in November last year, and like her previous venture, it offers a unique service.
Unlike other liveries that operate on a do-it-yourself basis, hers is an assisted livery where she gives personal attention to all of the horses.
She said: “I look after the horses for them (the owners), I turn everything out myself and bring them all in.
“You might have people going on holiday for two weeks and they can bring their horses here for that time. I don’t know of anyone else around here doing holiday livery.
“After I sold the shop I thought I would get a part time job, something nice, but I can’t sit still, I need to keep busy and this is perfect.
“I’ve been involved with horses since I was a little girl so it was a no-brainer to do this. I did try livery before when I was in the shop but it didn’t work. You need to do it full time.”
Each of the horses that is booked into the livery not only has its own stable, but also its own paddock and there is no mixed grazing to make it more safe, Mrs Dobson said.
The property came with a three-furlong gallop – possibly the only one in Teesdale – but it also has an eight-bay horse walker.
Mrs Dobson said: “When we had all the frost and snow we were able to get the horses in here [to exercise].”
The horse walker works simply by putting the horses into the bays and once turned on the bays rotate in a circle forcing the horses to walk with it. It also came in handy for her daughter Zara during the Covid-19 lockdown who used the elaborate piece of kit to keep up with her fitness regime.
The livery features its own exercise arena.
Mrs Dobson said: “It is covered with recycled carpet and underlay, which makes it super comfy for the horses. It is also all-weather, it was only twice during extreme weather that it was too frozen to use.”
The same material covers the gallop.
Mrs Dobson said: “It is really soft. No one else in Teesdale has one as far as I know.”
Perhaps most interesting about the livery is its self-sustainability.
All of the power used is generated from a wind-turbine and all water comes from rain harvesters attached to either side of the stable blocks.
As for the shop she once ran, Mrs Dobson said: “I miss my customers and a lot of people say they miss the shop, but it got a bit much for me.”