Posted on Wednesday, January 28, 2015 by Heather Dodd
Planning a holiday? Finding a reliable person to look after your horses when you go on holiday can be a challenge, but rest assured, they do exist, and you can travel safe in the knowledge that your animals will be cared for as well as you could yourself.
The key requirements for a horse sitter are:
Plenty of hands on experience is essential, so invite potential sitters to your yard and watch how they interact with your animals. A good horse sitter will be happy to demonstrate how they’d carry out simple tasks like leading, rugging up etc. Listen to your gut instinct, as it will give you a good idea of whether this person will be safe handling a horse, let alone dealing with it in an emergency! Look for someone who asks questions about your set up and management, but beware of the individual who begins by telling you how things ‘should be done’! Many sitters also have paper qualifications, which show that they have invested in their career and are able to carry out work to a certain standard. However, their key asset should be their list of references from happy customers. If possible, ask if you can chat to one or two of the referees – most will be happy to oblige.
You need to be certain that your horse sitter will turn up when they say they will, that they’ll carry out the tasks they’ve agreed to, and that if an emergency should occur, they’ll deal with it efficiently. Ask what emergencies if any the sitter has encountered, or give them some worst case scenarios and ask how they’d react. The best place to get feedback on reliability is from a referee. Check the sitter has up to date public liability insurance, and, ideally a CRB check if they have access to your house. Some sitters are also members of associations like the British Grooms Association, or go through an agency which may vet them for minimum standards.
Sounds obvious, but will the sitter actually have time in their schedule to fit in care of your horse? This is much simpler if they live nearby so opt for a local person if you can, and obviously they’ll need their own transport unless they are within walking distance.
Finding a horse sitter
This is where word of mouth is helpful, so ask your vet, instructor, farrier or other local horse establishments to put you in touch with anyone they might recommend. Ask on social media sites, but bear in mind that recommendations from people you don’t know personally should be investigated fully. Some sitters do advertise, as do agencies which may have individuals operating in different areas of the country.
Once you’ve found your perfect horse sitter, expect to pay them a realistic sum; they are after all, worth their weight in gold to you!
Top Tips for while you are away
As a minimum, your horse should be checked for welfare twice a day if turned out. If stabled for long periods, he should be looked in on more frequently, with a late evening check if possible.
Leave an envelope containing a written list of the following:
1. The daily care requirements each horse will need
2. Any quirks or behaviours your horse may exhibit that it would be helpful for a carer to know about
3. Useful numbers of vet, farrier, etc
4. Contact number for a family member or horsey friend in case of emergency
5. Keys to paddock/tackroom/feed room etc
Make sure you give your helper easy access to all the equipment they will need to care for your horse.
Have sufficient feed in stock, and if your horse has a complicated feeding regime, premix dry feeds and store in labelled poly bags to be mixed with water/soaked beet etc when required.
Ensure there is plenty of water on site, especially if you don’t have a running supply, plus other supplies like hay and bedding.
Charge up electric fence batteries and tell your helper where the supply can be switched off!
Label tack and rugs if you have more than one horse
It may be helpful to warn your vet that you are away in case your horse needs care in your absence.
Ensure you have third party insurance cover – if you belong to a riding club or the BHS this may be included in your membership; best to check though.
Always have a ‘Plan B’ in case your helper is ill or cannot get to the yard, or in the unlikely event that you are let down at the last minute.
Enjoy your hols!
Have you any tips to add to our article? Why not comment below with your advice.