What makes a good horse sitter?
With other types of pets it’s usually easy to find a sitter. But anyone who is owned by a horse (or several) knows it’s a challenge to find a horse sitter who has the right character and credentials to take care of your horse. You must really love horses and have a lifetime’s experience to be able to do all the tasks involved in their care such as turnout, feeding, grooming, exercising, mucking out, poo picking, rug-changing, exercising etc.
If looking for a horse sitter is new for you, you may want to consider the following things when meeting with potential candidates.
As we all know horses are powerful yet delicate animals. They need an experienced equine specialist to take care of them. Ensure specifically that your horse sitter has the right experience with a solid equine background with a range of horses from competition horses, hunters or racehorses to family ponies. Not all horse sitters will have experience with the entire range of equestrian work that these types of horses bring, so take time to match the horse sitter with your needs.
Would the horse sitter be able to spot the early signs of laminitis or colic? Will they know when to call the vet? Would they be able to poultice, bandage and administer medication? A highly experienced horse sitter will have decades of experience and will be able to read the body language of your horse to provide a fantastic standard of care.
Will the horse sitter have to travel to your horse? Could this impact how much time they can spend carrying out their duties? Are they be able to stay later if there is an emergency and a vet has to be called? You may consider recruiting a horse sitter who will stay in your home. Animal Aunts offer live in horse sitters who can provide additional security to your home and take care of any other animals present. Our equine Animal Aunts are very highly experienced with horses; all have worked with, owned or competed on horses of all shapes, sizes and temperaments all of their lives.
As every owner knows, horses are expensive and sometimes unpredictable. Should something happen when your horse is in the care of the horse sitter you will want to ensure that your horse sitter carries insurance.
Can you trust anyone with your horse? It is always a worry leaving your beloved pony, horse, yard etc, but every horse sitter of merit will have an up-to-date CRB check and plenty of references.
Back up cover
If your horse sitter should suddenly become incapacitated, who will step in to look after your horse(s)? No matter how we prepare for eventualities sometimes something unexpected can arise, something we have learned during Covid-19. If your experienced horse sitter should suddenly become unavailable, you cannot expect your 86-year-old Auntie Betty to pop in to take care of them like she does for your cat. Consider booking with an animal sitting firm such as Animal Aunts who would have back up horse sitters armed with comprehensive care instructions passed on from the original sitter.
Ask people you trust for recommendations, your farrier, your vet, local horse community groups on FB or Nextdoor. The internet can be full of charlatans who are looking to make a quick buck.
When you think you have found a suitable sitter arrange to meet them face to face. Watch them interact with the horse. Follow your instincts, it they don’t feel like the right fit for your horse, they probably are not.
Once you have found the perfect horse sitter you need to give them as much information as possible to allow them to meet the needs of your horse whilst you are away. Things to consider:
- Full daily routine
- Emergency contact details i.e., yourself and your vet
- Feeding instructions and sample size of feeds
- Medication routine
- Personality or quirks of horse(s)
- Any behavioural issues
- Yard routine
- Care requirements of any other animals’ present