Hiring a Horse Sitter

Truly, it is an understatement to call hiring a horse sitter difficult. You know how hard horses are to take care of because you do it every day. How can you possibly trust someone else to be able to handle all of the what-ifs that go along with the care of your animals?

Here are some guidelines to help you find someone good so you can enjoy wherever it is you are traveling to.

* Where to Look

Start by asking your local vet, farrier, trainer or horse supply store for recommendations. Also consider contacting a local vet school for students, a little medical training is always a plus.

If those don’t work for you, try online

Many horse directories will have listings for horse sitters, here are a few to get you started:

* What to Look For

A personal recommendation from someone you know and trust would be first and foremost. Again, that can’t always happen so start by searching the professionals.

Someone with an established business has a higher likelihood of being stable and trustworthy. Even better if they are insured which eliminates paperwork headaches on your end. Important to remember that the horse sitting services may cost more initially, but when you consider all of the small issues involved, in the long run they may be a better value.

* What to Ask

This is common sense and specific to your needs in many ways. Do you have an entire farm to manage, or do you just need someone to feed your horse treats at 3pm every afternoon?

Important to remember:

Check References – Speaking to former clients is one of the best ways to evaluate your perspective sitter.
The Bonding Myth – Bonding is designed to protect employers from employee theft – it is not set up to help the client (i.e. you on your vacation).
Insurance is more important – CYA, if the sitter or any of your animals are injured. Only hire a sitter with insurance certification.
Amount of horse experience – Having experience with large and unpredictable animals lowers the risks involved and provides your animals a higher standard of care.
Experience with injury – Can mean the difference between a sore foot and a large vet bill.

* What to Require

Before you start signing paperwork and writing checks, it’s a good idea to do a trial run with your potential candidate. This allows you to go through the motions of your routines and explain the process, it also gives you a chance to watch your candidate interact with your animals.

Trust your animal’s judgement of the people you interview.

Once you’ve made the decision there are three things you need

1. Someone near who you can trust to be around should your sitter need some local help (or can’t get a hold of you right away).
2. A contract that details liability responsibility should anything happen while your animals are in the care of another.
3. All of your sitter’s contact details.

* How to Prepare

Make things as simple and obvious as possible for someone walking into your routine. This saves them time, confusion and frustration and lets you map out your routine in it’s simplest form.

Key Essentials

Label stalls – with the animal’s name and important information.
Post emergency contact numbers – Yours, the vet, the farrier, your local contact.
Label all foods & important meds – Give specific details.
Insurance – Understand your policy regarding property and your animals.
Notify key people – Let your vet & farrier (and of course your local contact) know the dates you will be gone and make sure your animals can be treated for emergency in your absence.

* What to Provide

This list has the potential to become very long, be reasonable and organized.

Be sure to:

Pay well – You get what you pay for.
Put together a notebook – Keep everything together, make it easy to use and include the following:

  • Daily task list and feeding schedule.
  • A page for each animal with description, illnesses, allergies, quirks or special instructions.
  • A list of people allowed access to your property, animals & equipment and who can do what.
  • Any vital information about the property itself.
  • Another list of emergency contacts (pays to be over cautious with this info).
  • Some specific contact instructions, and a general idea of what warrants a call to you and what your local contact can handle.

More Reading

If you need more in-depth help, check out Finding A Good Horse Sitter Can Be Difficult from Equine Ink and Hiring A Horse Sitter for Your Horse from My Horse.

Be sure to test your potential candidate on their horse anatomy and basic horse terminology too.

7 Comments on “Hiring a Horse Sitter

  1. Derek and Indio

    Greats ideas, I had to look into the same area when going to assist my mother. I found it helpful to bring on my godson (horsesitter extrordanaire)a week before I was planning to leave. That way he could get accustomed to my routine, and the horses could get accustomed to him, while I was still there.

  2. Sally's Pet Sitting

    Great advise! I am a professional horse care provider. I tell my clients the more information they can provide on their horses the better. I was hired by my current client because her mare approached me and stayed with us while we were discussing her needs. The owner was amazed since her mare stays away from strangers. She’s been my client for over 2 years now. Listen to your animals!! They know!!

  3. Head to Tail Pet Sitting

    As a horse lover and a person who has had horses in the past I can assure you that if I pet sat your horse it would be well taken care of. Although I do mainly pet sit dogs and cats I have had my fair share of horse clients. I am not just out for profit. I truly love horses the most. I am more afraid of dogs than horses. Plus usually pet sitting other animals is a set amount of time, with horses I charge per visit and you would have to drag me away.

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