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A Quality Horse Sitter

Updated on August 18, 2010

Looking for a Quality Horse Sitter

I know it seems scary to even think about vacation when you own horses and you don't have a reliable person to care for them while you are gone. How can you find someone that is going to love and care for them exactly as you do? I hope to ease the panic just a little bit. I don't personally own any horses but I'm an experienced rider with a lot of horse sitting experience. I felt I could share what people have asked me before letting me care for their horses while they were gone.

Asking a Horse Buddy... First off, asking someone you KNOW is experienced with horses is the best option to go with. You already know they are reliable and trustworthy. In some cases, you can offer to watch their horses next time they are gone in exchange for watching yours. This can save you lots of money and worry in the long run. Sometimes, someone you know already just isn't what do you do then?

Hiring a Sitter...
If you have to hire someone you don't know to watch your horses, there are some things you should keep in mind. First off, ask around to other horse owners you know to see who they use and how much their rate is. At least this way you have a positive reference of their work ethic already out of the way. Whether you end up with a reference through a friend or someone you don't know at all...make sure you do the following to ensure they are a good match.

  1. Discuss how much their rate is. If they are simply asking too high for your budget and you can't negotiate them down...move on to someone else. If they are flexible to fit your budget...step one accomplished!
  2. Ask for references. This is VERY important. If they have no sitting experience, at least make sure they have horse and riding experience. Ask for the name and number of the barn they ride at and confirm with the barn about their experiences. If they have sitting experience already, call each reference and ask how the sitting went. Take detailed notes! You want to know if anything went wrong and how it was handled. If they own their own horses, chances are they know what they are doing. I would still ask for additional references and follow up on them just to be sure.
  3. Bring each possible sitter to the barn and take notes of how they interact with your horses. Be sure to watch your horse's reaction as well...they know better than we do! Walk them through your routine without actually doing it. Then have them retrace your steps and actually feed, turn out, etc. This way you can see how comfortable they are following your routine. It's always a good idea to have them come over a couple times to do the routine before you leave. Also, leave a detailed checklist somewhere so they can check to make sure they didn't forget anything. Leave all the important phone numbers in case there is an emergency while you are gone (vet, family numbers in the area, your cell phone number, number of where you will be, etc). Will they be exercising your horses while you are gone? Make sure you watch them saddle, bridle, and ride. Make sure they meet your standards.
  4. Some owners like to have the sitter sign some sort of release stating that you, the owner, are not at fault for anything that happens while you are gone. Most cases, nothing will happen needing this but it's better to be safe than sorry.
  5. Lastly, ask certain questions to ease any additional worry. Will they be in your house and will they be respectful of your property? Will they stick to your routine? Do they have a car to get them to and from? What would they do if they couldn't make it one day? What would they do if there was an emergency (colic, injury, etc)? Will they do the job alone or bring someone with them? Anything else you can think of...just ask!

It's important you feel comfortable with who you hire. It's no fun to leave for vacation and constantly worry about things back home. Be confident that whoever you hire will feel free to call you if they need anything. Good luck!



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    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 7 years ago from Canada

      I love horses - we adored the time we spent on my grandparents ranch, and missed it so much when they finally sold. Very sensible and practical information.