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Leaving Your Horses in the Care of Others

Updated on January 7, 2018

As a horse owner, leaving your animals in the care of another person, whether you board them at a stable, or have a pet sitter come to your house, may be necessary at times. It is important to leave clear instructions for the caretaker in case of a veterinary emergency; it may mean the difference of life or death for your animal.

When a veterinarian treats a very sick or injured horse, and it is not possible to contact the owner, someone has to assume responsibility for making decisions about that horse. Horse owners often fail or forget to make arrangements for their horse in the event of a medical or surgical emergency.

Problems could occur is the caretaker is not sure whether to call a veterinarian or administer a treatment without direct veterinary advice. If the horse needs surgery, who will be giving permission for surgery and accept responsibility for the cost of surgery. As a veterinarian, it is difficult to guess what an owner, who you may have never met before, would do for their horse. The monetary value of the horse is only one part of the picture. The following list should be completed when a horse owner leaves on vacation or drops a horse off at a stable.

1. Who is the horse’s primary veterinarian? If he/she is not available, may the caretaker call another veterinarian?

2. With the veterinarian’s best judgment in determining if your horse can be saved with reasonable medical probability and financial practicality, what is the maximum amount of money for which you will accept full financial responsibility?

3. Is the horse insured? List name of company, phone number, policy number, and type of insurance.

4. If the attending veterinarian concludes that the horse would benefit from emergency referral to a hospital, do you give permission? Are you prepared with a credit card number or signed check for a down payment to this hospital?

5. How will your horse get to the hospital? Leave the name and telephone number of a hauler and a backup.

6. If the veterinarians determine that your horse cannot be saved due to the severity of the condition or financial constraints, do you authorize them to euthanize the horse for humane reasons?

Remember to leave phone numbers in the event of an emergency with the caretaker so that every effort can be made to contact you when decisions must be made. Completing these steps should allow you to relax and enjoy a break, and leave your caretaker with the information they need.

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