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Hiring A Horse-Sitter

You may not want your sitter to actually sit, but you do want her to observe your horses carefully to pick up on any subtle sign of a problem.

You'd really like to go away for a weekend like "normal" people do, but who will take care of your perfect horses? If we lived in a perfect world, your perfect clone would do it. But since the world isn't perfect, you have to hire a horse-sitter.

Hiring a horse-sitter is not an easy process. You want to find the best person to watch your horse while you're away, but where do you start? Your horse-sitter should be familiar with horses, and know their way around the horse barn.

Before You Go

Detail the tasks you normally do and the time it takes you to do them.
Write down important information-don't depend on verbal instructions.
Ask a sitter for references, and pay your sitter for a trial run.
Prepare your barn, and label stalls and equipment, so things run smoothly.
Ask a friend to stop by or be on call, just in case the sitter needs help.

Defining the Details
The best place to start is with your routine. For two or three days, write out your schedule, including miscellaneous tasks. What do you do, in what order, and how long does it take you? You don't have to time each task, but notice that you headed out to the barn at 4:30 in the afternoon, and at 6:15 you closed the barn doors.

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Next, note the little quirks about your farm and your animals. Think about the light switches that are hard to find, or the sprinklers that work on a timer. You'll want to alert your sitter that part of the driveway floods if you get a big rain, and that four deer live in the stand of trees by the big pasture. Don't forget that the neighbor's Rottweiler visits each afternoon and gets territorial about who enters the barn.

List the people who are likely to come onto the property, and what they are authorized to do. Who is allowed to ride, and can they take a horse off the property? Is anyone allowed to borrow a vehicle or trailer?

Write down the names and phone numbers of neighbors, helpful friends, the vet and farrier, along with a comment that the sitter might find important in case of emergency. Note that Martha doesn't get home until 7 most evenings, or that Bill will trailer a horse to the vet, if need be.

Next, write the information particular to each horse. It's probably easiest to give each horse his own sheet of paper. That way you can keep adding notes as you think about them. Begin with each horse's markings, so there's no getting confused about which bay horse you're referring to.

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