Vacation Care for Your Horse

Even on vacation, we never fully leave all our responsibilities at home.  When it comes to providing care for your horses in your absence, there are a few things you can do to keep your mind at ease.

Preparation is key

First, post the number of your veterinarian, farrier, Stockdale’s, and a trusted fellow horseman so the caregiver can quickly get answers to any questions that may arise. Make sure you contact all these people to let them know the name of your caregiver and how long you will be gone.

Measure the amount of feed you would normally use over the same time period. Increase that by about 10 percent and only stock that amount.  If you leave an abundance of feed, you may come home to find that your extra feed was also given to the horse. All owners know that horses have a sensitive stomach and major disruption in feed quantities can cause serious problems.

Keep it simple

It can easily overwhelm someone with instructions like “add this to this” “this horse likes this” or “sometimes I do this.” Unless it is totally necessary, don’t use supplements if you are only going to be gone a week or so.  It may not be done correctly and your horse will not, for the most part, suffer from the absence of such things during a short period of time. During the summertime, many horses need added electrolytes. For simplicity’s sake, you may want to add to all of the horses’ feed instead of certain ones.

Make it easy on your caregiver

Take some extra steps such as labeling buckets with the horse’s name and amount to be fed.  Write down everything, and perhaps even provide a daily check-off sheet.  If you can, premeasure each feeding like meal preps for your ponies. Label each bucket to what day, meal, and horse so all the caregiver has to do it pour the premeasured amount.

Even if your caregiver is experienced and doesn’t think it is necessary, do it anyway. He or she may appreciate a reference should a doubt occur.  Make sure you stress the importance of clean, fresh water—a simple but essential item.

Double check everything

Finally, do a walk-through to make sure you’ve covered all your bases. You should do this yourself while feeding. Follow your list and make corrections and additions. Your caregiver should also go through the routine with you at least once allowing them the opportunity to ask questions.

Provide your cell phone number for emergencies, enjoy your vacation, and try not to worry!