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Finding A Good Horse Sitter?

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  • Finding A Good Horse Sitter?

    I keep my horses at home, but would like to be able to leave every ONCE in a while...

    I have six horses, all kept on pasture. Would be a super easy job, no stalls to clean, horses fed communally, etc. Basically, I would make 'baggies' of meals, and the person would just have to throw hay and dump baggies in buckets, then put buckets out, twice a day. Horses are not on a firm schedule, so feeding is pretty flexible.

    So how do I find someone I can trust, with some knowledge of horses in case something does go wrong? Also, what can I expect to pay? Again, no stalls to clean, no mixing/making buckets, no separating horses. Just throw hay, dump buckets and set them out, check water on two troughs. Pretty simple.

    I'm in the Terrell/Rockwall, Texas area. If that makes any difference!

    Thanks a bunch,
    Rural Property Specialist
    Keller Williams Realtors

    Email Me for Horse Property!

  • #2
    In terms of finding someone...word of mouth is the best option. You'll hear all the good and bad.

    In terms of paying...easy job or not, DO be prepared to actually make it worth someone's time. I see lots of ads that say something like "work takes just 20 minutes...$5." $5 is not even worth me starting up my car, unless it's a neighbor that I like. You're paying for not just their time, but their gas, and most of all their EXPERIENCE and ability to recognize if something is wrong.


    • #3
      Ask your vet if they know anyone. If there is a boarding/training place near you, you can ask the owner if its OK to approach an employee about the job - our neighbor is a race breeder and he offered to us that he didn't mind if we wanted to use one of his guys (we are very similar with most or all being out)
      Epona Farm
      Irish Draughts and Irish Draught Sport horses

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      • Original Poster

        Oh, I agree. I'm not trying to 'lowball' anyone, just honestly asking what the going rate is for something like this?

        Rural Property Specialist
        Keller Williams Realtors

        Email Me for Horse Property!


        • Original Poster

          Horsetales - Great idea about asking one of my boarding barn's employees (with owners permission, of course). I board one horse about 15 minutes from my house, to use their indoor ring and whatnot. Good idea.
          Rural Property Specialist
          Keller Williams Realtors

          Email Me for Horse Property!


          • #6
            Originally posted by IrishWillow View Post
            Oh, I agree. I'm not trying to 'lowball' anyone, just honestly asking what the going rate is for something like this?

            I don't personally do it, but I know friends who have pet sitting businesses on the side and generally charge $30-50 a day, which includes an AM&PM check-in, and possibly an overnight stay. One has a base fee of $20 or something, and then charges per animal, or per job, which I guess works out for some people if they just the run-in mucked out every other day or something.


            • #7
              I keep my horses in exactly the same situation in the summer -- low maintenance, toss feed, fill water 2x day. I used to pay my (horsey) nextdoor neighbor kid $15/day. Now he's grown up and gone off to college, so a girl from my trainer's barn will often do it for me and I pay her $30/day because she has to drive to get to my place.

              Also when you are going away, remember to make appropriate veterinary emergency arrangements. I always leave my number, a backup number, and a backup backup number. And the vet's number. I also call the vet to let them know i'm out of town, who's taking care of my horses, and authorize a particular $$ amount of care for each horse for if there's an emergency and I can't be reached. I also hand-write this information on a piece of paper and say "In the event of a veterinary emergency and I am unreachable, I authorize (horse sitter or other trusted party) to make decisions for my horse and will pay up to $x for any veterinary bills incurred."


              • #8
                I actually provide this type of service fro "select" people in my area. I charge minium of $10/ trip or $20/day for 5 or fewer horses adding $5 for each additional 5 animals. I add addtional $10 for stall cleaning 1x/day. I'm very picky about who I sit for one time I was left with not enough hay or grain and no way to contact owner. Needless to say i never will work for her again. You best bet is asking other small horse farms in the area who they use. That is how I've gotten some of my jobs.


                • #9
                  I pay $25/day for someone who is relatively "local" to come out twice a day and feed, check water. No cleaning of stalls.

                  I have someone now who likes to come and stay at the house, she lives in a small apartment and really enjoys the occasional "upgrade" to stay out here. I pay her $25/day, too.

                  Before I found her, I found high school girls through the local high school vo-ag instructor. I just called him and asked for some good names. There were several interested.


                  • #10
                    Word of mouth is your best bet, by far.

                    I charge anywhere between $25 and $40/day depending on the amount of work expected. So far I haven't had any jobs that require stall cleaning, but I would probably have to charge a smidge more for that.

                    You could also check Care.com and do some interviews/check references. I had one client find me that way.
                    To be loved by a horse should fill us with awe, for we hath not deserved it.


                    • #11
                      I've been lucky - I have two super nice, responsible neighbor kids that I rotate using who will come over and feed my guys... Mine are about like yours - out 24 hours so no stalls, I measure and bag up feed so all they have to is dump it in the buckets and throw hay. I only have two and one is a mini - I pay $5 a trip, $10 a day. If I had more horses or was having an adult/non-neighbor come over I would expect to pay more though, I know I'm getting a steal of a deal


                      • #12
                        I was going to check FFA and the local 4H but our new farrier came out the other day and it ends up that someone who lives on his property, works at the race barn at the end of the road and passes our house twice a day, so we are going to use him in future.


                        • #13
                          I do house sitting exactly like this in the PNW for $50/day, and I stay at the house overnight. I have done well finding clients through word of mouth, talk to your vet especially and they may know someone looking for a little job like this. Here is one tip: if you like the house sitter and they do a good job, make sure you treat them well ($tips, stock the fridge, etc.) so they will want to watch for you again in the future!


                          • #14
                            Ask around. I actually use my trainer's assistant. She's young, responsible, comfortable with animals, and lives with her parents. She always welcomes an opportunity to bring her dog and hang out at our place. We're actually headed out on a 12 day vacation very soon and she'll be staying here and minding the chickens, dogs, barn cats and 2 horses. This time of year she has to do stalls, but we're set up to be really easy and fast since we both work full time. In all, it's MAYBE 30-45 minutes of work per day (including morning/night feedings of everyone and cleaning stalls).

                            I think she charges too little ($30 per day), so usually leave a fridge full of 20 year old friendly food when we leave and this time around am "tipping" her by designing her new logo and business cards for no fee.

                            In the end, she's cheaper than putting the dogs at the kennel and paying the neighbor girl to do hens, cats and horses.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by UrbanHennery View Post
                              so usually leave a fridge full of 20 year old friendly food when we leave
                              i had to read that twice, as I thought the food was 20 years old (but friendly)!


                              • #16
                                I just figured out that my next door neighbor (who's been riding my small pony for the last year or so) is the best housesitter ever! I'm thrilled to have a great farmsitter living so close to me

                                We headed out of town for 2 weeks in December and I paid her $50 a day to take care of the 4 horses I have here (mine are out 24/7, but one has access to a stall that has to be cleaned daily), my 2 dogs, and 2 cats. Staying the night was also part of the job (next door or not I wanted someone ON the property with the horses and dogs).

                                I used to pay a couple of college kids $20 a night to do the same and never got any complaints, so I figure something in that $20-$50 range is probably appropriate.
                                Flying F Sport Horses
                                Horses in the NW


                                • #17
                                  No advice on where to find people since my family is in that problem as well.

                                  However, what I CAN say is that please try not to pay too little. I house/pet/horse sit for people and have a story of my own about that.

                                  The person I was doing it for lives about 15-20 minutes away from my house. He has 4 horses outside, a few cows, 3 horses inside and 4 dogs. The job took me about 2 hours each time I went because the inside horses are messy, I had to spread the manure, the dogs needed play time outside and would always run off, the outside horses' pen was straight mud so hauling hay out there was a pain in the ass, etc, etc, etc. I did this job for 3 days. After they returned I went to pick up my money and he said how is $50? I was thinking $50 a day, so I said okay. NOPE, just plain old $50 for that pain in the ass job. I was not happy. It probably didn't even cover the gas money needed to get there and back home 3 times a day. Grrrr.
                                  Last edited by NBChoice; Jan. 6, 2012, 06:34 PM.
                                  http://www.youtube.com/user/NBChoice http://nbchoice.blogspot.com/
                                  The New Banner's Choice- 1994 ASB Mare
                                  Dennis The Menace Too- 1999 ASB Gelding
                                  Dreamacres Sublime- 2008 ASB Gelding


                                  • #18
                                    I housesit, for farms and pets. Unless it's a doing a friend a favor situation, you aren't going to get me to stay at your house for less than $25/day - and that's for just pets; horses start at $35, stalls or no, because they require more specialized knowledge, are more work and have more potential issues (everyone I work with currently wants someone staying there, so I haven't had to consider yet what I'd charge if it was just going out once or twice a day). When I'm housesitting, I make an effort to be "home" as much as possible, so it is a disruption to my regular schedule - and remember you are paying for not just the time your sitter spends at your place, but also the time that s/he is WILLING to spend if something should go wrong, and his/her expertise (which has probably been years and lots of expense in the making) to deal with anything that happens.

                                    I don't advertise (it's not really a "business" for me - more of a bonus when it happens), but get new folks through word-of-mouth - both by being recommended and by having it come up in the course of conversation. Figure out what you are looking for (especially whether you want someone to stay onsite or not), and then ask friends, vets, local barns...I bet you'll get several recommendations. Then don't be afraid to ask questions and feel out a person to make sure s/he is both knowledgeable and a good fit for your situation. How knowledgeable you NEED is really up to you - and is going to have a direct effect on how much you pay. The neighbor kid might be $15 a day, but on the other end of the spectrum a licensed vet tech might be $50. You just have to decide what you are comfortable with, and what you can afford.
                                    Proud member of the EDRF


                                    • #19
                                      I did this for a friend of mine pretty regularly - 2 horses, but in either all night or all day, depending on the time of year. Groom, change fly sheets / blankets 2x daily, clean stalls, pick paddock out daily, plus feeding & water. Took me about 1 1/2 hours for each feeding, and she was super picky about how she wanted everything done. I charged $25 a trip or $50 a day. Horses were very well behaved and knew the routine, they were really good to handle.

                                      Another option is if you have another small farm owner nearby - maybe you can make arrangements to swap care ? You go away, she takes care of your horses, and if she goes away, you take care of her horses ? This can work out really well for everyone with the right person.


                                      • #20
                                        Ask your horsey friends and neighbors who they use. I didn't know what to do when we moved to a new area last year. Luckily, my neighbors recommended an amazing woman (in her 50's who is meticulous and a worrier - like me). She is wonderful, but I pay big time. The neighbors pay her $75 a day for their 3 horses plus pets...so since I have 4 horses I thought I should pay more. I pay her $125 a day for 4 horses (in 12 hours out 12 hours, unless the weather really sucks), one dog and one cat. She comes to my house 4 times a day to let the dog out and play with the cat along with horse stuff - stall cleaning, feeding, turnout, etc. It really adds up fast, BUT I can call her anytime and I know she does an amazing job and I don't have to worry. Ever.