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Support system when keeping your horses at home

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    Support system when keeping your horses at home

    For those of you who live alone and keep your horses at home, which kind of a support system do you have in place when you're sick/hurt for instance?
    I keep my herd at home, live alone, and don't have family nearby. None of my local friends are horsey and neither are my neighbors. It's totally fine usually and I enjoy taking care of my critters but there are occasional days, like today when I am on day 4 of the flu, fever, migraine and all and as I was crawling in the hay loft earlier this evening trying to find enough strength to finish haynets, I kept thinking that surely there's got to be a "better" way in these situations...
    Which kind of support system do have in place for these sitations?

    Get on Facebook and see if you can find a local horse forum. A month ago when DH was headed into heart surgery, I found myself in a situation similar to yours. Haven’t made many new friends in Colorado yet, knew no one reliable to help with the horses. I posted in the local FB group and six people responded. I talked to each of them and they were all neat folks. I hired one who lives very close to me. Now I’m having her help out every morning M-F so I can get to work on time! Great resource. Good luck.


      I have a friend who has looked after my animals while I have traveled, and she knows the horses and house pets well enough to jump in if something should happen. I also keep my grain set in bags (1-2weeks at a time) just in case. I also have a coworker who lives very locally who is familiar with all of the animals, and could jump in to cover things with very little guidance. I know a few other people who could probably step in as well, but they would need some detailed instruction.

      For me, the peace of mind that comes from knowing there are people to cover my animals in an emergency is priceless. It might be worth getting in touch with a local farm sitter who can be on call for you. Trying to care for horses with the flu is miserable, but if it was an injury or something that required hospitalization, you would be up a creek.


        We've cultivated some neighbors to trade animal care for vacations. They're not horse people but I've taught them enough that they are safe, and I set things up so it's easy (roundbale, 24/7 turnout, etc).

        Don't put this off any longer--you don't want to be scrambling in an emergency, trying to find a solution under duress.

        You can advertise, or, simply call or visit people living nearby and let them know that you are looking to hire animal sitting service and do they know of anyone?


          I have often considered developing a club of sorts for single women farm owners, where we can share our best contractors (been screwed a few times.....). I am lucky to live in a horsey area, and my neighbor and good friend cars for them while I am away or in other circumstances. I do the same for her.


            We made friends locally. We take care of each other.


              It's a good question. I don't know what I would do without my great neighbors (both sides nice horse people), it was definitely part of my land purchase decision, since I travel a lot for work.

              Helpers don't necessarily have to be horse people - I set up this farm so my horses could be fed by a monkey if need be - it could even be a monkey with one hand. I keep a current feed chart up & all the emergency contact #s, just in case I don't make it home alive or in one piece one day. I also train my horses to be used to clumsy people who do weird things (since that basically describes me) so that if someone does have to handle them, they don't die. Whether that means tying, loading, grooming, leading - I try to make the horses as monkey - proof as possible, which also makes my life easier.

              But I agree, start building the relationship & training now, bribing gullible friends (partly kidding). You never know when the pinch will strike.
              Life doesn't have perfect footing.

              Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
              We Are Flying Solo


                Usually my husband can fill in for me. But if not, we have a VERY reliable horse-sitter that we found MANY years ago through the local high school (she is now in her 30s).

                chief feeder and mucker for Music, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now). Spy is gone. April 15, 1982 to Jan 10, 2019.


                  I board at a barn that has a gaggle of teenagers who are good at this. They know the chores and can handle the horses competently, along with dogs, cats, and 4 goats. They can take care of horses but also will do some house sitting when someone is away.
                  "With hardly any other living being can a human connect as closely over so many years as a rider can with her horse." Isabell Werth, Four Legs Move My Soul. 2019


                    Just went through this myself. You have my sympathies—only a few more days to go!

                    Fortunately, I have horsey friends in the area and we all help other out as needed; additionally, my vet has given me good recommendations for horse sitters that I can hire in as necessary.

                    I’m willing to keep it simpler when others are stepping in to help out. Hay nets? They’ll survive without them for a few days. None of the supplements I feed are so critical that they’ll expire if they miss out for those few days too. Fortunately my current herd is healthy and pretty happy with “three hots and a cot.”



                      Call your local equine vet clinics and see if they have vet techs or assistants who might be able to help.
                      Talk to your farrier.. he may know someone who can pitch in as well.
                      Your feed store or hay dealer will be a good place to post a flyer, or better yet as someone behind the counter who can help.
                      Any horse farms within reasonable driving distance should have grooms (or barn rats) who might be able to help in a pinch.

                      Good luck.


                        In our area, a lot of vet techs in training seem to be interested in horse sitting.Mine are so simple, you don't need to go into stalls.


                          All these are good suggestions. You can also reach out to the local pony clubs/4H to see if any of the teens might be available to do light chores in a pinch (for money)
                          "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


                            Originally posted by lorilu View Post
                            I have often considered developing a club of sorts for single women farm owners, where we can share our best contractors (been screwed a few times.....). I am lucky to live in a horsey area, and my neighbor and good friend cars for them while I am away or in other circumstances. I do the same for her.
                            we did that for about twenty years. There were four families where we would cover when needed All had a few horses, all knew what they were doing. for the most part we paid for the "service" in bales of hay, had set fee of so many bales for some many horses per day of coverage.

                            Also helped cover emergency needs, I believe between the group we had enough equipment to do major surgery if needed


                              Ask your large or even small animal vets if there are any techs that are interested in taking care of horses after hours. We have a couple that will horse sit, feed, clean stalls etc.


                                You need at least 2 farm sitters who might be able to help you out in a pinch. Also, a way to just leave them outside 24/7 for a few days, even if they have to miss a few meals. If you have field shelters, heated waterers and a round bale, you may be able to just drag yourself out there once a day to make sure the water is OK and everyone seems good, and not have to do much actual work. If they miss a few meals it won’t be the end of the world. Hope you feel better soon!


                                  When I kept my horses at home I was in the same situation. Instead of trying to find someone reliable, I developed an "emergency" setup that cut waaaay down on the horsey chores while I was sick.

                                  For instance, my pastures had run-in sheds, so instead of coming into their stalls, they just stayed out until I felt well enough to clean stalls, fill buckets, etc. Blankets or turnout sheets were on if the weather called for them. The water tanks were large enough to last a week or more if necessary, and instead of feeding grain twice daily, they got enough hay at one time to last 24 hours, so that I only had to come out once a day to toss hay/check on them. Ideal? No, but it certainly didn't hurt them to skip a few grain feedings until I was back on my feet.
                                  "Dogs give and give and give. Cats are the gift that keeps on grifting." —Bradley Trevor Greive


                                    Also check professional petsitters. Some of them do horses also. Someone with a FB page or website who has been in business for a while and has good reviews might be a candidate.


                                      Original Poster

                                      Thanks everyone for the great ideas (and good wishes!).

                                      I have to say that some of your ideas are making me jealous: living in a rural, not terribly horsey area - we don't have any such thing as "local equine vet clinics" (there is a local dog vet an hour away that will do emergencies but otherwise it's trailering to the U vet school 3 hours away...), no boarding barn/riding program in a 2 hour radius (so no grooms nor barn rats - oh, how I wish we had Pony Club kids around!). And most farms around are large corporate crop operations - with the accompanying population decline (few of the houses around are actually occupied and my two closest neighbors are - lovely - widows in their 80s).

                                      Most people who have horses around here have them at home and rely on family networks that are tricky to connect to when a newcomer to the area (note to self: must bribe more "gullible" people with food ).
                                      I'll definitely ask my farrier and call the dog vet to ask if he nows of anyone so that I can have a few emergency contacts to call "just in case".

                                      I realize the need to have an emergency setup in place. It's just been more of a struggle than I anticipated when moving here a year ago: last year, I called the local 4H group for recommendations when I had to be out of town for work: in comes an 18 year-old young woman (highly recommended by the group leader - and who is now studying to become a large animal vet tech at the local community college). My set up is fairly easy as for the most part most of the critters are out 24/7 with a roundbale & an automatic waterer. I hired her for 3 days - to come once/day and check on the horses, grain, and hay the one who isn't on a roundbale: she missed 2 of the 3 days as by her own admission "she got busy as it was the fair and then she went to the concert with her friends..." As some of you said, it wasn't the end of the world for the horses to miss a few grain meals but the laminintic pony who is on a dry lot with haynets basically went without 2 of the 3 days (and was out of water when I got home - it was summer and over 90 degrees...) and she never thought to call when she was unable/couldn't be bothered to make it (I only found out when I got home and found most of my pre-prepared little baggies of grain & supplements still in the feed room).
                                      So, yes, I need to find more *reliable* people for emergencies/out of town work trips...

                                      Thanks everyone! I'll also check out the local facebook groups!


                                        For any personal illnesses, migraines, etc, I just suck it up and push through. Even when I had thumb surgery, I found a way to muck without my right thumb. For help when I'm away, I swap pet sitting with a neighbor. She took some lessons while in college 30 years ago but is otherwise not horsey. When I'm away, I leave the horses out 24/7 and just have her feed hay and check water and that they all appear to be in one piece. One time she did feed the 1/2 bale of straw I had in the barn, but the horses were none the worse for wear. I have another neighbor with a horse farm who could always step in in case of emergency. I also have Pony Club kids who I could probably hire if necessary.