We all have experienced the stress of last minute packing, making sure there is enough food for our household pets, and remembering to stop our mail service in preparation to head out of town. Whether you are headed out for a weekend getaway or a weeks long trip, having everything in place for horse care is extremely important, especially in the case of an emergency. Here are some tips and resources to help you prepare, whether your horse lives at home or is boarded.
Find a Horse-Sitter: someone you trust to care for them that is responsible, knowledgeable and reliable, experienced with equine injuries and emergencies; ask for referrals from friends and vet.
Decide what actions and treatments you want to be made in the case of an emergency (colic surgery, euthanasia, monetary limit). Make sure your caregiver, veterinarian, and decision-maker all know; arrange for emergency transportation.
Designate one or more agents to make emergency decisions.
Determine how emergency medical bills will be paid.
Inform your veterinarian you are leaving town and who is authorized to call for care; set up an arrangement for payment in case you are not reachable.
Utilize a Contact List: make sure everyone has copies; should include where you are going, how to reach you, vet and farrier phone numbers, contact info for any caretakers and decision makers, and insurance information (if horse is insured).
Have a Backup: find one or two people who can fill in if something happens to your caregiver (illness, injury).
Notify Your Neighbors: let them know you'll be out of town so they won't worry if they see someone else coming and going from your property; they can also keep an eye on your horses and property while you are gone.
Be Current on Care: don't leave special tasks for the caregiver, such as farrier appts, deworming, vaccines, etc, unless prearranged.
Stock Up On Feed: make sure enough hay, grain and supplements are in supply.
Be Ready: make sure there are no outstanding repairs or maintenance needed on the barn, paddocks, fencing and equipment; smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are in good working order; first aid kit is stocked and accessible.
Walk-Through: have the caretaker meet you before your trip to walk through your routine and ask any questions they may have; let them know if you have anyone who visits your property regularly.
Working with your caretaker to keep things on your horse's normal routine as much as possible can help alleviate any stress your horse may experience with you being gone. By being prepared in advance of leaving, you can rest assured that your horse is in good hands and enjoy your vacation to its fullest!