I am considering joining Trusted Housesitters, particularly as an owner, but maybe as a sitter as well.
I have three horses, two dogs, one indoor cat, two outdoor cats, and 9 chickens. I have a young lady who usually cares for my “menagerie”. She does an excellent job, but she is not always available. My main concern is the horses. All of my animals are gentle, but horses are heavy, and a careless person can get injured, even with gentle animals. I know that people are not always truthful about their animal knowledge, either. So, I am concerned (1) about the liability (looks like insurance only covers cats and dogs), (2) whether or not my animals will be properly cared for, and (3) if participating in TrustedHousesitters is even worth the cost. From looking at the Forum, it appears that people don’t always find sitters.
It will almost certainly be more difficult for you to find a sitter with so many animals and horses. Unless maybe you’re in a very attractive area popular for horse riding. You can search your area for listings with horses and see how many applications they get. For insurance: you can always state that sitters need their own insurance. We have heard of people slipping on a house boat that we took care of and breaking their leg and my girlfriend has sprained her ankle so badly while walking a dog that she needed to walk on crutches for weeks. So such things can happen even with less challenging sits. Perhaps I would chose a couple / family / 2 friends rather than a single person for that reason. But I just come back from scrolling through last-minute sits so I’m seeing everything that could go wrong PS: As always, we also recommend registering on lots of platforms like this, it will increase your chances significantly. We didn’t “charge” our hosts for the sprained ankle or the crutches, of course
On behalf of the forum team, a warm welcome to the TrustedHousesitter’s community. I have seen some posts similar to yours that have a “menagerie,” I do not have any experience with horses or caring for them. However, I know there are many in our community that do and I hope they will chime in with their thoughts on your concerns. There’s actually one sit going on right now that has been sharing their experiences with the horses they are caring for on the TrustedHousesitters Instagram stories. I would also think during the interviewing process it would be fairly simple to discern who really has horse experience and who doesn’t with a few questions but maybe that tells you more about how little I know about horses.
If you do decide to become a member of THS, as you cannot share a link to your listing in this post, do share a link to your listing on your forum profile for a bit of extra exposure. But the main website is where ALL our members will see your opportunity and be able to apply and message with you.
If at any time you need any help don’t hesitate to reach out to our community here which is full of helpful members who have been through the process themselves and will happily give advice and guidance. And don’t forget our membership support team are always on hand to give assistance.
All the very best,
Kelly & the Forum Team
Hi Amy, I think the investment of the membership fee will be worth it even if it secures you one decent sit. The cost of hired help for taking care of all those animals would be far higher so a sitter that works for you will be gold! A face to face zoom or FT will give you a good insight into their true abilities with horses in particular.
We are about to head to regional Victoria, Australia for a 4 week sit looking after 1 horse ( it was 4 horses when we applied), 1 young border collie, 1 cat and a couple of chooks. The only horse experience we have is throwing some hay to horses in a field & watching our daughter at riding lessons (we never owned a horse). When we applied we were looking at caring for 4 horses, 1 on medication, having to adjust rugs when necessary, organise feed & administer medication. We were upfront with the HO about the extent of our experience. We follow directions very well & are very sensible. We will let you know how we go…
Hi @AmyS - Welcome to the group
I just checked and there are currently 1,940 sitters in the UK that are happy to sit for horses so, although that is far fewer than how many are available to sit for cats/dogs it still will give you a decent chance of finding a sitter. The joining fee for THS starts at £100 pre annum, I have no idea how much it would cost you to pay for someone to look after your 3 horses plus other pets but am guessing it would be much more than £100 for one night. To me, it sounds like joining THS would be a very sound investment.
For liability, you could ask for sitters to have their own insurance but as we do not gain financial reward for what we do many choose not to have this. Is it possible that you could speak to your own insurance provider to see if sitters could be added for short periods of time?
I am not sure why you think that people are not always truthful about their animal knowledge? I can only say that the vast majority of sitters on THS are extremely honest and responsible. During the application process it would be up to you to do you own due diligence by asking the right questions as I am sure you would with people from wherever you find your pet sitters.
We have also applied to 1 sit with horses, but we communicated our minimal experience with horses openly. There was help nearby that we could rely on and the HO clearly stated that horse experience is not mandatory. We are still open to sitting horses as well, but we know our limitations and would not try to hide them. Not sure why anyone would trouble themselves by not being truthful to you and ending up in situation that they can’t handle, just for a place to stay?
For all sits its important in your profile to state who you are looking for and the amount of experience you think is required. Then when you get applicants you will soon be able to tell in discussions whether you think their experience is enough.
On horses specifically it will possibly limit the number of sitters you have applying but there sitters like myself who are happy to look after them and have lots of experience.
Hi @AmyS Welcome to our community forum and we also look forward to welcoming you and your “menagerie” to our pet loving THS community.
When looking for the right sitter for pet/animal care the key is to be clear about your animal’s needs and your expectations that way the right sitters will apply.
For instance with your horses; Are they easy to handle, do they live in or out. What daily care do they need? Grooming; do sitters need to groom daily including picking out hooves? Are your horses rugged up, what about exercise? Are you looking for specific equine experience or sitters with basic knowledge who can put a head collar on and are safe and comfortable around large animals?
As for ascertaining their suitability and knowledge levels as @PetsSit says you will be able to determine that when talking to them as we advise having video calls with preferred sitter applicants before finalizing any arrangement.
Communication, choosing the right sitter for your animals and home and making sure the arrangement will work for everyone involved is the key to a successful sit experience for pets and people.
I should think any potential sitter who hasn’t got experience with horses would be extremely irresponsible in even considering applying to you, should you join THS. As has been mentioned already it should become crystal clear to you whether someone has got the experience or not if you ask the appropriate questions. I wouldn’t have a clue about handling horses, not even one let alone three. Definitely a couple would be best with your menagerie. I wish you luck in your search, there are certainly people here who would love to help you!
Thank you for your very thorough answer!
Thank you. It looks to me, based on some of these threads, that some people have had pretty bad experiences with some of the sitters. I know that there are people who will say they have experience with horses just to be around them. I know it sounds strange, but it’s true.
@AmyS As you’re a new member of the forum, I’ll just share a tip with you. It may help other new members. You’ve been kind enough to reply to those who have commented, but they may not see your efforts the way you’ve done it. I doubt you’d want that to happen.
If you are replying to a specific person and they did not start the post, use the greyed-out Reply option at the end of their message.
The green one at the very end replies to the person who started the post.
I always like to start my reply each time with the username (@name), even when I use the greyed-out arrow, as I think it makes it easier for forum readers to follow things. That’s just my preference.
@Snowbird Thanks for the tip re the different “Reply” options - I never knew that!
@AmyS I am sure you will find capable sitters for your horses. As others have said make sure your requirements are explicit and do discuss it with potential sitters: you will soon find out how much experience they have.
We are House Owners with a menagerie of ducks, chickens, sheep, pigs & a dog and, thus, even more limited than you will be in the number of sitters available. We have always had incredible sitters who have taken great care of the animals. We haven’t looked for sitters post Covid and I believe there are now more sits than sitters so it might be harder to find the right sitters.
Even though we state that experience with sheep is needed (yes, the saying that sheep are born with the sole intention of finding ways to kill themselves is true) we have had applicants who, for example, once stroked a sheep & thinks they would be suitable.
It is, also, useful to include in your posting the amount of time involved looking after the animals. We have quite a menagerie but in reality it only takes 40 minutes morning & early evening plus 5 minutes at dusk to shut the birds up
As a smallholding we have Public Liability Insurance. Don’t BHS, your own insurance or similar offer this for horse owners?
I would certainly recommend THS for you - we hadn’t had a break for several years before discovering THS. Good luck.
I’ve done 2 sits with horses - was completely up front about my inexperience.
First was with a full grown horse who spends all of his time outdoors in a pasture with shade and a pond - so no mucking the stable. All I had to do was make sure the water trough was filled morning and evening and scoop horse pellets into another trough. I was worried about thunderstorms and such but the HOs assured me the horse would be fine. And he was. The horse was quite calm and used to loud noises as he participated in civil war battle re-enactments. It was a short sit, only 3 nights alone with the horse and the dog.
The second was a week with a pair of miniature ponies who lived in a suburban back yard in Miami. The yard was covered in pea gravel - I did have to pick up the droppings and move it to a compost bin. A bit more work than some of the giant dogs I’ve sat with. And the ponies had a shed for nights. The dark pony was a lot of fun - when I’d sit in the yard reading he would stand behind me, almost as if reading over my shoulder.
Just so darn cute!
Hello Amys ! I also had two sits with horses but the HO and I managed the tasks in a way It could suits my profile. The rest of the animals on the site (chickens, cats and dogs) I was experienced with, so she was interested in having me as a sitter. So was I to be with her critters.
1- I put fresh water and filled the horse’s buckets with a mixture of grain and hay /each day.
2-I gave them carrots
A neighbor she hired came to clean the stalls as the horses needed to be handled during that time. The second time, my daughter who has experience with horses, did the handlings. Everything went very smoothly. I keep good memories of the dogs coming with me at the pasture early morning to feed the horsies.
Hi @AmyS, it’s funny you should post this now, I’m planning my own post about horse sitting…
I’m currently on a sit with one horse (plus a dog and chickens) Previously I did 3 separate sits for same two horses. My experience was mainly having taken riding lessons for a few years as an adult, riding when I can as I travel, and have done some minor care with experienced supervision.
And I had emergencies at both sits due to underlying problems “rearing their heads.” In both instances I called in the local support people whose contact info was given to me (on both occasions time différences meant i couldn’t reach the HOs in timely fashion) and then called in vets. The first horse (30 years old!) improved quickly and the owner was extremely grateful; this horse is improving nicely (laminitis) but it’s become more involved care and I’ve learned a lot.
All of this is to say…come out and ask for the degree of experience you’re comfortable with (including prior horse sits), read reviews, ask detailed questions in a zoom or FaceTime meeting.
My next sit is a huge ménagerie on a farm, headed up by a horse and donkey. I’m more experienced than I was even a week ago, but I’ll certainly make sure I’ve got backup.
Sorry — this was crazy long.
I recall seeing a sit with horses (and many other animals) where the HO wrote “the horses are easy to care for and no trouble.” That lackadaisical attitude gave me serious pause. As this thread indicates, it’s important that a sitter is sensitive to and can read a particular animal, unless there is solid and reliable backup. For that reason alone, I would not apply for a horsesit unless an experienced person was available nearby and I was only tasked with feeding and the occasional brushing.
As a cat-experienced person, I can pick up on subtle physical and emotional discomforts where some people would not. As others have said, it’s more likely than not that applicants would be straightforward about their abilities and interest in sit responsibilities, and it’s vital for HOs to be clear and detailed about expectations and possibilities.