Thinking of an Equine Housesit?

Today is National Day Of The Horse and there are many Equine loving members in our community both pet parents/owners and sitters …

“*Have you wondered whether looking after horses could be part of your house-sitting journey? Perhaps you’re an experienced equestrian looking for horses to be an integral part of your travelling, or maybe you’re someone who is confident around larger animals and you’ve come across a perfect sit that happens to include horses”" Laura C., Sitter Member

Thinking of an Equine Housesit? :horse:

5 Top Tips Learnt from Experience

When my husband and I travel, equine house sits are our absolute favourite. Along the way we’ve learnt what’s important when planning to look after horses. Here are my 5 top tips to consider before you apply to an equine house sit

  1. Be honest about your experience in your profile

When house sitting, it’s essential that your profile accurately reflects your experience with any animal, but none more so than horses.

Hosts looking for care for their horses will specifically be looking for this information. If your profile doesn’t mention horses you could be overlooked.

On the other hand, if you indicate you are experienced with horses and this is not strictly the case you could be putting the horses (and yourself!) in danger.

  1. Understand the requirements of the sit before you commit

A horse house sit can require higher levels of commitment than others. Check the listing to understand what the host expects before you commit.

  • How many times per day do the horses require attention? You will need to plan your days around the host’s usual routine
  • Will you be required to muck out stables, paddocks or corrals? This can be a physical job which you will need to be comfortable with
  • How much interaction with the horses is expected? You could be required to catch them in the field, move them from one location to another, pick out their feet, groom them, change their rugs etc. You’ll need to ensure that you are confident completing all the required tasks

If you have any queries – make sure you ask! A video call with the host can be invaluable.

  1. Think about worst case scenarios

Hopefully nothing will go wrong during your housesit, but it’s important to consider what you’d do if something did.

This is really where being honest with your experience is key. The requirements for a sit may only be to put out hay once a day, but would you be able to notice and care for an injury if it were to happen?

  1. If you’d like to ride – ask before you go!

Never make the assumption that just because you’re looking after horses, you’ll be able to ride them. If this is important to you, ask the host before you commit.

In my experience, riding horses during a housesit is rare (but wonderful when it happens!). If you do ride it is likely to be with the host before or after your stay.

Don’t be disappointed if it’s not an option – there’s so much more to a horse housesit than the riding!

  1. Pack the right clothes

Last (but definitely not least!), think about what you’ll need to pack. Come rain or shine you’re going to be out in the elements looking after your horsey friends. Whether its walking through muddy paddocks in the rain, mucking out corrals with the sun blazing or putting out bales of hay in the snow, you’re going to want to be comfortable.

If you and your host have agreed that riding is an option, then make sure you have all the equipment you’ll need to ride safely – don’t rely on your host to provide for you!

When I reflect on the housesits I’ve completed, the most memorable, most challenging, and most enjoyable have all been with horses. I now actively look for housesits with horses and can’t recommend it enough!

Introducing Laura

"Hi! I’m Laura, and I’ve spent the last 12 months travelling North America with my husband Joe and 2 Springer Spaniels, Albus & Lupin. We love the wilderness and so most of our house sits have been in rural locations, 5 of which have involved looking after horses. Prior to our travels we were both experienced with horses – I have owned horses for a large proportion of my life focusing on eventing and endurance riding whilst Joe enjoys playing polo. We both love to fit horses and riding into as many of our travel plans as possible!

Thank you for sharing your Top Tips Laura.

If anyone has any questions I’m sure you’ll find the answers here on the forum … and do share your experiences with horses :horse: :racehorse: :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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@Angela-HeadOfCommunity great article, great day and great pics!

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Thank you @Debbie-Moderator we have Laura (sitter member) to thank for creating this excellent piece and in record time, she was incredibly busy up until yesterday and delivered in in 2 hours (or less) :horse: :heartbeat:

Fabulous share! Thank you Laura, this is a fun read with great things to consider.

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Thanks, Laura
Excellent tips for folks who might be considering horses.
I’ve done 2 sits that included horses - but was very careful to discuss expectations.
The first was a long weekend with Mack, the horse and Bear, the dog. The HO and I talked a lot before the sit - the horse was an outside horse and my responsibilities were to be sure the food and water troughs were filled and to open a gate so the horse could move from 1 pasture to another. The big horse was a very relaxed guy - he actually participated in civil war reenactments so was quite calm. HOs have had 2 other sitters since me so I guess things went well.
Mack in SC


The second was with a pair of miniature horses at a regular home in Miami. Needed to shovel the manure into the compost bin once a day, which wasn’t too different from picking up after a really big dog. The horses were fun - Smokey was quite curious and when I’d sit in the yard reading, he would stand behind me almost as if reading over my shoulder.
But I’m not interested in mucking out a stable and I don’t ride so generally don’t seek out a horse sit.
tom
Smokey, the curious in Miami

Rae, Miami

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@toml those horses are absolutely adorable :heart_eyes: thanks so much for sharing!

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I’d love to look after miniature horses

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I’ve sat horses in Scotland and Alpacas in Northumberland as well as sheep. I’ve tried to make it clear on my profile that, although I’ve ridden horses and cared for them as part of holidays, I’ve never had my own horse so am not experienced in full livery type arrangements. I’m fairly sure I could spot basic issues, lameness etc, not sure about other stuff. I’d expect the owner to leave details of local friends that could assist if I was concerned and obviously vet details.
I’m happy to pick up in fields and move between paddocks. I’ve also moved a horse every few hours from field to stable as he wasn’t allowed to eat too much fresh grass.
I think any of these sort of sits need a good amount of discussion and contact. I’ve said I’m happy with livestock but not an experienced farm hand and have sat low maintenance Hebridean sheep.
I look for these sort of sits as they are possibly more open to accepting me bringing my 2 Labradors.

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While we are talking about one of my favorite subjects this image was just shared with me … it’s my blind rescue pony Hope, yes she’s the little one, together with her friend and eyes pictured on a frosty morning in Shropshire :horse: :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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Don’t forget that equine includes both horses, AND donkeys, who do have some important and distinct care and behavioral differences., as well as some commonalities.

Personally donkeys are my absolute favorite, and I’m always on the prowl for donkey sits. Here’s a pic of Elvis, a beautiful mini donkey that I looked after in Arizona on one my first sits.

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And here is a picture of Sophie, a geriatric (35 years old), blind, miniature horse I had the privilege of caring for recently! That contraption on her head is to protect her eyes as she had recently had a minor surgery on one of her eyes after an infection. It’s a modified bra! Ingenious, ha?

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@toml but they are so very beautiful!

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As a retired large animal vet-tech I really appreciate this important article! Having seen and/or worked on/cared for almost every possible equine illness/injury at a Vet school teaching clinic, my fear with possible newbie sitters is in the area of “what you don’t know you don’t know.” Recognizing colic within a couple of hours of onset is often a life or death situation. Not familiar with colic? That’s my point. And beyond the questions you’d ask a Home Owner regarding Vet care for a dog or cat, you’d need to ask about the distance the equine vet needs to travel in an emergency. Would the owner possibly go to the expense of sending their horse to a clinic, if there is one close enough? Do they have a truck and trailer on the property and/or someone available to transport in an emergency? Can the owners be reached by the vet for major decision making? So many questions. So much responsibility for a free sitter! Just some food for thought. We all want the best for the animals in our care!

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Hi @Onharmonyroad thank you for even more important points …

In the unlikely event that it’s necessary to get a horse to a vet it’s far from routine if all the right transportation isn’t available. Then there’s the question how easy is the horse to box? Knowing how to handle a box shy horse takes skill and experience.

There are educational articles of the website blog including this one on laminitis

I have a sit with a miniature pony in January and i cant wait! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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Thanks for the great tips @Angela-HeadOfCommunity !

We are on a house-sit now with horses and have no horse experience. And we were house-sitting a couple months ago with donkeys and we also have no experience with such animals.

Both house owners have been super helpful with instructions and advice before they left. For both house-sits we arrived 3-7 days early to spend time with the animals and learn about morning and afternoon routines and get to know the property better. Luckily, for both our accommodation was separate from the owners but still on the property.

Since we are travelling long term and have limited luggage/bags we found and bought rubber/work boots and extra sweaters at local cheap stores/kmart in the first few days so that we would have comfortable, safe, dry, warm clothing and boots to account for the time outside in the chilly, wet or bugs/ticks while looking after the animals. We have also bought gloves. And then we leave the boots and clothes or donate them before leaving the country.

We communicated clearly that we have no horse or donkey experience. I grew up on a beef farm, so I have farm experience, but horses are quite different. The house owner for both sits has left vet contacts, friends, and neighbours we can contact if there is a problem. For our current house-sit the owners also decided to board 4 of the 6 horses.

I feel the honest communication, arriving early, willingness to learn (from the owners and a few google videos) and a bit of luck has (so far) made both house-sits with these amazing animals (horses and donkeys).

It’s nice to hear that others are looking after horses or big animals and not just the little house pets. :slight_smile:

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We’ve done horse sits in England, New Mexico and France and Washington State. My wife loves horses. One one piece of advise. Always make sure that you know whether or not mucking stalls is involved. If it’s not stated we Always ask.

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