Leaving Horses Behind During the Holidays

We all need a good holiday every now and then; this can sometimes mean our beloved equine friends cannot come along (an image popped into my head of a horse sipping a margarita on a sun lounge in Bali!). Some careful planning must therefore be undertaken to ensure their comfort and your peace of mind whilst away. 

The first thing to consider is who is going to care for them for you? Ideally this would be someone of an horsey inclination, who is familiar with you own steeds. It certainly makes sense that this person should be able to maintain your horses’ feed, water and rugging schedule whilst away:

  • Changes to feed, either in amount, timing or type, can upset a horse’s gut and cause colic. This is the last thing you’ll want when away!
  • The importance of a plentiful supply of cool, fresh water must be impressed upon the carer. If troughs require manual filling, perhaps ask the carer to fill to the top every time they see the horses, rather than however often you do it yourself. This means if something comes up and they are unable to attend to your horses when they normally would, they at least do not have to worry about running out of water. This is a good practice to implement for yourself, as life is unpredictable.
  • If your horses are normally rugged, ensure that the routine is kept up. Make sure they understand how dangerous a hot winter rug can be if left on in the Summer months. 

If your horse is on any medications, ensure your carer is able to give them safely, and it would be a good idea to let your prescribing vet know their details so they are allowed to re-prescribe more medication to this person if necessary.

In fact, it is an excellent idea to ring your preferred vet and let them know who is going to be caring for your horses. It may also be pertinent to inform them of what level of permission you give the carer to act on your behalf. Are you financially burdened and thus would not be able to spend over a certain amount if something were to happen whilst you were away? It is a good idea to let both the vet and carer know about these sorts of things, as we can only administer treatments with the owner’s authorisation.

Leave your carer a page of your preferred vet’s details, perhaps with details of a second and third vet in case they are unable to get your preferred one. If your horse will be due for a farrier appointment whilst you’re away, it may be helpful to arrange this beforehand and exchange details of both farrier and carer so that they can contact one another easily. It is never a good idea to leave a horse’s feet without farrier treatment for too long, as cracks, abscesses and other painful and costly ailments can result. 

Perhaps arrange a back-up carer for the event that something happens to your first. Ensure this person is also familiar with the your horses, their routines, and your preferred contacts. 

It is important to have your horses identifiable, especially if you will be away. Microchipping them is always a safe bet, ensuring their numbers are registered with as many directories as possible. Maybe have a mare collar or similar on them with their property details clearly displayed, so they can be returned safely if they escape. 

It goes without saying that minimising the general risk in your paddock will reduce the risk of something untoward happening in your absence. Keeping fences safe and paddocks free from debris is always an excellent idea, as prevention is always better than cure (and believe us, we have seen horses suddenly deciding to injure themselves in their owner’s absence).

We don’t want you to stress about all the things that can can go wrong, but being prepared will certainly ease your mind and allow for you to actually relax on your well-earned break. Remember to take it easy when restarting your horses’ exercise regimes, even if their routine has only been disrupted for a week. And enjoy that holiday! We hope nothing goes amiss, but we will be here for you if it does!