The holidays are quickly approaching, which means plenty of time spent with family and friends. If you travel for the holidays and keep your horses at home, then you’ll need to find a great barn sitter to cover things while you’re away. Knowing that your barn sitter is reliable, trusty, and knowledgeable can allow you to kick back and enjoy your horses without worry about what’s going on at home. These five tips can help you to find the perfect barn sitter to take care of your property and animals.
1. Start Looking Now
Good barn sitters get booked up quickly for the holidays, so if you haven’t already begun your search, it’s time to start looking. When you find the right barn sitter, make sure to book them for the dates that you’ll be away. And if you’re still determining your travel plans and dates, now is the time to finalize them.
2. Decide What Your Barn Sitter Needs to Know
Think about what your barn sitter needs to know, and what specific skills they should possess. In addition to basic horse handling and care experience, you might want your barn sitter to have qualities like those below:
- Experience handling young or green horses
- Ability to recognize health issues like colic, and a basic knowledge of equine first-aid
- Skills in driving a tractor
- The ability to ride/lunge/keep horses in work
The exact skills you need in your horse sitter will depend on your situation, how long you’ll be gone, and the type of care that your horses need. At the very minimum, look for a barn sitter with extensive equine experience.
3. Ask for Referrals
It might be tempting to turn to social media or the bulletin boards in your local tack store, but those aren’t necessarily the best place to find a barn sitter. Instead, start by asking people you trust for referrals. Your vet, farrier, and other horse and barn owners may know of great barn sitters who don’t even advertise. Make a list of people that others recommend, and definitely look into barn sitters whose names repeatedly come up.
4. Ask for References
You will want to ask a barn sitter detailed questions about their experience in order to determine if they’re a good fit for your needs. Don’t forget to also ask for references. Then, call up each of those references and have a conversation about their experience with the sitter.
While you’re at it, do a quick Google search of the barn sitter’s name – you never know what valuable information you may learn.
5. Have a Backup Contact
Even if you find a great barn sitter that you’re highly confident in, it’s always important to have a backup contact that the sitter can call on for help. This contact should be local – you won’t be much help if you’re across the country and there’s a loose horse, a cast horse, or another problem. Plus, if the sitter should get sick or injured, having a backup can ensure that your horses will still be cared for.
Spending some time away from your barn can be refreshing and relaxing. When you know you have a great sitter back home looking after your property, the holidays will be even more enjoyable.