By: Dr. Mike Guerini (www.dunmovinranch.com)
Tis the season for traveling and holidays and many people are left to entrust the care of their horses to a neighbor, family friend, or pet sitter. Here are five tips that can help us have a good plan in place for the care of our animals. To all who are traveling and visiting family this year — be safe and enjoy those precious moments.
1) Make the feeding and care of your animals as easy as possible. If you feed grain or supplements, have them all pre-measured and easily ready to be fed. If you can, have the hay set out and ready to be fed easily. Make sure the tire on the manure cart is pumped up and that the tools are easy to get ahold of for cleaning (nothing worse than being asked to clean stalls and the tires are flat and you first have to fix equipment before you can even be helpful). This also means having enough feed available. I took care of some horses once and when I arrived there was a note about going to the feed store and getting grain and moving hay out of the big barn…these things do happen but I urge you to make sure the person feeding does not have to do extra work.
2) Let your veterinarian know you will be out-of-town and who is taking care of your animals. I cannot tell you how many times when I worked for veterinarians people would call and have an emergency with an animal they were taking care of for a friend. The veterinarian is put into a bad situation because he/she does not know the owner is away or who has permission to feed or even how to easily get ahold of you should something go wrong. Keep your veterinarian in the loop and he/she can help your animals faster and with your input.
3) Have a back-up person ready to feed in the event of an emergency with your primary feeder. What if something happens to the person feeding for you — do you have somebody on speed dial that you can call who will make sure your horses are cared for in this situation. These are your horses and you are responsible for their care — make sure you have a back-up plan in place. Your primary feeder/caregiver may get hurt, have a family emergency, or become very sick…all things that you need to be able to adapt to and solve…sometimes 100’s of miles away.
4) Keep open lines of communication. Whether it be a call, text, or email….ask the person who is caring for your horse(s) to give you a daily update. For me, leaving my horses behind when I travel can be tough. I want to make sure I know they are okay. This may mean that you need to leave a secondary contact number (either the hotel or home where you are staying). Cell phones are great…but sometimes they fail. If you get into an area where your cell phone is not receiving a signal, get ahold of your feeder and let them know how to reach you by alternate means.
Safe travels my friends!!! If you have some additions, please feel free to comment so we help everyone make the best choices for their horses during this holiday season.
Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at http://www.dunmovinranch.com. Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (www.hydrot.com).