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Holiday help: peace of mind while you’re away

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]henever we get to this time of year, it’s time to start thinking about putting your horses and yard in safe hands while you’re away. Whether you’re on a smallholding with two or three horses on your property, or run a full-time livery yard, you want someone you can trust to care for your horses as if they were their own. You’ll want peace of mind that things are taken care of and running smoothly in your absence, so bringing in temporary staff you trust is of paramount importance.

Finding help

Most yards need temporary grooms to help over the holidays so that the full-time grooms can enjoy some well-deserved time off. Bigger yards may be looking for a temporary stable manager and possibly work riders as well. There’s no better recommendation to go on than testimonies of close friends or colleagues who know the horsey business. Network with your personal circle of trusted friends or contacts, or speak to your vet for a recommendation, and you are likely to be referred to someone reliable. Ask your source where they found the temp and what kind of work they were expected to do, as well as their general feedback about the person’s work. If you’re looking for a groom, ask your most reliable groom if he knows of a dependable temp who might fit the role of overlooking the day-to-day running of the yard while you’re away.

Make sure they fit for the job

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, start with a phone call. It’s important to outline your expectations and to propose a rough remuneration before arranging a day and time for an interview, so that you don’t waste your time or theirs. Make it clear to the candidate that a permanent position may not be offered after their holiday work, as some will be hoping for that. On the other hand, let them know if there is a possibility of a permanent or part-time job in the future – it may just be the extra motivating factor for them to go above and beyond your expectations while you’re away.

Organise a face-to-face meeting if you’re feeling positive after the telephonic communication. When you meet up, show them around, introduce them to the key people in the yard, and give them a very detailed breakdown of how things work. Mention any challenges they may come across, such as difficult horses, and ensure that they feel confident about dealing with said problems. Explain exactly what they’re responsibilities will be and what won’t.


Written contract

When entering into any employment agreement, whether permanent or temporary, it’s important to draw up a written contract that will protect both of you. The document should specify the labour period and the exact duties you expect of your temp. It’s important to outline that the labour is temporary and that a permanent position may not be available after you return.

What to leave before you go

You’ll want to leave for your holiday with peace of mind that things will be okay in your absence. Make sure to leave the following before you head on your way:

  • List of contact numbers
  • Written outline of the yard’s daily routine
  • Feeding chart that specifies portions and supplements
  • Feeding and bedding stock
  • First aid kit and toolkit
  • All necessary keys and spares
  • Emergency money (to be used to buy supplies or airtime)

Keeping in touch

Try to make contact with your staff every morning and every evening to make sure all is running smoothly on their side. They can then raise any queries they might have and you can double check any concerns you might have. If you have a trusted friend staying in town, it’s not a bad idea to ask them to drop in every few days to see that everything is taken care of and there is nothing the grooms might be short of.

The full article appears in the November issue (128) of HQ > Shop now