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Holiday Help

Whether you keep your horses on your own property or run a livery yard, if you’re planning on going away over the holidays, then you’ve probably arranged for someone to keep a careful eye on everything in your absence. You might have sourced them through a trusted contact and triple-checked their references, but can you really trust the temp to keep things running smoothly while you’re away?

Choose someone reliable

If you haven’t gotten round to organising a temp yet, or if you’re only taking off in January, you’ll want to choose the best possible person to step into your role. Reach out to 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. You can also reach out to your groom and ask him 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’re suitable

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, make contact with each person via 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.

If you’re feeling positive about the candidate after the phone call and you feel that you’re on the same page, organise for an interview where you can meet the temp in person and show them how your yard operates. When you meet up at your yard, give the individual a thorough rundown of how things work, who’s responsible for doing what, and make sure to point out ‘special case’ horses. It’s important to introduce the temp to the staff who will still be working over December.

Making things work

If it’s possible, get your temp to come work in your yard for a few days before you leave so that he can familiarise himself with the routine. If you are expecting the temp to housesit or care for any other animals on the property, make sure you give clear instructions. As with the horses, let your temp know about any funnies he might experience in your absence. You don’t want him to call the vet out for a dog who likes to spend all day sleeping, or a horse who tends to not finish his food. Inform your veterinary practice of the person stepping in.There may be temporary staff employed over the holidays at the veterinary clinic as well, so find out who the best person will be to contact in the event of an emergency.

Work rider

While most give their horses time off over December, depending on your personal circumstances you might be looking for someone to keep your horse in light work while you’re away. You can source a work rider through your riding friends or through your instructor.

If you plan on having someone come work-ride your horse, make sure you follow the same procedure by following up on their references and giving them a thorough breakdown of your expectations. Have them come ride your horse so you can see how they ride before you leave them with the task of schooling your horse. Ideally, you’ll want to give them a set number of days to ride and the type of schooling you’d like them to work on. Make sure you specify the length of the sessions and give the rider information on your horse’s personality and quirks. Make the rider aware of any problems they might encounter and how best to go about fixing them. The horse might have a tendency to hang on a certain rein, or is best warmed up in canter. Ask for regular updates while you’re away as well as general feedback where you can possibly give some constructive advice.

Written contract

To protect both of you, draw up a written contract that specifies 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.
  • A written outline of the yard’s daily routine.
  • A feeding chart that specifies portions and supplements.
  • Feeding and bedding stock.
  • First aid kit and toolkit.
  • All necessary keys and spares.

The full article appears in the December issue (117) of HQ magazine > Shop now