So you are planning a vacation without your horse. The first question that comes to mind is, WHY? Why would you do such a thing? Is it really a vacation if you aren’t packing up your rig and Fluffy the horse and heading cross-country to a clinic 1,000 miles away?
OK, I get it. Everyone needs some time away from the “kids”. And of course you have arranged for Fluffy to be fed, watered, and loved on a bit. What could go wrong?
Well…let me share with you the experience a friend had recently. This friend admires horses but has not spent time around them and is not comfortable or familiar with them. Nevertheless, some of her friends decided that she would be the ideal person to take care of their horse while they are away. They’ve made several trips and all went well. Until the last trip, when the horse came down with colic.
Now fortunately, my friend has spent enough time around the neighborhood horses that she did recognize that this was a problem. But guess what? a) She did not know the name of their veterinarian. b) When a veterinarian was tracked down, my friend did not know the age of the horse or any of its medical history. c) If the horse had needed to be transported, there was no way to make that happen. And the final insult, d), the veterinarian was not prepared to extend credit to the owners, and my friend, who has limited means, was forced to come up with payment for the treatment. And on top of all this, she is, of course, not comfortable with handling any horse, much less a sick one.
So there is the answer to “what could possibly go wrong?”. And in this case, the horse responded to treatment, it did not have to be transported, and the veterinarian was paid, so things could have been much worse.
So, when you leave town without Fluffy in tow, here are a few pointers:
-Get a qualified, experienced, reliable person to take care of your horse.
-Leave documents in the horse’s stable area noting the horse’s name, age, medical history, and who to contact in case of emergency. It’s a good idea to have this in the stable area ANYWAY as part of your emergency preparedness plan.
-Notify your veterinarian that you will be out of town and who will be tending your horse and how much authority they have to make decisions on your behalf.
-Make a payment arrangement in advance with your veterinarian–either they agree to extend credit, you leave them a deposit, or leave them with a credit card number.
-Make sure transportation is available for the horse. If you have a rig and the person tending the horse is qualified and comfortable with driving it, have it hooked up, fueled up, and pointing in the right direction. Otherwise, make arrangements in advance with someone who can provide transportation.
-Make sure your horse will load in the trailer!
-Leave your contact information. If you are truly going to be incommunicado, make sure the horse’s caregiver is capable of making tough decisions, or have a backup person available who is.
And once all this is done, NOW you may go on vacation!