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Ideas for leaving (non-horsey) husband home alone with the horses for a week

As I was doing chores and fluffing up the stall and filling the nets and soaking the cubes this morning it occurred to me… next Friday I’m taking my kids to the cottage for a week and he’s staying home. Normally we all go and I hire a farm-sitter, but this year it’s just him.

So I can pre-fill all the hay nets, that’s fine. They can live without their soaked cubes for a week, and just get their pelleted feed twice a day. And they can even live in the dry lot for the week so he doesn’t have to lead them back and forth to the pasture, which will be nice to give the pasture a break anyway (it’s not very big).

But their run in. I bed with (steamed, dust-extracted, bagged like shavings) straw. My gelding ONLY pees in the run-in (it’s matted, gravel underneath but the urine pools in one spot as it needs to be relevelled). My DH is never in a million years going to pick up a fork and clean that stall. It just won’t happen. But I won’t be able to relax thinking they’re living in squalor for a week.

So do I tell him to just keep piling in the bedding and hope it soaks it all up? Should I get some pelleted bedding and make a base layer under the straw, and that will soak it all up, and he can add straw on top?

I’m already steeling myself for the marathon session of mucking that will be there when I get home.

Any suggestions welcome. Assume that hiring it done is not an option, and assume that he really IS as non-horsey as I say he is. Like I’m going to have to give him a crash course in haltering before I leave just in case he needs to handle them.

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Hire someone. It doesn’t need to be someone to do everything but have someone come daily to do the things he can’t, and lay eyeballs on the horses. Non horsey husbands can easily miss urgent veterinary matters.


This sounds like it will work best.
I have friends who bed their run-in for 3 pasture-kept horses with straw. They use Deep Litter method, pitchfork obvious piles of manure out & toss more straw on top.
Once a year, tractor drags out the mess to burn & they start over.
So, after a week your shelter will be bad, you’ll have a mess to contend with, but horses will be fine.

When I’m away, I tell farmsitter to just fork out piles from stalls & toss into the drylot behind them.
But I agree to find someone who knows horses to drop by & put eyes on them at least once. Mostly so you can relax, or be proactive if something seems NQR. Maybe your usual farmsitter?
Just saw your reply.
Maybe a horseowning friend?
& If your horses choose to nap in the mess :woman_shrugging:


I’m not worried about that at all. The vet is very local and they went to high school together, DH can call the emergency vet as well as anyone can.

There just is no one to hire. The normal farm sitter isn’t available and there are no local people to do it. It’s DH or nothing.

ETA - ok, I won’t say I’m not worried at all but it’s not my main concern. Sleeping in a urine soaked run-in for their morning snooze is my main concern :smiley:

If there really is absolutely nobody to hire, this would be my next choice.


I’ve done deep litter for a week at a time before, and while maybe not the cleanliest/most ideal, they’ll survive. I agree, put some very absorbent bedding under the straw, and just have him add a little bit of straw on top every day or every other day. We all can get a little obsessive about our horses’ routines and way we do things, but they won’t be hurt by having slightly less than ideal conditions for just a week :wink:


When I leave my non horsey husband home alone, I made a book of what each horse should look like and what I want him to do with pictures daily.

For the run in I did a mix of pellets and fine shavings, I bedded deep enough that they wouldn’t be laying in pee and took the hit cleaning it out at the end of the long weekend.

I pre-filled hay bags and put them out, put food in plastic containers with names, then prayed.

I made him send me pictures 2x a day and pictures of their water 1x a day after he filled it.

They survived just fine.


Great suggestions so far-- I’d definitely go with the “deep litter” for the week. They’ll live! They might need baths if they wallow like my old gelding, but they’ll be fine.

My DH refuses to follow my cleaning instructions (yeah…I don’t leave him in charge of the horses if I can absolutely manage it another way.) and gets huffy if I try to instruct him (I’m a freaking teacher and so is he-- you’d think we’d do this better!). I am freaking out a year in advance of going to Europe next summer. So reading these responses helps a bit.


This. I was just gone for a week for work, and I hired someone to come for evening feeding to be sure my PPID mare got her pill in her feed and actually ate it. The farm sitter picked the sheds.

My lovely husband has a good way with the horses and is capable of feeding, but it’s nice to have eyes from an experienced horse person on them once a day. And, I found that even once-a-day help really went a long way in reducing stress and resentment from lovely husband. He’s a morning person, so going out to feed as the sun came up is actually kind of fun for him. But trying to fit in evening feeding as he is wrapping up his work day (he works from home) is really stressful. So this solution worked really well for us.


It’s not about getting the vet out. It’s about noticing that something is wrong. I take this for granted, too…I mean, I have my eyes on every horse I see, ever, looking at legs and assessing how they’re standing and just a general “is this horse okay” scan. It’s not something we’re even aware we’re doing. Non horsey husbands don’t have that installed.

I’d really find someone–anyone–with horse experience to at least look at them a couple few times. If the vet is that good a friend, have your husband have him over for a beer a couple times while you’re gone.

Or get your husband on video chat every day and walk through the herd.

@luvmyhackney’s book is also a great idea. Along with a checklist of “look at these parts of the horse, this is normal, and this is not.”

I say all this because my non horsey (but significantly more horsey than yours) husband missed seeing something, and that eventually led to the death of that horse. I made assumptions about his ability to really look, as you are here. It ended poorly.


I’m really sorry to hear that :frowning:

This is why I hate travelling. Between the horses and my garden (it’s as much my baby as the horses) it’s so stressful.

I like the video idea.

I lost a horse once similarly. An in-law was doing chores for us over a long weekend. I had the vets number posted prominently, they had my credit card on file and were ready if he called… he just didn’t call. And he did have horse experience. Her death would have happened had I been home or not, it wasn’t something preventable, but still.


I purchased this book as a guide to help my husband as well. It covers basic stuff and is extremely detailed and explained beautifully.


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What would he do if you suddenly died today?

I think about this every day as I try without success to entice my SO to learn the barn routine.


install WiFi cameras in the barn that you can access through the internet, we have cameras in each stall and around the barns so we can check on the goings on without disturbing them

The cameras really have become the first thing to view when ever there is any thought of a problem such as we can see the level of water in their buckets


Back in my days boarding at a partial self-care place, one of my horses was quite aged (very late 20s). What I did when my husband and I went overseas was to call my longtime vet (whose clinic was only a couple miles away), and hire one of his techs to stop by on his way to and from working at the clinic.

The guy didn’t do any real chores (arranged for a fellow boarder to help me out), just put educated eyes on the old man. Another time, when an out-of-town emergency came up, I called the same guy to hire him again, and he volunteered to swing by the barn – wouldn’t take any money. Said it was no trouble, and that he liked my horse (who had excellent manners, and was always a favorite at boarding barns).

Only mentioning this because the vet was described as being very local. If as local as my vet was, perhaps this is an option.


You may be surprised how he does. I left my very non-horsey husband in charge for about 5 days when one of my horses needed eye ointment 3x a day. He did great. We talked every day and I asked questions about the horses and that was sufficient to know if anything was going on.

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I sure wish I knew how to quote, but this is actually great idea. There are 3 or 4 vet clinics I have current or former relationships with. Only one does horses, but a tech might actually drive by our place and might be able to do that.

Also, I just thought of a friend who might be more then happy to come check on his old horse. I have no idea why I didn’t think of him right off the bat.

Thanks all!


The first year I was married I flew back to CA to help my parents move ( and visit my friends!!) while my husband stayed home because he only had 6 months at his new job, so no time off yet.

That left him in the role of feed and caretaker of my 2 horses and our 2 dogs and cats. He can drive a trailer like a pro but the feeding and all animal care is 100% my domain.

I showed him my routine and how it is done and wrote everything down step by step. I was gone at least a week and came home to happy, healthy critters.


Take the horses to the cottage and leave the kids with the SO? :wink:


Better… send HIM to the cottage with the kids and I stay home in paradise. I dread this cottage trip every year. It’s just not relaxing when you have to work for 2 weeks before you go to make sure the farm is set up for the sitter, the garden won’t die while I’m away and the house isn’t a disaster, and then have to work 2 weeks when you get home to re-establish order. All for one theoretically relaxing week at a lake, when we live 30 minutes from 2 Great Lakes :smiley:

But we grew up going to this area to a cottage, my sister loves it more then life itself and my kids do too, so whaddya do.

Next year we’re planning two weeks on the east coast. More then a year away and I’m already dreading it, but I’ve already booked the farm sitter.