Holiday Preparations

We’re going on holiday this weekend, so the blog will probably be a bit quiet next week, but it’s amazing how much preparation and how long you spend getting the pets and animals ready for their carers. Probably more time than you spend packing!

With the cats, it’s making sure there’s enough cat food and litter. Is it all stored in the same place and easy to find, or will the food fall out the cupboard as the door is opened. Has the cat sitter been round to see where everything is? Have you made a note of feed rations, with contact numbers in case of emergency. Is the cat basket out the loft for such an emergency? Has anything in the house been left so it can be knocked over, or should that clean shirt be left there in case it becomes their bed for the week? It’s fairly straightforward, really, well except when they try to pack themselves!

But the to-do list with horses is far longer. So I thought I’d compile a list for anyone else planning a holiday.

  • Who’s in charge? Have they been briefed and introduced to your horse?
  • Is everything written down clearly for them?
  • Emergency contacts – vet, farrier, you, a back up number for you. Just in case.
  • Do they know where your first aid box is and any usual treatments you follow: e.g. He often gets a runny eye so a used, cooled tea bag is put over to reduce the swelling.
  • Hard feeds: depending on how long you’re away for, or how complicated the bucket feed is, you may choose to make up each feed into a plastic bag. In which case, you need to set time aside to do it, have somewhere dry to store them, and possibly do an extra feed or two in case you get delayed.
  • Haynets. Again, you may want to fill a few days worth, to ease your horse-sitter’s workload, so time and storage need to be allocated. Otherwise you need to ensure there’s enough hay: either bought in or in your allocated area.
  • Stable. This depends totally on the time of year, but I like to have the stable ready in case of an emergency even if my horse is living out at that time. In the winter, it’s considerate to do a very thorough muck out the day before you leave, putting in sufficient fresh bedding, and making sure there is plenty available for the horse-sitter.
  • Rugs. This is always a nightmare! During the summer and winter the weather is usually stabilised, so you can leave the horse with their usual rug, and leave an alternative in case the weather changes drastically. However, autumn and spring are harder to forecast. The weather changes on an hourly basis, and whatever rug you put on will be wrong by someone – be it the weather gods sending blazing sunshine instead of the forecast heavy rain, or the over ruggers telling you you need a thicker rug, or the under ruggers telling you your horse will be too hot. Try to pick a horse sitter who knows how you rug, and understands if your horse tends to run warm or if his arthritic hocks need a bit of warmth to prevent him seizing up.
  • Tidy up. This sounds silly, but I like to put all my things away tidily before going away, so nothing goes walkabouts, and it’s much preferable arriving home to an organised grooming kit, tack or feed room. It’s a bit anal, but that’s why I was outside tidying up the garden tonight and will clean the house tomorrow!

So yes, there always seems to be so much to organise for horses when you go away, and then you also have the inevitable unknown factor that horses are famous for. For Mum, it was Matt fracturing his stifle three days before she went on holiday. For another friend who’s going travelling in a months time, her mare has decided to do a tendon. Even the best laid plans have to be rapidly rethought in these sorts of situations, and it’s when you appreciate the network of support around you. Once you manage to get away, you can sit back and relax … well, after your daily equine update of course!

Things Grown Ups Don’t Tell You

When you’re a kid going on holiday means pulling out the suitcase, finding an old, crusty sock from last holidays, and packing your clothes. I remember my brother, aged seven, packing his case to go and stay with Granny for a week … He’d packed one tshirt, three pairs of shorts, and two socks!

Anyway, we’re going on holiday for a fortnight from this weekend – apologies in advance for a quiet blog – and I’ve suddenly realised there’s a lot more to going on holiday as an adult than I thought …

  • Who is going to feed the cat? Now Princess Penny is quite spoilt unfortunately, and needs feeding twice a day, and the cat flap locked overnight. Two weeks of feeding twice a day is a big ask, so I rounded up a handful of volunteers and created a rota. Then of course we had to make sure there’s enough cat food, cat litter, treats …  

 

  • Who’s going to look after Otis? The answer is obvious – his chauffeur. But with Otis’s recent foot problems his chauffeur needs prepping; and the first aid kit restocked. Plus the fact that strangles is rife at the moment, he needs briefing on the symptoms and protocol. Again, I had to stock up on feed, and get the rugs out that may be needed – it could be medium weight, light weight, or fly rug weather over the next fortnight.

 

  • The lawn needs mowing. It was done on Easter weekend, and we won’t have time to do it before we go, so it’s going to be a jungle when we get back. And we’re not mowing it straight away after our holiday after a friend did the same and mowed over his flip-flopped toes, causing a dash to hospital. So I did some gardening last weekend.
  • A fortnight is a long time for the houseplants, so someone needs to water them. Then of course are the flowers in the garden. There are a few new ones, and some pots so hopefully we don’t have a drought or frost so they survive…
  • Make sure the neighbours know we’re away and will put the bins out.
  • Will all the parcels arrive in time? Or more to the point, don’t order anything online the week before you go away!
  • Are any bills due? If there are direct debits will they go through alright?
  • Money needs to be exchanged so we have spending money on holiday.
  • Run food stocks low. But not too low as you need food when you arrive home. But you don’t want to come home to a fridge full of mouldy carrots.
  • Unplug appliances. A family I know recently had a devastating house fire, so I will be making sure everything except the fridge is unplugged.
  • Make sure you’ve done the washing. You don’t want a pile of smelly clothes hanging  around, and you need to have clothes to wear when you get home! Never leave clothes in the washing machine damp either …
  • Most importantly – packing bags without packing the kitchen sink!

I’ll be glad to get on the plane!