Monday, January 18, 2010

Emergency Instructions for My Horses

In just under 3 weeks we are planning on heading south to our condo in Puerto Vallarta for a few weeks of vacation in the sun. I’ve been busy lining things up and planning what to pack. A very important part of my planning is the care of my animals. It isn’t just a case of who will feed them, but what should the people in charge do in case of an emergency.

My neighbor will be in charge of the horses I have here at the house; he knows how to run the tractor to put out the round hay bales, he’ll check on the horses daily and make sure the automatic waterer keeps working. He’s familiar with horses and knows how to handle them, knows who to call if the waterer quits working and has the name and phone number of our veterinarian.

Two more of my horses are boarded at a barn not far away. I don’t worry about their care as they are wonderfully looked after, but my vet’s number is also handy for them to have.

But I will be out of the country and won't be easy to get hold of in case of an emergency. What then? I need to leave a list of instructions so that it is totally clear as to what I would like done in case of an emergency. I have left my friend, Max, in charge of all decisions, but I have given her a list of my preferences for each horse. I’ve had to make some hard choices about what I would like done, and how much money should be spent for each horse. I have an old, retired horse with arthritis, one with a life-limiting health problem, one who is a great riding horse but needs an expensive drug each riding season, and 2 more horses that are wonderful riding horses and have many years left in them.

So with each person who has the care of my horses I have left a list of the following: vet’s name and number; Max’s name and number; and each horse’s information (name, age, sex and health conditions). With my vet, with Max, and with the owner of the barn where I have two of my horses, I have left instructions as to what I would like done and how much money should be spent in the case of an emergency. It is also important that I line up with everyone how the bills should be paid until I arrive home.

And last, but not least, what if the unthinkable happens – we have an accident and don’t ever arrive home? I would like to know that all of my animals, including the dog and barn cat, are taken care of, that they go to good homes. In that case, I have a letter describing what I would like done with each of them, signed and put in with our wills. It isn’t a pleasant thought, but I wouldn’t want them just hauled off to an auction.

*Addendum: read more about why it's a good idea to have this type of plan laid out before vacation here.

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