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Not quite a boarding question, but couldn't find someplace more appropriate...Mods, feel free to move if you think there is a better place :)

With the holidays quickly approaching, I've been considering advertising myself for horse sitting specifically, as it was always a headache to find someone trustworthy + reliable when we kept our horses at home. I'm just racking my brain on how best to advertise the services I'd be willing to offer. So far, I'm thinking of just posting it in a FB horse group and on NextDoor, but I want to reach more people. I could make a free website, but I'm not sure how many people would search for a horse sitter through Google. Craigslist is also an option to advertise as well.

Where would you look for a horse sitter?

I know I'm fully capable and reliable, and I have references to back me up. I've cleaned stalls, turned out, and fed for a 20 stall barn previously, in addition to doing the same for a 4 horse barn. I've operated tractors and four-wheelers, I can drive manual, and of course I have reliable transportation to and from. I have experience in working in all sorts of weather conditions, and have never 'called-in' due to weather. I know how to handle difficult horses, and have experience being around biters/kickers/rearers. Most importantly of all, imo, I know how to identify colic and other illnesses, and I also carry a horse first-aid certificate.

And then there is the question of how much I should charge. Looking at local pet-sitters (that don't do horses), it is $20/30 minutes. Does that sound astronomical?

I would guess that 'average' horse sitting would be at least 1 hour per day if it was anything more than just feeding. In my previous job, it was 2 hours to care for 4 horses, but that included feeding, cleaning stalls, filling haybags for the week, distributing hay bags through the pasture, dumping manure, and doing miscellaneous tasks that needed to be done.

Would you be more likely to hire a house-sitter than does more than just care for your horses while away? Taking in the mail, watering plants, etc?

This is still just an idea, it's just tough trying to figure out exactly what I would want to do...hmm.
 

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I get horse sitting jobs by word of mouth. What I end up doing is horse, house, dog, cat, cattle, sheep, and fence/water sitting, though. Liking old tractors, and being able to drive them, and keep them going, is a plus where I live.

Depending on what's required I get $20-50/day. I reduce the rate for longer jobs. Usually setting a fixed amount before the owners leave. They always bring me a souvenir and I always leave baked goods.

A woman in my area started out placing adverts in local papers. It only took a couple months until she was very busy and stopped advertising.

Good luck. I enjoy it.
 

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Finding a horsesitter is a constant problem in my area, which is very horsey. There are very few boarding barns here with most people keeping horses at home, so when people go away they're not leaving their horses at a boarding place with someone to look after them. The best known horsesitters are so in demand they don't have room for new clients (I got on one lady's list 2.5 years ago when I moved here and she still can't fit me in! :eek:). All that to say, if you lived here, you'd be very busy.

When we travel, my preference is always a house sitter willing to stay here at the house to do horse chores but also take care of dogs, cat, and chickens. The cat is a senior who gets some medication, which seems really annoying to ask someone else to do. The horses get hard feed 2x daily and hay put out 4x daily, plus I ask for the poop to be picked and dumped at the back of the property. Chickens get let out at sunrise and fed/watered, then locked up at sunset. Dog gets at least 3 walks a day. So, it's a good bit of work. We leave good food and drinks in the fridge for the housesitter, and generally pay $75/day for it.

I have been lucky with a couple of great young women who I trust to get everything done, but sadly they've both moved away. We haven't traveled anywhere since the pandemic started and I don't see that happening again any time soon, so I haven't been too panicked. But when I knew I was losing the person I had most recently, I posted an in search of ad on a local Facebook page (not a horse-specific page, but since it's such a horsey area it worked) and I had 3 people come out to meet the menagerie and get a sense of whether or not I'd be comfortable with them staying in my house. Two of the three were a yes and if the pandemic hadn't happened I'd have definitely asked them to help us out. They both were comfortable with the $75/day rate.

As far as you wanting to advertise, I'd definitely put something out on the local horsey FB pages. I also asked my vet, farrier, and feed store for recommendations, but they didn't have anyone to recommend except the lady with the 2 year waiting list. If you can share your ad/rates with those kind of horsey professionals who are well connected, I'd expect you'll get referrals that way.


One other thought: if you're open to traveling a bit farther out from the metro area, you might have better luck. I live in a tiny town which is just outside of a more populated area. I think nothing of driving 30 minutes to go grocery shopping in the more populated area, but people from that area act like coming over to where I am is heading off to another planet. Several people I contacted who advertised as pet sitters told me they weren't willing to come "this far"- probably because they already have more work than they need in the more populated spot. It's been really frustrating for me.
 

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Facebook, and feedstore bulletin boards (with tear-off phone numbers WITH your name on the tag). Also word of mouth. When I was looking I asked around and the same name came up over and over so I went with her. You should decide if you are available to house/pet sit as well, or just show up twice a day to muck and feed. In my case my husband was home taking care of the dogs and chickens, and he also did the evening horse chores, so she just had to come in the mornings. She charged $30/day for that. She had an hour round trip commute, so I felt that was very fair. She also agreed to be 'on call' for horse advice for my husband who knows almost nothing about horses. He found that very reassuring.
 

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Your name needs learned to develop a business of home services.
If you know of any independent instructor/trainers who travel to clients this might be a place to ask for passing out of a resume' flyer...
People that provide personal private lessons at locations other than boarding barns with on-staff instructors might have a client list of those who travel and need....
Doesn't hurt to ask, to get a foot in the door and references maybe offer reduced or free night with 1 or 2 paid...

Other places would be look for a community bulletin board in local feed, tack shops, even the grocery store.
The local vet office for small animals as many who have small animals also have larger one such as horses and need assistance there too.
Local area riding clubs may know of or also pass out available for work literature.
We have a couple of local print media that pet-sitting services are in the classified section of people looking for and people supplying services of kind of like housecleaning companies for hire.

I would not want "kids" such as teens in charge of my animals or in my home, maybe not college age ...even that to me is chance of "party central" and when you are gone these people have free roam of your home.
You need to have a sense of peace walking out and leaving your animals and home vulnerable.
I would prefer to have someone that came by a reference of someone I know and trust than just anyone answering ads...

What about that group that links "craftsman" with those needing services such as Angie's list?
Angie's list is supposed to do the "vetting" of, aka background checks for you, that is what you pay for..
Pet sitting services are plentiful when you do a internet search...
:runninghorse2:...
 
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Discussion Starter #6
Your name needs learned to develop a business of home services.
If you know of any independent instructor/trainers who travel to clients this might be a place to ask for passing out of a resume' flyer...
People that provide personal private lessons at locations other than boarding barns with on-staff instructors might have a client list of those who travel and need....
Doesn't hurt to ask, to get a foot in the door and references maybe offer reduced or free night with 1 or 2 paid...

Other places would be look for a community bulletin board in local feed, tack shops, even the grocery store.
The local vet office for small animals as many who have small animals also have larger one such as horses and need assistance there too.
Local area riding clubs may know of or also pass out available for work literature.
We have a couple of local print media that pet-sitting services are in the classified section of people looking for and people supplying services of kind of like housecleaning companies for hire.

I would not want "kids" such as teens in charge of my animals or in my home, maybe not college age ...even that to me is chance of "party central" and when you are gone these people have free roam of your home.
You need to have a sense of peace walking out and leaving your animals and home vulnerable.
I would prefer to have someone that came by a reference of someone I know and trust than just anyone answering ads...

What about that group that links "craftsman" with those needing services such as Angie's list?
Angie's list is supposed to do the "vetting" of, aka background checks for you, that is what you pay for..
Pet sitting services are plentiful when you do a internet search...
:runninghorse2:...
It's looking like flyers on bulletin boards + online advertising will be the way to go - I am new to the area and have very few connections so far, but I do have references that I can use.

I am 23 - a college graduate, and I work full-time, remotely, during the day - hopefully that will be enough to convince others that I'm not just looking for a party house. As long as the potential client has Wi-Fi in their home and wanted in-home house-sitting, I would be working for 8-10 hours of the time that I would be in their home. I'm planning on advertising with Covid in mind, hopefully to add some credibility to my ad (wiping down surfaces before I leave, wearing a mask/gloves if requested, online payment, etc).

My only concern with Angie's List/Rover/House-sitting websites is that they take a portion of your pay, and I would rather handle advertising myself and finding clients than losing a portion of my pay.
 

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One other thought: if you're open to traveling a bit farther out from the metro area, you might have better luck. I live in a tiny town which is just outside of a more populated area. I think nothing of driving 30 minutes to go grocery shopping in the more populated area, but people from that area act like coming over to where I am is heading off to another planet. Several people I contacted who advertised as pet sitters told me they weren't willing to come "this far"- probably because they already have more work than they need in the more populated spot. It's been really frustrating for me.
It sounds like your experience finding trusted sitters is a lot like mine! My parents have had some awful luck with finding and keeping a house sitter, even with no longer having horses. My parents even have security cameras throughout their property (inside the barn, outside the barn, pointing towards the pasture and house), and even despite telling one of the house-sitters to absolutely NOT go into the barn or use the golf cart, BIG SURPRISE she got caught using their golf cart. Not sure she was thinking, or thinking at all...

Luckily, I'm used to driving a lot and would definitely be offering my services to those outside of the city I'm in - I honestly would be willing to drive an hour or two if someone was hiring for in-home house-sitting for an extended period of time. Too bad I don't live closer to you! :lol: 30 minutes isn't nothing, after you've driven 9 hours back and forth to college.
 

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<snip>
Pet sitting services are plentiful when you do a internet search...
:runninghorse2:...
Yes they are -- but farm sitters? Not so much. You need a far bigger skill set and a rarer one. It is definitely a seller's market.

If you have skills with other livestock -- sheep, goats, pigs, poultry, even cattle -- you will have a very marketable business. Many if not most people who have enough acreage for horses will have some other stock as well.
 

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@ClearDonkey I would hire you to horse-sit in a minute.

I was wondering, though, if you charged $20 for 30 minutes, would you then charge $40 for an hour, or would it be a little less, like $30 - $35. I guess if I were paying per hour I'd want to know how quickly you could muck out a dry lot, LOL. Because that's really the biggest thing my guys would need. Looking forward to having my horses on our property near Seattle, we'd be going out of town in the winter, when the horses would be on that dry lot full time. I hate to say it, but if it was going to take you, say, 1.5 hours, costing me $60 per day, I might just see if I could find a kid to do it instead. I super appreciate that you have a lot of experience and could check my horses over each day to make sure they looked OK, and that you have experience with difficult horses; but my guys have no bad attitude, are super easy, and don't even really need feed, so as awesome as all of your experience is, I'm not sure it would be worth it to me to pay you $40 an hour basically just to muck, toss them hay, and fill their water. For what you'd be charging, maybe I'd have you out at $20 for 30 minutes to just check on them and then have a random kid come and muck for $20 an hour or so.

Having said all of that, to answer your other question, I'd rather the person could also take care of other pets / animals / plants as needed.
 

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@ClearDonkey I would hire you to horse-sit in a minute.

I was wondering, though, if you charged $20 for 30 minutes, would you then charge $40 for an hour, or would it be a little less, like $30 - $35. I guess if I were paying per hour I'd want to know how quickly you could muck out a dry lot, LOL. Because that's really the biggest thing my guys would need. Looking forward to having my horses on our property near Seattle, we'd be going out of town in the winter, when the horses would be on that dry lot full time. I hate to say it, but if it was going to take you, say, 1.5 hours, costing me $60 per day, I might just see if I could find a kid to do it instead. I super appreciate that you have a lot of experience and could check my horses over each day to make sure they looked OK, and that you have experience with difficult horses; but my guys have no bad attitude, are super easy, and don't even really need feed, so as awesome as all of your experience is, I'm not sure it would be worth it to me to pay you $40 an hour basically just to muck, toss them hay, and fill their water. For what you'd be charging, maybe I'd have you out at $20 for 30 minutes to just check on them and then have a random kid come and muck for $20 an hour or so.

Having said all of that, to answer your other question, I'd rather the person could also take care of other pets / animals / plants as needed.
I am figuring that I will feel out pricing based off of location and time needed to complete tasks. Luckily, I'm super quick when it comes to scooping poop and doing other chores, and prefer to finish things quickly & correctly than diddledaddle.

Doing some research through Rover (dog-sitting app), the average overnight fee seems to be between $35-50 for dogs only. I think I would personally be happy charging a starting fee of something like $50/day for the "average" house with horses & pets, and adjusting for more horses/dogs/etc, or more household tasks. If I could average to around $15-20/hour of work, I would be happy.

I don't know how well a set price works with house-sitting/pet-sitting though, as time needed per animal can vary so greatly. If I were house-sitting only a cat, that is way different than house-sitting a high-energy, potty-training puppy. Maybe a set fee plus $5/each additional animal/day? I have no idea!

I paid $100 for 4 days of drop-in visits with only my kitten when I was away - and the pet-sitter (a high-schooler and his mom) thought that was overly generous and were only expecting $40 for the entire weekend...way too low in my opinion! I just want to make sure I know how much I'm worth, and ask accordingly.
 

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So far, the pricing I've brainstormed for my area is the following:

$20/hour for visits - so this would be for any # of animals and types of animals. I'm assuming the more # of animals, the longer time the visit would take, so I think my compensation would balance itself out on it's own.

$50/day for house-sitting - so this would NOT be overnight, and would be a starting price for 2 animals (cats/dogs) or 1 livestock animal. I think $5/additional horse or livestock/day, and then $3/additional dog or cat/day.

$75/day for overnight house-sitting - so this would be overnight, and would be a starting price for 2 animals (cats/dogs) or 1 livestock animal. I think $5/additional horse or livestock/day, and then $3/additional dog or cat/day.

I think the additional cost per animal will help balance out my compensation for longer time periods. So, if I were to hire myself to take care of my animals (dog, cat, 2 horses) overnight, I would be getting paid $85/overnight day. If I were to be hired by my parents during our peak pet phase (3 dogs, 2 cats, 4 horses) to take care of the animals overnight, that would be $104/overnight day.

I think that would be the standard pricing for a 15-mile radius (equal to 1.5-2 gallons of gas), with an additional mileage charge for the hourly visits (likely means more traveling/day) compared to the daily or overnight sitting.

And then I'm thinking additional $5/hour for holidays, $10/day for holidays, $25/day overnight for holidays for the 'typical' calendar holidays, though maybe I should pay them to get out of the bad family holidays :lol:

Is this all crazy? I figure there would be a extended time deal in there somehow, perhaps? And of course some sort of special pricing deal for those with larger set-ups, where there may just be a round bale.
 

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When we were in house mode for Covid I was paid $100 a week (5-7days) for one bird, 1 hour a day as instructions were he needed time either outside in his aviary or loose in the house plus water and food, swapping the paper out for clean. Under 10 miles from my home and this was once or twice a month as the owner traveled for work. Now my son covers that job. Easy money. Basically $20 an hour with two free days if a 7 day trip.

But for someone to come here what is charged exceeds what I need. Because of the horses it is between $50 to $65 a day no matter what the service. I'd be fine with that if they were doing chores or actually feeding, swapping pastures, putting hay out or picking poop and spending more than an hour or coming more than once a day. Only thing other than horses are chickens. And instructions are to water and feed only. No loose time. All I need is someone to check the water tank and make sure it stays full and do a head count, visual body check. No need for hands on. I put rounds out. I would have a neighbor feed any that need extra. It may be different now that I don't have stallions but friends have said they see the same charge no matter the number with geldings and mares. At this point my husband doesn't travel anymore so he takes care of things. I had at one point had a friend house sit to save boarding fees for the dogs but ended up with two extra horses from house sitting occasions. I've also had one from deer tearing fence and one from a MIL that was too interested in watching the horses "play". If I ever breed again it will likely be AI or have a totally different set up. The likelihood though is I won't own another stallion unless my son gets more interested in that end of the business.
 

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When I leave for vacation, my barn helper comes out 2X/day and cares for 6 horses, 60-75 chickens, 2 dogs and varying number of feral barn cats. She feeds everybody, cleans stalls, chicken coop as needed, and puts the dogs in their crates for overnight. For that I pay $45/day.
 

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When I leave for vacation, my barn helper comes out 2X/day and cares for 6 horses, 60-75 chickens, 2 dogs and varying number of feral barn cats. She feeds everybody, cleans stalls, chicken coop as needed, and puts the dogs in their crates for overnight. For that I pay $45/day.
How many hours do these chores take to complete, if you were to estimate?
 

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She lives less than 10 mins from me, so 10 X 2/day = 20 min travel/day.
She picks out 6 stalls at 10 mins/stall (not stripping, just picking good) = 60 mins
Feed & water for 6 horses, 60 chickens, 2 dogs and 1 cat = 60 mins
Blanket or unblanket as needed = 30 mins

So, roughly adds up to about 3 hrs/day.
 

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It seems you've got plentiful advice but I wanted to add a few thoughts.

I have never once in my life advertised for pet sitting services. It started when a previous employer asked me if I do and I said sure, why not? Then word of mouth followed from there. What I'm saying is you don't need to put too much energy into advertising as you might soon find yourself very overwhelmed with the amount of people requesting your services, especially around the holidays!

The other thing - Money. I don't have set prices as I adjust per customer and their needs. I only do overnight house sitting since I have found visiting twice daily becomes very exhausting very fast unless the person lives right down the road. I have been paid $100 per day for two toy poodles, and that is what the person offered to me. I cannot emphasize enough - Do not lowball yourself!! If someone is clueless as to what they're able to pay, I usually go by $50 for the initial pet per day and another $20-30 per additional pet. People WILL pay! And keep in mind, what I'm doing is indoor, dump some food and water in the bowls, maybe check the mail if they ask. NOT barn chores - and you can imagine if people willingly pay $50 per toy poodle per day, they will certainly pay much more than that for a skilled horse person to haul their butt out to the barn on a cold night, carrying water buckets and shoveling poop over a holiday break!

In summary, don't underestimate your services. This is what I've gotten for small animals requiring minimum care with no advertising, you should be getting a lot more if you do actively advertise and you serve farm animals, especially around the holidays! Of course, your region of the US could be drastically different than mine, but I wouldn't sell yourself short only charging an extra few dollars per additional pet... No way.
 

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Using the $50 per day for first animal + $20 for each additional animal, it would cost me $390.00 per day to go on vacation and that's not counting the cost of the vacation itself.

What I would expect the sitter to do would be to show up once a day feed 2 minis and give them plenty of hay. Check and fill 3 water tanks as needed. Look over the 2 minis + the 7 full sizers to make sure there are no catastrophic injuries (there are always little dings and scratches) or illnesses. They (the 7 full sized horses) will have pasture & round bales so although I give them a little dribble of oats on a daily basis I wouldn't have someone else mess with it. Fill cat food bowls for the 9 barn cats and fill their water bucket as needed. That's it, the dog would be with me and I wouldn't be able to see paying $390.00 dollars for less than an hours worth of work. I think any person going into farm sitting would be better off charging by what the job entails versus per animal.
 

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Big difference between what Fido's mom will pay and say Fluffy's (depending as some cat owners are slavish to the amount of attention they want the cats to have). (Exotic)Bird owners tend to pay more if they expect the birds to have out time. Add in farm animals and that premium pay drops. Too many animals and most owners make plans for ease of care and to lessen amount of time to necessities. There are always those that don't fall in the generalities though.
 
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