Our horses become our close partners, but holiday travel might mean that you'll be out of town for a long period of time. If your horse needs to be ridden or worked while you are gone, generally you can find a talented rider to step up and ride your horse. But before you sign up any rider for the job, there are a number of considerations that you need to be aware of.
Are You Insured?
First and foremost, make sure that you are insured for any liability you could incur if a rider is injured while working your horse. If your horse lives in your own barn, do not just assume that your homeowner's insurance will cover you; while some homeowner's policies do cover equine liability, others do not. If you're unsure, call your insurance agent and ask specifically about the situation. If your homeowner's policy does not cover you, then many equine insurance companies offer personal equine liability policies for this exact reason.
What Is Your Horse Like to Ride?
Some horses are more difficult rides than others, and if your horse is highly trained or reactive, he may need a rider with a special touch. Have multiple riders recently ridden your horse, or have you been the only person to ride him in the past few years? Your horse's training level, character, and individual quirks will all factor in to the type of rider who could safely take on the job.
Is the Rider Experienced Enough?
In conjunction with your horse's training level and riding habits, you need to look at how experienced a rider is. Can he or she safely handle your horse at his worst behavior? What are the rider's schooling methods like? If you ride with a light hand, you will want to find a rider whose methods are similar. If a firm correction could upset or even set back your horse's training, then be sure that the rider you enlist understands that and has a quiet, gentle method of schooling.
Have the Rider and Horse Met?
A rider could sound like the perfect match for your horse on paper, but actually working with your horse can reveal an entirely different truth. Give the horse and rider time to meet and progress through a few "test rides" which you supervise. You will quickly be able to tell whether the horse and rider are a good match, and the test rides will give you time to familiarize the rider with your horse's quirks and training methods.
If at all possible, try to arrange so that the rider is working your horse while there is another person on the property who can step in if a situation should turn dangerous. Always check references on a rider you're unfamiliar with, and have them sign a release before working with your horse.
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