The Equine Nanny

She may be called the Equine Nanny but Kathie Lacroix is not just a pleasant woman, who wafts in to read bedtime stories to little foals, and sing them songs about a spoonful of sugar helping medicine go  down!  She offers a service at Dressage competitions that goes far beyond that.

Thirteen years ago Kathie took some of her riding students to a dressage show. She asked at the show office who would be doing the night watch and was told “nobody does that”. Kathie’s previous experience with her students showing had been in the hunter jumper world and there would be someone who would check on the horses during the night. So she decided she would start a business offering that service at dressage shows.  I know I have been immensely grateful at shows during the winter in Florida, at the  Adequan Global Dressage Festival and also White Fences Equestrian, knowing that Kathie and her crew would be checking on my horse during the night.  I decided to ask her for an interview for Horse Addict. She agreed.

Tell me what is involved in your job as Equine Nanny?  For the people at the show who have signed up for my service I start at 9 pm and feed hay and make a chart for how much water may be needed later.  I have my son help with the watering later in the night and he will know from my chart which horses are going to need water. I also look at the  horses to see if they are settled.  The horses are checked every hour and on a chart on their door it is written down if they are standing, or lying down.  Around 2 am my son will top up the  water buckets and the amount is noted on the stall chart as well.  Around 5:30 I will feed hay and breakfast grain that the owner or rider has left out for the horse.  I like to be finished all the horses by 6 am, especially at a big show as people will start arriving and it is harder to get the job done. We usually do the night time checks in shifts  and in the morning I will do one last walk through to see if they have eaten their grain, have enough water and the stalls are all securely closed.

How many people do you have working with you? I have four people on my staff and  usually I will have one or two  working with me at each show.

How many horses are you checking each night? At a big show there may be 130 to 150 horses. A middle size show about 100 horses.

What do you charge for this service? For 11 years I charged $10 and now $15. I felt my assistant nannies deserved a little more money.

Tell me about some of the more difficult situations you have had to deal with in the middle of the night?  Sometimes there will be a horse with colic but one of the worst was a horse that got a foot caught in the board of the stall wall. He was panicking and thrashing and there was nothing I could do to help him. I can’t go into the stall and deal with a panicking 1200 pound animal. I called vets and the equine clinic. While I waited for them to come the  horse fell and, with his leg still caught, he finally laid still.  They had to put him onto a horse ambulance and get him to the clinic. He was in shock. But you know… a month later I was at a show and saw him and he  had completely recovered.

Another time in Illinois, at the Young Rider Championships,a mare who tended to kick got her leg caught in the bars between the stalls.  She got caught at the hock and could not get out. I called everyone, vets, the  owners and the fire department. The firefighters came and had to cut the metal bars to release the  leg. Then the vets stitched up her leg.

Has there ever been an amusing incident that  you remember?  Well yes…some horses like to have a companion perhaps a goat or a donkey but you can’t bring those animals to a show so people will put a stuffed animal into the stall to keep the horse company. One horse had a huge teddy bear and he decided he was going to massacre that bear. He tore it to shreds and scattered the pieces all over the stall!

Do you still go to shows in the northern states during the summer? I’m a single Mom and when my kids were younger I would leave them with their Grandma but now that they are older I’m not comfortable leaving them so I have stopped travelling.  I have had offers from other people to take my business north and do it for me but I don’t think anyone else would do this job as well as me and it’s the name of my business that’s at stake. I don’t want  to take the responsibility of sending nannies up north.  I want to be there myself.

Thank you Kathie for taking the  time to talk with me. I am certainly very grateful for the service you provide. It allows me to sleep at night during shows knowing my horse is being watched and looked after. 

IMG_20180331_1455512
Kathie Lacroix at the final CDI of the 2018 Adequan Global Dressage Festival. An appreciative client has given her a bottle of champagne! It is well deserved.

23 Comments Add yours

  1. Judy says:

    I hate to think what might have happened to those two horses if they’d been left alone all night. Bless her.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      It would have been a disaster! Horses are often unsettled at shows in unfamiliar surroundings and will do things ( kicking or pawing) they do not do at home. It was a blessing she was there for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Avery says:

    How great. Good for her for making it happen. A much needed service.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Emma Cownie says:

    Hmmmm…. That horse could clearly tell the difference between its flesh and blood companion and the ill-fated teddy bear!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      HaHa! Yes! He was angry about something for sure!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. docummins says:

    Reblogged this on Debby's Domain and commented:
    Once again, Anne, I am most impressed with the way you treat your horses as family. I wish this was something I’d thought about doing. Since I’m unable to ride, I couldn’t think of a better way to remain active with my friends (horses) and to meet new one’s!

    Debby

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you for the reblog and if you can find a way to be around horses even without riding I think it is beneficial.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. docummins says:

        Perhaps I can be a “groom” for a stable around here. I know of a new barn I can help!!!! Ooh, thank you for your suggestion! By the way-do you know the dates of the Tryon event and what stall you will be staying in?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. anne leueen says:

          WEG is in September and it takes place over a couple of weeks. If you go to the website http://www.tryon2018.com you can find the schedule of events. I have media accreditation so I will be in the media area that will be my “stall” for the days of the dressage competition.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. docummins says:

            Anne, I was only able to get tickets for Thurs 9/13, but I’ll be there! I don’t believe I’ll be able to come down to the stables to meet you unless you meet me someplace and take me back. Anyway, I’m praying that you’ll do well and hoping to meet you soon.

            Debby Cummins

            Like

          2. anne leueen says:

            Just to be clear…i am not competing at WEG. That is only for the highest levels of grand Prix professional riders. Also at this level of competition the FEI has the stables strictly quarantined for riders, coaches, grooms and vets only. No one else is allowed near the stabling areas. Even the warm up rings are off limits to the public. It has to be this way for the health and safety of horses who have come from all over the world to compete. I’m glad you were able to get a ticket even if it is only for one day. I think the 13th is the second day of the Grand Prix competition so you will see some top riders.

            Like

          3. docummins says:

            Oh, so I won’t be able to see you ride.

            Liked by 1 person

          4. anne leueen says:

            No those riders are a league waaaaay above me. I’m an amateur and i compete at the prix St George and Intermediare 1 level which is the level just below Grand Prix but the Grand Prix riders you will see are the world’s top including many who have represented their countries at the Olympics. You will be seeing some spectacular horses and riders!

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Very cool! She even looks like the perfect person for the job!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      She is; friendly, and calm under pressure!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I never would have thought this was a thing. Interesting. I can see where it would be nice to know someone is checking in on the horses during the night. $15 for all she does seems very very low!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      It is not expensive at all i think it is worthwhile if there are sufficient numbers of horses.

      Like

  7. Part of your FL horse tribe…really sweet interview. In addition to her ‘horse’ connection, what a resourceful business woman!
    🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Thanks a lot I didn’t know such profession or people existed… I thought that horses all alone at night and sleeping, silly me 🙃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      At home horses usually get a night check at 9pm or 10 and then are alone till breakfast at 6:30 or 7am. At shows they are in unfamiliar territory and not with their usual neighbours so it is nice to have someone checking on them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes of course… it should be done, but still I always thought they r alone by night. Thx for this interview and new lesson about horses 🐎;)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. anne leueen says:

          You are most welcome Ray.😃

          Liked by 1 person

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