Noble Life

Ring in Spring With A Clean Barn

Warmer weather means longer days, shorter equine coats and loads of leftover winter dirt.

The first hint of warmer weather has most horse people itching to take off horse blankets and hop in the saddle. While riding is a wonderful part of horse ownership, there’s lot of other work involved and it is just as rewarding!

Take some time this spring to deep clean your barn, ensuring that you and your equine friends stay safe and happy when riding time ramps up.

Spring To-Do List:

  • Heated Buckets: Clean heated buckets thoroughly and inspect cords for wear and tear. If you find no damage, roll cords and secure them to the handle, then store upside down to prevent dirt and debris from getting inside.
  • Tank Heaters: Remove the stock tank heater (if you used one this winter) and descale. Also check this piece of equipment for any damage from curious teeth. If you find a break in the cord covering, throw the heater away and purchase a new one instead of trying to repair the cord yourself with electrical tape. Many barn fires are caused by electrical cords that have been damaged.
  • Extension Cords: Roll and store any extension cords that won’t be used for fans, carefully examining them while doing so to ensure there are no splits or breaks, and that the prongs of the plug are secure.
  • Check for Damage: Check stall walls and doors for damage. Cooped up horses with energy to burn can be hard on the walls and door that contain them. Check all s
    • Inspect your barn for rodent damage. This includes checking the wiring to all lights and switches, as well as scouring floors to be sure nothing has burrowed underneath surfaces for damage, loose boards or nails, and repair them as needed.
  • Level: Level floors in stalls and aisle ways if they’re not concrete or asphalt. While this can be a difficult and strenuous job, it’s necessary to take care of this task in a timely manner so the holes don’t get so large that they trap water and manure, making cleaning a hassle.
  • Wash: Pressure wash the outside of the barn and as many stalls as possible, being careful not to get so close you blow off the coats of paint. It’s amazing what simply washing off the dirt on the outside of a barn will do!
  • Hay really is for horses: Clean out the hayloft or hay storage building. Most hay storage areas get a little messy after a long winter of tossing hay into “good,” “bad” and “questionable” piles, but it’s essential to clean out the loft or storage area completely before the first cutting of new hay comes in. If you store your hay on pallets, remove the bales and clean out all the loose hay that has fallen underneath them, tossing the old hay on the muck pile—it’s most likely too dusty to be palatable to your horse. If you store your hay in a loft, move all unused hay to one end, sweep the floor completely, then restack the bales neatly and switch to the other side of the loft. This not only ensures that you’ve rid your loft of all moldy, old hay, you can also get an accurate count of how much you hay you have left so you’ll know how much to put up or buy for the following winter.
  • Feed Room: Clean out the feed room, tossing expired supplements and congealed liquids. Make sure all old feed bags are off the floor and thrown away so they’re not prime nesting material for rodents. Sweep up any spilled feed and make sure feed is secured in chew-proof containers.
  • De-Spider: Decobweb the barn. This chore is easiest to do this when curious, “helpful” equines aren’t in stalls, and after you’ve cleaned the hayloft, should you have one. Not only are cobwebs unsightly, they’re extremely flammable.
  • Compost: Manage your manure pile. For some, this means having it hauled away as soon as the ground firms up; for others, it means turning the pile for compost or offering it to local gardening centers or home gardeners.
  • Shine it: Deep clean tack. It’s easy to want to avoid frosty fingers in the winter by minimally cleaning bridles (or not cleaning them at all). Now is the time to take all leather piece apart and really scrub them, cleaning away months of dirt, debris and horse hair. Once tack is clean, condition it well to help prevent mold as weather warms.While you’re at it, look closely at the stitching on every piece you clean. Is it worn or frayed? If so, either mark the piece for repair or make a note to by a new one, depending on how extensive the damage.
While you clean your tack, wiping away dirt and grime leftover from winter, inspect the stitching on all pieces to be sure it’s not frayed to the point of breaking.

While you clean your tack, wiping away dirt and grime leftover from winter, inspect the stitching on all pieces to be sure it’s not frayed to the point of breaking.

  • Tack Trunk: Clean out your tack trunk. When you’re really looking forward to a hot shower after a cold ride, it’s easy to toss everything in one big pile in your tack trunk or locker. Take the time to remove everything from your tack trunk and thoroughly clean the inside, scrubbing at spilled ointments and removing old containers. Put everything back in neatly once you’ve wiped it down. If you come across items you haven’t used in ages, that doesn’t fit you or your horse, or that you have duplicates of, consider donating them to an equine organization in need.
  • First Aid: Go through your first aid kit, tossing out any expired products, including liquids and pastes. Make a note of what you’ve tossed and be sure to restock when your vet comes to administer spring shots. As you replenish prescription items, also be sure you have sufficient amounts of commonly used items like elastic wrap, wound ointment, pillow wraps and bandages on hand. It can be helpful to make a checklist where you can denote what you’ve used and need to replace so that you’re prepared for the next emergency.
  • Blankets: Clean and repair blankets once the warmer weather has come to stay. If you have horse blanket-friendly Laundromats near you, purchase a blanket-safe wash and bring your stash to the store. If your muddy blankets aren’t welcome, locate a business that washes and repairs blankets, writing down which blankets needs repairs and what they are. Also make note of which ones might need waterproofed; most blankets don’t need this done every year.
Many horses were hard on their blankets over the winter. Spring clean your horse’s clothes by washing and repairing any issues.

Many horses were hard on their blankets over the winter. Spring clean your horse’s clothes by washing and repairing any issues.

  • Take Room: Clean out and reorganize the tack room. If your barn has a community tack room, no doubt it’s become a bit of a jumbled mess as lessoners, boarders and their guests have come in and out all winter long. Take time to move everything from one side of the tack room (or completely empty it, if possible), and thoroughly clean the walls, hooks and floor before moving on to the other side. Consider adding more shelves to help corral the clutter.
  • Brushes: Clean brushes in a mix of soapy water and leave them in the sun to dry. Brushes that have trapped dust, dirt and hair won’t do the best job cleaning your muddy steed. Soak them for 20 to 30 minutes in the soapy mixture to ensure all  bristles are clean, then lay them in the sun to dry.
Clean brushes in a mix of soapy water to get out winter dirt and debris.

Clean brushes in a mix of soapy water to get out winter dirt and debris.

  • Bandages: Clean leg bandages and wraps, making sure to roll them and place them with their mate for easy location later.

There you have it! Better to be clean, than dirty 😉 Did we forget something? Tell us in the comments below!


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The Author:

Sarah Coleman grew up riding any horse she could find; she competed on both the western and hunt seat teams at Ohio University, where she graduated from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and was a member of the 2002 IHSA National Championship Hunt Seat team. She has since settled into the hunters and is now based in Lexington, KY, where she competes her OTTBs Bayou Brass and Chisholm. She is the director of Education and Development for New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, as well as the secretary and treasurer for the Kentucky Hunter Jumper Association.

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