Your horse barn is your happy place. It’s where you go to spend time with your best friend and escape from the daily stress of life. Sure, it can be dirty, and your visits usually involve some kind of work, but it’s a place where you can follow your passion.
As much as you love spending time with your horse, it’s all too easy to let routine barn maintenance slide. We tend to collect unnecessary tools, hoard worn-out objects, and even purchase supplies we don’t really need. It’s time to take a good look at your barn and make sure you don’t have any of these unnecessary and even dangerous things.
1. Uncovered Concrete Floor in Stalls
Concrete floors are easy to clean, but they’re too hard for your horse’s hooves. If your barn has concrete flooring in the stalls, it’s best to invest in durable livestock mats to protect your horse’s hoof health.
2. Worn-out Flooring
Speaking of flooring, you should pay attention to what you’re walking on. Old floors can be dangerous for both you and your horses. Make sure your barn floor doesn’t have splinters or old nails sticking out of it. If the floor is eroded or seriously worn-out, it’s time to think about replacing it.
3. Burnt-out Light Bulbs
Keeping a horse barn well lit can be a challenge, but it’s important. You might be able to forget about burnt-out light bulbs when natural sunshine lights your way, but you need to be prepared for emergencies. The last thing you want is to be fumbling around in the dark because you’ve neglected to change a few light bulbs.
4. Overloaded Power strips
Electrical outlets can be few and far between in a lot of horse barns. Power strips can be the solution to that problem, but they can also be a safety hazard. Never overload a power strip.
5. Broken Electrical Cords
While you’re passing judgement on your power strip, take a look at your electrical cords. Cords can become worn-out quickly when they’re being used in a horse barn. If a cord has exposed wires, it’s time to throw it out.
6. Ripped Fly Masks
Fly masks don’t last forever. They’re bound to rip, and when they do, there’s usually no saving them. You might be able to mend a small tear, but it’s usually not worth it. If you have a stash of ripped fly masks taking up room in your barn, pull the trigger and just throw them out.
7. Expired Medications
It’s okay to keep medications for short amounts of time, but pay attention to expiration dates. You don’t want to risk your horse’s health by administering expired medications. Clean out your medications on a regular basis so you always know what you have on hand.
8. Open Feed Containers
Open feed containers do nothing but let feed go stale, invite rodents to a free buffet, and waste your money. Invest in durable (preferably metal) closed-lid feed containers and repurpose those other bins for something else.
9. Dirty Brushes
Grooming your horse with dirty equipment is counterproductive. It can spread skin problems from horse to horse and prevent your horse from looking its best. It’s good practice to clean grooming supplies at least once a week.
10. Toxic Rodent Bait or Pesticides
Mice, rats, fleas, flies, and other pests are a constant struggle for every horse barn. There are steps you can take to keep them at bay, but never resort to toxic baits or pesticides. Certain chemical products are harmful to horses and to other animals, including dogs and barn cats. Look for animal-safe ways to deal with pests.
11. Manure Piles
If you’re a horse owner, you know manure is a part of life. Leaving piles of the stinky stuff in your horse barn, however, is not a good idea. Not only does it smell, it attracts flies. Establish a nearby dumping area where you can take your manure. Never leave it piled up in corners or in wheelbarrows.
12. Saddles Stored on Their Sides
Saddles are expensive, and you’ll do yourself a favor by taking care of them. Storing a saddle on its side will cause it to stretch and change shape. That, in turn, will be bad for your horse’s back. Invest in a saddle stand to protect your horse and your bank account.
13. Worn-out Bell Boots
Once your bell boots start to wear out, it’s best to toss them. Keeping them around and continuing to use them could end up hurting your horse.
15. Moldy Hay
Moldy hay can cause a long list of health emergencies in horses. As painful as it is to throw out entire bales of hay, keeping it around isn’t worth the risk.
14. High Hay Stacks
Buying hay in bulk is a great way to save money, but think about storage space before you go too crazy. When stacking hay bales, you don’t want them to get too high. Not only will this make it harder to get them down, it could also lead to a dangerous situation.
16. Broken Rakes, Shovels, and Pitchforks
Don’t let your horse barn turn into the land of misfit tools. Sure, you might be able to replace a splintered rake handle, but are you really going to? Don’t let broken equipment sit in your barn and take up space. If it’s been broken for a few weeks, and you haven’t taken steps to fix it, get rid of it.
17. Splintered Wood
Splinters easily get infected, and they can happen to both horses and humans. While you’re going through your regular chores, take notice of any areas with splintered wood. It could be the floor, wall, or gate. If you notice any rough areas, either replace the wood or sand it down.
18. Torn Blankets
Unfortunately, blankets aren’t indestructible. They get caught on fence posts, worn down by time, and every now and then, an ornery horse will put one between its teeth. If you have a pile of old, useless blankets heaped in the corner of your barn, make the move to get rid of them. Your barn will be cleaner and less cluttered without them.
19. Broken Tack
While you’re getting rid of torn blankets, take inventory of your tack. All horse owners seem to have a habit of hoarding old, useless tack. Broken bridles, stirrups, and bits are not worth keeping around. Clear up space and organize your barn by getting rid of that stuff.
20. Piles of Twine
No one needs a mountain of recycled twine. Keep a few strands for random uses, but don’t let it litter the floor or take up too much space.
Make sure you have a secure trash bin in your horse barn. Without one, it’s easy to let things like snack wrappers, old bandages, and random scraps of paper accumulate on surfaces and in corners. You’ll be much more efficient if you work in a clean, well-organized environment.