Working Smarter in the Barn

Are you spending more time working in the barn than with your horses? If so, there are ways to cut your chore time. The key to successful stable management is organization. This doesn't mean you need to renovate the entire barn, just make a few changes.

Story originally posted by: Susan Dudasik

Many horsemen spend much of their time looking for things: a halter, Lead rope, rake or grooming tools. Each horse should have its own halter and lead placed on a hook near its stall. When turning your horse out, fasten the halter to the fence instead of carrying it back and forth.

Have a specific place for all stallcleaning tools. Rakes and forks should be hung up and muck carts dumped out and stood on end. Wrap some bright colored tape on the tool handles so they are easier to spot. All cleaning equipment should be kept out of the aisle, away from horses and foot traffic.

If you have to clean with the horse in the stall, use a smaller muck bucket so you can shut the door and not have to constantly shoo him from the open door. It’s also quicker to clean a few times a day instead of just once, since the horse has less time to scatter the piles. If the stall will be empty for several hours, rake the bedding away from the wet spots to air dry.

Keep sweat scrapers and scrub brushes handy by tying a haystring to them and hanging them near the water faucet. Tying colored string to hoofpicks makes them easier to spot in bedding. Each horse should have its own grooming tools which can be kept in recycled supplement buckets that can also be filled with water to clean the brushes. Nail a wire salt block holder outside the stall away from the horse and use it to hold your fly spray.

Another time-consumer is having to re-check on times or dates. The easiest way to solve this is with a message board to record vet and shoeing appointments, show dates, supplies needed and repairs to be made. Tie something to write with to the board. A wall calendar and small notebook are also handy for keeping track of appointments, club meetings and shopping lists.

Does it take forever to feed? If you’re using haynets and feed two or more times a day, fill enough nets for the whole day so you just have to hang them. The same goes for supplements. Fill small recloseable containers with the prescribed supplements for each meal, then add to grain before feeding time. If you have just a few horses, make enough for several days at once. You’ll be amazed at how much time you save.

Another time-saver is cleaning the stalls and filling hay racks and water buckets when it’s unoccupied so you won’t have to stop work each time your horse tries to run out the door.

Watering also takes time, even if you have automatic ones. Carry a scrub brush, then dump and give all individual watering containers a quick scrub at least once a day. If the stall is unoccupied for most of the day, empty the bucket and let air dry. Tank waterers should be cleaned weekly to prevent algae build-up which takes longer to scrub off.

A cluttered barn is a major time-stealer. Taking a few seconds to hang-up or toss haystrings is easier then spending an hour gathering those that have tangled themselves in tools or fencing. If you rake the aisle in front of each stall as you finish it, when your last stall is done, so is the aisle. Instead of piling empty feed sacks, fold them as you empty them and place them in one bag. Recycled feed bags make great trash containers that can be tossed instead of having to empty all the time. Keep hoses rolled and hung up instead of having to constantly move them as you rake.

Keeping a neat, organized barn isn’t all that difficult, it just takes a little effort. And while many of these ideas are simple little things that take a few minutes to perform, they can save lots of time in the long run. So, with your hectic schedule, wouldn’t you rather be spending time with your horse instead of stripping his stall or scrubbing a water bucket?