If you dread organizing closets and mopping behind the refrigerator this spring, you’re not alone. Most of us would rather spend our time and energy cleaning the barn instead. For horsepeople, spring-cleaning is about more than tidying up the tack room, though. As you tackle the job this year, don’t overlook these important tasks:
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• Empty and sweep the hayloft or shed. Your hay supplies are likely at their lowest of the year right now, which means it’s a good time to tend to that space. Remove the remaining bales and sweep the floor thoroughly. Look for signs of rodents. If you find any, devise a plan to evict them. Also check for wet spots on the floor, which probably indicate a roof leak that could lead to moldy bales. Remove cobwebs and bird’s nests, then put back the hay, making sure you stack it near the door so the oldest will be used first after a new load is delivered.
• Declutter the aisle. A passageway filled with tack trunks, rakes and other items is an accident waiting to happen. Designate a new space, in a low-traffic area, to store stall-cleaning tools. Then, move as many tack trunks and containers as possible to a room or stall set aside for that purpose. If blankets and sheets are regularly tossed on the ground, invest in blanket racks. Ideally, the aisle will be free of everything but the occasional horse.
• Scrub troughs, tubs and buckets. Scrubbing troughs and tubs isn’t a once-a-year job, but winter cold can keep you from doing as thorough a job as you would like. Spring is a good time to attack them with a stiff brush and elbow grease. If you need a bit more “oomph,” sprinkle the surface with baking soda as you work. It’s abrasive enough to remove grime but won’t leave a chemical residue if your rinsing is less than perfect. While you’re at it, ensure that any automatic waterers are in good working order with no signs of leakage or corrosion.
• Inspect the stalls. Strip the bedding from your stalls, and give every inch of the space a close look. Start at the floor level and work your way up, looking for frayed or curling mats, rotting wood, protruding nails, mangled salt-block holders and the like. If you can’t fix a problem on the spot, keep your horse in another space until you can repair the damage or replace the item entirely.
This article first appeared in EQUUS issue #451, April 2015.