Depending on where you live, spring may be just around the corner or still a few weeks away. Either way, it’s officially time to start getting ready for the best season of all: riding and showing season! As the weather begins to warm and your horses begin the great shed of Spring 2021, now is the perfect time to schedule a spring-cleaning session for your barn, pastures and trailer. Grab your favorite broom, put on your tool belt and let’s get busy!
- Tack Room Tidy-Up. It’s time to take stock of your tack room and everything in it! Check your tack for wear and tear, broken pieces or loose stitching and make a list of needed repairs. Got tack you haven’t touched in a while, such as saddles that no longer fit or bits you don’t need? Think about whether you need it or not, then make a plan to donate or sell what you aren’t using. Pull out your grooming tote and sort through your brushes, hoof picks and other items for broken or worn-out items. Then grab your bath bucket and double-check your shampoo and ShowSheen supplies.
- Rehab Your Medicine Cabinet. Check your horse (and human!) first aid kits now. Make an inventory of what you have, what you need and what you use most often. Toss empty bottles and properly dispose of all expired medications. Check the contact names and numbers of your veterinarian, farrier and other equine professionals, and update accordingly. Start a shopping list for your next trip to town so you can re-stock your kits.
- Inventory and Organize Your Feed, Hay and Bedding Supplies. If you’re running low, it’s best to know now so you can make a run to the feed store or put in a call to your hay supplier. Check your feed storage bins for signs of rodents and insects. Inspect your hay for signs of mold or other issues. If you’re running low on bedding, place an order.
- Take Stock of Your Junk Pile. Kitchens have junk drawers, but barns have junk corners. Tackle the junk piles that have been developing in your barn this winter and figure out what you should toss, keep or recycle.
5. Perform a Stall Check. Whether your horses are stalled every day or only in times of extreme weather, take time now to look for sharp edges, splinters, exposed nails and other issues which are injuries waiting to happen. Do the same thing for your run-ins and other pasture shelters.
6. Walk Your Pastures. If you don’t walk your pastures every day, you never know what might be going on out there. Schedule a weekly pasture visit so you can check your fences and spend time walking your fields looking for holes, lost shoes or other debris. If your horses’ fields border roads, plan a monthly litter pick-up day.
7. Clean and Inspect Your Trailer. If your trailer has been in storage all winter, now is the time for a spring maintenance check. Get your tires inspected, test your hitch apparatus and hook your electrical systems up to check for blown fuses or bad bulbs. Inspect your trailer floor; if you’re concerned about rust or wear and tear, consult an expert for help. If you didn’t empty your tack compartment last winter, check out what you left behind and decide on how you plan to restock and re-pack for your first show or trail trip.
8. Water Trough Maintenance. If it’s a warm day, go ahead and dump all your water troughs, scrub them and refill them with clean, fresh water. Your horses will thank you! If hard freezes are already a thing of the past where you live, pack up your tank heaters until next year.
9. Invest in Curb Appeal. Your barn can be beautiful and functional. If warm weather has already set in for good in your area, purchase some potted plants and hanging plants to give your barn a warm, cheerful atmosphere. Just make sure to place or hang all plants out of your horses’ reach and remember to water as needed.
10. Overhaul Your Manure Pile. Every manure pile needs tending. Depending on your property, you may need to have your manure pile hauled away from time to time, or you may be an expert at creating beautiful compost by now to share with your gardening neighbors. Either way, spend a little time taking care of your manure pile. A composting manure pile must be aerated regularly, so use a tractor with a front-end loader or spend a few hours getting friendly with your favorite shovel.
We feel compelled to warn you that once you’ve finished spring cleaning in your barn, your family and friends might start asking when you plan to spring clean your home. Here’s what you do to head those people off: finish your barn chores for the day, hop on your favorite horse and go for a long, leisurely trail ride until they all give up and go home. You’re welcome. Happy trails!