It's difficult to believe anyone wouldn't know you need to clean your horse's stall or run-in shed daily. Manure buildup and ammonia from urine will plague your horse's hooves and respiratory system if you don't clean your horse's stall daily. You also need to periodically remove cobwebs and basic everyday dirt to reduce allergens and toxins in your horse's stall.
However, you don't have to get fancy about it. A few basic tools will allow you to do an efficient job and get onto the fun stuff. Our chart lists the basic must-have equipment for routine barn cleaning. You won't use every item every day, but you will need them over the course of a season.
Although muck buckets are typically barn staples for hauling off waste, a construction-type wheelbarrow is the best way to go. Get one that has two wheels-one on either side of the front of the wheelbarrow-as this feature adds a lot of stability and reduces the chance of you accidentally knocking the wheelbarrow over. If you can, get a plastic bed, as it will resist corrosion from the manure and urine and is much easier to wash clean with a water hose.
Muck tubs work, too, of course, but they're heavy and awkward to carry when full of manure. Even the muck-tub dollies tend to leave a lot to be desired in terms of ease of use around most barns. We'll reserve these for taking to shows and using in smaller, tighter spots where we can't maneuver our wheelbarrow.
Muck tubs tend to be plastic. However, if you're going to purchase one, you'll want to be certain it's designed for horse-barn use. This is one piece of equipment where getting it from a real tack/feed store will pay off. Many of the lighter ones sold in hardware stores and warehouse clubs are designed for leaves and holding ice at picnics, and the handles may break too easily to last in a barn.
Keep a Shipshape Barn
- Consider a wheelbarrow for hauling muck instead of a bucket or tub.
- Metal rakes hold up better than plastic for outside cleaning in barn areas.
- Plastic manure forks glide easier than metal ones and won't rust either.
- Brooms need heavy bristles to hold up around the barn.
- Pine oil, bleach and baking soda will help you disinfect and clean.
Rakes, Forks and Brooms
You'll need a rake, as outside cleanliness is equally important and you don't want your horse or visitors dragging dirt from the driveway back into the barn unnecessarily. In addition, leaves and deep dirt will form deep mud in bad weather, making the environment unpleasant for you and your horse. A strong, metal rake will get the job done quickly and effectively. The large plastic leaf rakes tend not to be strong enough to adequately move heavy horse debris.
A plastic manure fork is lighter and easier to use than the old-fashioned metal ones. It's also easier to keep clean and won't rust. We think the plastic forks glide more easily into the bedding and reduce fatigue. You can choose from a traditional-style fork or a bucket-style basket fork. The bucket-style forks are more expensive, but they also hold more and reduce the chance of you bumping it on a stall wall and dumping the contents as you aim for the wheelbarrow. Note: Be sure the fork you choose for shavings-bedded manure cleaning has closely spaced tines. Wider tines are better suited for tossing hay or straw bedding.
It's easy to choose the wrong barn broom, especially if you don't inspect the strength of the bristles. Household brooms are too lightweight and won't move the heavy barn dirt that accumulates in most aisles. Look for a broom with heavy corn bristles. Some folks prefer push-style brooms, as they are easier to use. However, the traditional upright broom gets into more nooks and crannies.
Many busy barns have begun to use leaf blowers to clean the aisle, instead of sweeping. This is a huge labor saver, and we approve of their use-provided you have the horses outside when you use it. The leaf blower can raise a lot of dust, which is not healthy for your horses to breathe and can get virtually everywhere if you're not careful.
The smell of pine oil in a barn can't be beat, especially if you're old enough to remember when that was the standard in odor control. It works just as well today and is relatively inexpensive. It can be used on stall floors and barn aisles. Mix about three ounces to a gallon of water in a water sprinkler can (like what you use to water flowers with) and sprinkle it on the floor surfaces. You can also get modern, specialized odor-eating products, if you'd like, but they tend to be more expensive.
You're also going to want bleach and baking soda on hand for routine disinfecting and cleaning tasks. Baking soda is an effective cleanser that rinses clean with no risk of residue or odor that might back your horse off from drinking from his water bucket. Use bleach when you wash brushes and equipment that have come in contact with a horse suffering from rain rot/fungus or any type of contagious disease. You can use bleach on stall walls and floors to disinfect the stall after an ill horse has been in the stall or to prepare a stall for a new horse.
A water hose is also a huge convenience for rinsing out tubs, buckets, aisles and anything else that accumulates huge layers of dirt and debris. It's also the easiest way to clean your manure forks and wheelbarrows.