Bridles, halters, lead ropes, crops, helmets, wraps, blankets, and bottles of fly spray and ointment bulge out of every nook and cranny of our tack room and barn aisle. Clutter weighs on our minds and creates dangerous situations for horses and riders.
Corralling clutter is as much about changing our way of thinking as it is about adding shelves, racks, hooks and other organizers to your barn.
Try these five clutter busting tips at your barn this summer.
1. Consider selling How many pairs of leg wraps, bridles, saddle pads, brushes, etc. do you truly need? If you’re not running a lesson program that requires you to always have that extra piece of equipment, think about selling or donating equipment you haven't used in the last year. Encourage boarders to do the same. If you sell it, the extra cash can come in handy for bills, unexpected repairs, emergency vet calls, or purchasing that "other" piece of equipment you want. Or you can donate the items to an equine fundraiser (check with your local Pony Club, mounted police, therapeutic riding group, or 4-H extension leader).
2. Purge broken items It’s tempting to save that sheet with a tear or that halter that needs a new snap. If possible, fix repairable items immediately. You also can place a labeled box or bag in a prominent place in the tack room for "repairable" items. That keeps them out of the "usable" group (thus saves you time remembering "Oh yeah, that one has a broken strap" every time you choose equipment) and keeps them all in the same spot, ready to take to be repaired. Set a reminder on your calendar at least each quarter and allocate time to take the equipment to be repaired. If a torn blanket or broken halter is still around months (or years) later, it’s time to part ways. If it is repairable and you just don't want it, donate it to one of the groups listed above.
3. Set limits Decide how long an unused piece of equipment can linger. It may be one year or five years, but if the item hasn’t been used within the allotted time, it’s time to sell or donate it. It helps to have a semi-annual inventory of your equipment (going into winter and before spring) so that you know what you own. This list is also good for insurance purposes, and the timing allows you to get blankets out and inspected for winter or cleaned, repaired and put away for summer.
4. This for that Shopping for new equipment is fun! But before placing the new purchase in the tack room, feed room or trailer, remove the item being replaced. If it is still serviceable, sell or donate it.
5. Get started Cutting clutter is daunting. Avoid thinking about how much work you have to do and start in one area. Chances are clutter is slowly taking over the barn office, the grooming stall, the tack room and the trailer. Pick one area and start there. A feeling of accomplishment will motivate you to move on to other areas. Setting a reminder in your calendar and allocating time for each area will help you succeed.
Take control of clutter at your barn this year with these tips, and check back for more "clutter-busting" tips throughout the year.