Spring is the perfect time to tackle maintenance and cleaning projects around your horse barn. Generally, the weather is becoming more pleasant and "spring fever" starts to kick in, endowing us with energies and enthusiasm we didn't know we had!
Start at the Top
Your job will go quicker and there will be less chance of you forgetting something and leaving something out if you start systematically checking your barn over from top to bottom:
- Take a look at the roof - how is it holding up?
- If there has been some damage over the winter - for example, if high winds have lifted the corrugated tin sheets or shingles have been damaged - you'll need to think about repairing it. This may be something you feel confident doing yourself, or you may prefer to call in a contractor.
- If there are a lot of leaves on the roof, use a high-pressure hose to clean them off.
- Check the guttering - is it clogged with leaves?
- If there are a lot of trees around your stable there's a good probability that the gutters and down spouts are clogged with leaves.
- Use the same high pressure hose you used on the roof to clear leaves out of the gutters. Wire caps that fit into the down spouts can be purchased in hardware and building supply stores and will keep leaves from getting stuck in the downspouts in the future. (They also act as a deterant to birds and other nest building wildlife)
- If you haven't got a high pressure hose, you can do just as good a job by hand, it will just take you longer. It will save a bit of time if you position a wheelbarrow by the ladder, so you can scoop leaves out of the gutter and drop them straight in the wheelbarrow, so you don't have to go round later sweeping up leaves.
- Check windows and doors and replace those that have been damaged during winter storms.
Around the Horse Barn
- How's the drainage around the barn area? If there are spots that continuously held water and got churned up and muddy all winter, considering improving drainage.
- This can be accomplished in a number of ways, for example, digging drainage ditches or adding gravel to muddy gateways, but it's best to contact the Agricultural Extension Agent in your area for their suggestions. They will be familiar with what has worked, and what hasn't and can advise accordingly.
- Check the fencing in the paddocks and pastures.
- If boards are popping and nails are sticking out, you'll need to go round with a hammer and take care of the problem before you horse finds the protuding nails and injures himself.
- Check the water troughs in the pastures - freezing temperatures may have damaged pipes.
Inside the Horse Barn
If you are going to be doing any repairs in and around your horse barn, try to do them when the horses are not in the barn. Sweeping and activities such as sawing wood will create excessive dust which will not be healthy for the horses. After repairs have been completed, run over the whole area with a powerful magnet to pick up left over nails, before allowing the horses back in.
- Do the rafters look like something out of "Arachnaphobia"?
- Personally, I would get someone else to get up inside the roof with a large broom and take care of the spider webs! But that's just me and my fear of spiders.
- Check the stall walls and doors.
- Sometimes horses who are bored by being kept in during inclement weather, take out their frustration on the stall walls and you may need to do some repairs.
- If you've got clay floors in your barn, you may want to consider levelling the floors and filling in the holes with a suitable material.
- Sometimes the holes in clay floors are caused by horses pawing, sometimes by stall cleaning itself. However it's caused, left unattended, the situation will get worse, excess urine will collect in the holes, soiling bedding and creating an unhealthy environment.
In the Tack Room
Once you have checked your barn over and repaired anything that needs repairing, it's time to turn your attention to the tack room.
- Now's a good time to send all those blankets out for cleaning.
- It's possible to find a service that will collect all the blankets in the barn, clean them, repair them and pack them neatly in yards of cling-film which keeps them clean and keeps the bugs out. Services like this are worth their weight in gold!.
- Having temporarily cleared out some space in the tack room, take advantage and spend some time with your tack spread all over the place, in pieces.
- Check the leather for wear and damage. Replace what needs replacing, thoroughly clean the rest.
- Use this opportunity to reorganize your tack room.
- Add more shelves if necessary - hardware stores and building supply centers are good sources for modular shelving.
- Look around for suitable containers that will keep small items neat and tidy. Rubbermaid, for example, make a wide range from their rough totes to stackable baskets.
- Go through your First Aid kit and make sure that any items which are dated are still good and replenish any items you are getting low on.
- Clean and disinfect all brushes, towels and other items before storing them back in your new shelves and containers.
I hope this has given you some ideas and inspiration to get started sprucing up your horse barn. Of course, you don't have to stop here--you can really go to town and give everything a new coat of paint, decorate the yard with some container plants and add nifty name plates to all the doors. By the time you are done, you'll have a facility you can be proud of!