By Cari Klostermann
Courtesy of America’s Horse Daily
Let’s start this off with a little honesty: nobody likes cleaning. In the time spent sweeping and scrubbing, you could’ve gone on a beautiful trail ride or finally perfected your spin. Unfortunately, cleaning is a necessary evil. Without it, our tack would suffer and our barn would become a real fire hazard, so let’s break down spring cleaning and tackle it with a fully formed plan.
Step 1 – Give your horses a good grooming
There are plenty of amazing things that come with spring. The wildflowers bloom, and your horse sheds so much hair you could make a whole other horse. So that last part may not be so great, but there’s no denying the finished product of a slick horse is pretty magnificent. Speed up the shedding process with a few good groomings.
Shedding can be just as uncomfortable for your horse as it is for you. As the temperature increases, he becomes desperate to get rid of that extra layer of fluff. Brushing, currying and bathing are ways you can assist your horse in his time of need.
Step 2 – Put away winter gear
Your horse definitely appreciated his winter blanket on chilly days, but now it is just taking up precious space in the tack room. Sure it’s easy to just throw it in the attic, but then when you need it next year you’re met with a stiff and stinky blanket that your horse wants no part of.
Take the time to properly wash and put away all of your winter gear, including your stock tank heater. You will definitely thank yourself when that first cold snap comes a few months down the road.
Step 3 – Tackle the tack room
Time for a little more honesty. There are things in your tack room that you don’t even know where they came from or what they do. It’s time to let those things go. Take some time to critically sort through your tack room and throw out or sell items that you never use. It’s a painful process, but once you’re finished you’ll be surprised how much room you have.
With all of that junk gone, you can now see the floor and, boy, is it filthy! After your great purge, give the tack room and your tack a thorough cleaning. Vacuum and sweep out all the built-up hay and grime and politely ask all the spiders that have turned your tack room into their luxury hotel to please move on. Give your tack a good cleaning and conditioning to ensure it is ready for showtime.
Step 4 – Disinfect the stalls
Your horses have more than likely been cooped up in their stalls for most of the winter, and their stalls have suffered. While your horse is out frolicking in green pastures, grab the shovel, wheelbarrow, hose and disinfectant and get to work.
Strip the stalls all the way down to their base and hose off the walls to get the top layer of dust and grime off. Spray some horse-safe disinfectant and get to scrubbing. Before you know it, your horse’s stall will be more sanitary than your own house.
Step 5 – Evaluate your hay supply
Before winter, you stocked up on some quality hay that would last you through the winter. Now that it’s spring, a lot of that hay is lacking in the quality department and needs to go.
Sort your hay into three piles: good, OK and bad. If you have a ton of good hay left that your horse will never be able to finish before it goes bad, donate it to a rescue barn or some friends who are running low. The OK hay is still good enough to feed to cows, goats and sheep, so spread the wealth. That bad pile of hay needs to go directly to a burn pile.
Step 6 – Make repairs
During winter, nobody wants to spend copious amounts of time out in the cold, and your property can begin to suffer. Use the pleasant spring weather to make all the repairs on your fences, trailer, water tanks and more.
Step 7 – Get your horses prepared for parasites
Flies, mosquitoes and worms make their miraculous resurgence in the spring, and you need to make sure your horses are ready for the war.
Stock up on fly spray and replace worn out fly masks and sheets that are full of holes. Mosquitoes carry potentially deadly diseases, but thankfully these diseases can be prevented with proper vaccination. Take your horses down to visit their favorite vet, who will help you protect your horses. Lastly, safeguard your horses’ gastric tract with an effective dewormer.
Cleaning and chores are much less fun than riding, but putting away items and keeping your barn clean can reduce the possibility of an accident and make life easier throughout the year. Take the time to get your cleaning done right.