Make The Best Use of Barn Time During Shorter Days

Riding at sunset WesternHorseman This weekend marks the “unofficial” end of summer.  Since late June, the days have been getting shorter and shorter.  Which means daylight time to ride is getting less and less.  In order to make the most of your time with your horse, here are 12 tips to save time on barn chores. With organization and a plan, you can still deliver a high level of care, but now at a faster rate.  

  1. Clean up the tack room once and for all and then set it up in an organized fashion. You’ll save loads of time if you don’t spend it looking for that missing leg wrap or crop.  Classic Equine Equipment has an organizational system for your tack room that can help you find what you want when you want it. 
  2. Move the feed room to either the middle of the barn or to the end closest to where you enter. Hay kept at the opposite end of the barn can mean wasted time walking to it before starting to feed.
  3. Color code. Depending on how many horses you have, consider color coding buckets and other accessories. This really helps at feeding time keeping everything straight.   At a small barn, one horse has a green bucket as well as a green grooming kit with mostly green colored brushes, combs, etc.  Another horse has black items and a third is purple.   Even the blankets are color coded.  It can be a bit of a challenge to find the right items in the right colors, but worth it in time later on.
  4. Use available barn accessories. Classic Equine Equipment offers some terrific automatic waterers.   They even have a water heater attachment.  You’ll save a lot of time cleaning and refilling buckets.  No more chipping ice or lugging hot water to the barn either.
  5. Consider upgrading your stall doors to include swing out feed and hay doors. They save quite a bit of time rather than opening each stall and trying to dump the grain in the bucket before Mr. Horse gets his nose in the way.
  6. Install blanket bar(s) on the front of each stall door. Not only are they a handy place to put your horse’s blanket when not in use, but you can also hang fly masks, bell boots and other things.  You can also attach a bucket to the blanket bar small items like gloves, polo wraps, etc. 
  7. Organize a shot clinic and have all the horses get their spring/fall shots at the same time. Ditto deworming and getting teeth done. You’ll also save money with just one vet barn call. 
  8. Find out if the blanket laundering place will pickup and deliver – have everyone prepare the blankets that need cleaning/repair in a plastic bag, properly marked and arrange for the place to come to you.
  9. Use a company like SmartPak for feeding supplements. I know, you think you can do just as well yourself using baggies and a mortar and pestle to grind everything up.  If you’ve done it for a few years, you’ll soon see it’s a wonderful thing to have someone else do it.   Prices are competitive, but the time you’ll save is priceless.
  10. Investigate new ways to bed and clean your stalls. Use rubber stall mats (Classic Equine Equipment offers some nice ones) to cut down on how much bedding you use.  Consider using bedding pellets – they last longer and are easier to clean.  Some come with additives to help eliminate the ammonia smell, cutting down the necessity to add something separately.
  11. Move your manure pile closer to the barn and start composting. The heat from properly composting kills parasites and eliminates the odor from the manure.  Plus, when it’s finished you’ll have a ready supply of fertilizer.
  12. Use the right tools and buy the best. Buying a manure fork that is heavy-duty can make the job go much faster as you can scoop up more.  Using a wheelbarrow or utility cart to feed hay and grain can also cut down on time.  Make sure these are all stored in a safe, but convenient place.  You don’t want to be lugging them back and forth to the barn to use them.

There are many other great ideas and tools that can save you time in the barn.  If you have a special trick, why not let us know and we’ll share them.  Then we can all have more fun riding!

Photo credit:  Western Horseman

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