Yes – I know it’s not even August yet, but the summer months never seem to last long enough any year. And tbh, I use most of the summer to do what’s important – getting some riding in!
That Said – By the time I’ve cleaned the stables, disinfected them, painted/stained them, painted the feed/tack room, and moved the muckheap – I start to flag! Please tell me I’m not the only one. We all know these big jobs need doing; I was going to say, ‘whilst we have the time’ (HaHa!) In truth – whilst it’s not chucking it down or freezing cold, in preparation for Winter.
So I’ve compiled a list of easy – mainly half-hour tasks, that should give you lots more time in the winter. Plus – half an hour isn’t a huge amount of time to find once a week, or more if your lucky.
Like many people, whether on DIY, livery or at home like me – I have limited space for my feed, tack and rugs. Making the most of every square inch is important, as I hate feeling cramped.
Tack room/feed room clear out.
Ok, now this may be a mammoth task for some, and others not quite so much, but break it down into smaller jobs, and it’s easily doable. Someone I knew would empty everything out, look at it all, get overwhelmed, and then throw it all back in the box she’d just tried to pull it all out of.
Each task should take no more than 1/2 hour, so don’t feel like you have to tackle your tack room in one go – and when you’ve sorted everything out, you’ll have far more space to re-organise where things live.
1: Don’t start by cleaning your tack – you are just putting off tidying! Grab all the bits of leather you have and go through them. Those broken bits of tack– throw away or get them fixed. They are no good to anyone broken, and they are just another bit of leather to clean or go mouldy.
(Confession time – I have a box full of broken bits and pieces that I keep – just in case – and I’ve not used a single thing out of it in the 10 years I’ve had it – Time to practice what I preach with this one I think!
2: So the same goes for headcollars and lead ropes. If they’re broken, grab the spare clips off the end of the lead ropes. – assuming that’s not the broken part and then bin the rest. The clips are handly for hanging stuff off in my tack room, some are suitable for replacement clips on rugs, and some are great for adding extra security to the stable door of the Houdini Pony of the yard. But if you’re never going to use them – bin them too.
Top Tip – Give your headcollar and lead rope a new lease of life with a wash – they are often forgotten when cleaning stuff. I pop mine in the washing machine in a wash bag!
3: Boots and bandages (used for riding in) – get them washed, and paired up. Think about selling any that don’t fit, or you don’t like – because you’re not going to use them. (Really – Are you?!)
Also, get rid of the poor pair at the bottom of the pile that have definitely seen better days, and only have 1 ½ velcro left. You avoid using them so you don’t lose them out hacking, or that slip down.
Better to have one pair that you use all the time that fits than 20 that look pretty, but don’t fit.
20 Pretty ones that fit are also fine 😊
Top Tip – When you wash boots and bandages – fasten the velcro, so that it doesn’t get clogged up with dirt or fluff.
Bonus Top Tip – To keep your boots and bandages secure when in use, regularly clean your velcro. You can also use the same tool on any bits of velcro – front of rugs etc. 🙂
4: Stable boots and bandages – same as above – clean, match/pair up, and store them neatly. You may not need them regularly, but when you need them, it’s probably in a hurry if your horse is injured.
You do not want to be trying to find two bandages of any sort of description, let alone two that are actually the same length. The reason I say about pairing up bandages – is so that when you put them on, they are the same length and material.
This is so that they will have the same coverage and tension when you put them on. (Assuming you put them on with the same tension etc)
My tackroom and feed room measures 3 strides by 2 strides, wall to wall. As you can see, I use as much height space as I can. The little black plastic boxes fit nicely under my saddle rack and store all my boots and bandages in them. Now to actually tidy up in there!!
5: Lotions and potions – all those half-used bottles. Half a bottle of fly spray – will that be enough to see you through to the end of summer?
Even in October, I can still be putting fly spray on my boys some days. The rain, coupled with some warmer days sees all the flies hang around. So make sure you have enough left for those odd days.
Top Tip – I try and have half a bottle of fly spray left at the end of the year, (or a new small bottle) so when the weather changes in spring, I don’t get caught out without any. You can almost guarantee that when you need some in the spring , you don’t have time to nip to the tach shop for a good few days.
Are there any identical items that can be amalgamated? – I’m rubbish for having 2 or 3 bottles of mane and tail conditioner on the go at the same time, and when it’s all the same product (lincoln Silky mane and tail conditioner) I can often decant it into one bottle.
6: Shampoos– all those little bits left in the bottom? Get them used up! There is nothing wrong with an out of date shampoo, but if it’s been sat there for a few years – are you really ever going to use it up?
If it’s only taking up space – Ditch it or donate to another livery.
We used to have a small shelf at one yard, which was for stuff that you didn’t want – and was free for any other livery to have. (This gave back some much-needed space, and also meant that what was in your tack box were things you’d use. )
Or you could always use a drop of shampoo in some hot water to give your grooming kit a wash. But I cheat and put all my plastic-backed brushes (rubber curry combs, anything that’s safe) through the washing machine, in a wash bag! Make sure they are properly dry before you put them away.
7: Hoof oils etc – same for these – you’ve paid for them, they don’t do anything for your ponies feet sat in the tack room.
Make an effort to use them up, and if you think you’ll never use it – Bin it Or give it to someone else who will use it. Then replace it with one that you will use.
A decent Hoof oil can help with shoe retention All-year-round and can help reduce hoof chips and cracks in unshod horses.
Better to have one pot of something that you use all the time than 10 that take up space and don’t do anything (cos you don’t use it!)
7a: And, when you’re done with the plastic bottles, pop them in the recycling bin (please) 🙂
Or buy in bigger containers, decant and use the small ones every day. Don’t mix and match products through – Keep only the same product in the bottle as the label.
2 reasons –
1 – It stops you from getting the products mixed up.
2 – Some products come in stronger or different coloured plastics so that they don’t get affected by the light, or make the plastic brittle.
8: Feed room.
Find all your feed buckets. Are they all fit for purpose? Discard or repurpose ones that aren’t. Those that are, put them together and give them a really good scrub. Inside AND outside.
One of my horses likes to roll his feed bucket around his stable when it’s empty. If you grab them all together in a pile, it gets all over the bucket underneath. Yuk
9: Feed bins – now I’m good at running my horses feed down at the end of winter so that I’ve either got none left. Or it’s only the feed that I feed my horses through the summer.
Feed goes off, and if you have a habit of always topping up your feed barrels and not using that bit at the bottom, it can be old. Very old. And mouldy.
Not only are you wasting that bit of food, but the mould can work its way into the newer feed. Get those feed bins cleaned out, washed, and dried completely. Don’t forget the lids.
10: Whilst they are out the way, give the feed room a really good sweep out. Including behind the barrels where the food drops. The last thing you want is to encourage mice into your feed room.
Not least because they might find your leather in your tack room – or any of your rugs.
11: Speaking of rugs, depending on the number/collection/rug mountain you have will depend on how many you need to deal with. Washing and/or reproofing, fixing, and folding them so they can be stored away, ready for use.
Now’s the time to do it, if you haven’t already.
And when you’re going through them, are there any you never use or don’t fit. Are any damaged beyond repair? Also, try and be realistic about the type of rugs your horse needs, and how many.
My TB in work will be clipped and needs warmer rugs than my other TB, whos now retired. My unclipped Welsh pony spends most of the winter looking like a fluffball and doesn’t get a rug. He needs to keep trim for when spring comes around.
11a: Labels: this helps once they are bagged up – you don’t want to spend more time than necessary trying to find the right rug.
Mine are stored by sizes. I’ve got mine in plastic storage boxes on wheels, that stack together. This keeps them clean, tidy, and contained when they are not in use. The boxes are also mouse-proof.
Congratulations on making it this far – I hadn’t realised quite how much I’d waffled on.
Now if you’re looking for inspiration for how to store your things in your tack room, or ideas for how to arrange things – check out my Pinterest board Here
And don’t forget to tell me – what are your tips for tidying your tack room 🙂