Whether you have one horse at home or a 50 horse training
center, management is needed. This makes life easier, safer
and less expensive.
Organize grooming supplies to one area and keep them there.
Have show grooming equipment in a large but portable toolbox...you
can pull this out and have bands, comb, clippers, oil and
other items needed for preparing for show. Keeping this stocked
means less running around in the frantic pre-show preparations.
Some people prefer an overhead loft, while others have a
barn removed from the stall area for storage. Keeping hay
in a separate building with just enough for several days or
a month of hay (depending on size of your operation) can reduce
your fire insurance and does reduce the risk. If fire breaks
out in the hay stack and it's 300' from the barn, you lose
the hay and the structure but the horses are safe.
Some farms have a stall set aside for this short term storage,
others a corner of the barn, while others put 2-3 bales in
front of each stall.
For grains keep a barrel or other container - something to
put the grain in to that keeps it dry, clean, and inaccessible
to bugs, rodents and pets. Keep supplies stocked.
Have dry erase boards posted near the grooming area, tack
room, etc. On one have supplies you're low on - on another
have a calendar schedule. Have a farrier and vet list.
Remember to schedule checking fire extinguishers, electrical
boxes and other things often overlooked.
Manure is often considered a problem. There's too much of
it, it can be a fly and fire hazard and it's never ending.
Consider investing in equipment and hauling the manure to
a pile 1/4 mile or so from the barn. Consider having compost
piles, and once every six months or so take the tractor and
Consider keeping a daily log. Some might call this a journal
- whatever you call it, it can be as simple as a notebook.
List the date and note any jobs done, training notes and other
things. Sometimes this can bring up things we miss otherwise.
Along with this have a "to do" list - you might keep this
on a calendar specific for this purpose. When the shoer visits,
schedule the next appointment and put it on the calendar.
You can also note things like mowing pastures, cleaning fencerows,
entry deadlines, stallion nomination deadlines and ordering
the winter hay supply.
Have a covered area for clean bedding near the barn. Some
have a three sided shed near but not attached to the barn.
If you have foaling mares, keep straw near the hay but accessible.
Having to hunt for the straw under the hay is something probably
not going to be welcome a week before foaling! Keep it clean,
dry and accessible.
MAINTAIN SUPPLIES AND FACILITIES
Along with your supply list on the dry erase board, make
the monthly trip to get everything on the list.
Plan ahead! If you know the shavings truck needs a week time
frame be sure to guage your call to allow for that. Don't
wait until you have 2 bales of hay to call the supplier. If
you see on your schedule that the 1st is the deworming day,
make sure you have enough dewormer for all the horses needing
it. Maintaining supplies can mean saving money - and if you
have the luxury of shopping when you want to rather than *have*
to you can sometimes get things on sale.
Keep a "to do" list of minor repairs. Have a schedule for
cleaning water troughs in pastures and thoroughly cleaning
waterers in the barn. Fix things when small and save major
repairs. Maintain tractors and other equipment on a regular
Keeping hay and bedding safely stored helps towards fire
prevention. Sprinklers, proper storage of flammables, keeping
vehicles out of the hay area (even hot tailpipes on four wheelers
can start a fire), storing fuel outside of the barn, keeping
charged fire extinguishers stationed throughout the barn,
developing a fire evacuation plan and keeping brush trimmed
back away from barns all combine to increase safety. On a
monthly basis inspect wiring and electrical boxes. Keep cobwebs
and dust knocked down. If you have a washer and dryer in the
barn, clean the lint trap of the dryer after EVERY LOAD! Post
no smoking signs and enforce them.
Along with fire prevention - make a plan for evacuation.
Have halters for each horse on every door along with a lead
rope. Have pastures or paddocks planned so that in an extreme
emergency there's room for stallions separated and to put
mares and geldings in a safe enclosure away from the fire.
For horses, trailers, equipment and tack have security measures
in place. Cameras help but even with cameras if someone enters
the barn with a ski mask you are helpless to detect who it
Mark equipment. While you don't have to disfigure it, make
markings that identify it as *YOURS*. Brand an identification
number on the under side of trailer floors. On the underside
of the cantle or horn place an identifying mark of some sort
that is unique.
Tack sales can mean peddling quickly stolen equipment. Horses
have been stolen and found due to good security measures.
Take monthly photos of all horses...some change from winter
to summer coat, for example. Photograph scars, brands, unique
markings on the horse with a focused plan. These don't change.
Have set barn hours if you have a public stable.
Do regular pasture maintenance. This includes mowing, any
herbicides you use (make sure to prominently display "DO NOT
TURN OUT" horses in fields that have been sprayed according
to directions on the label)! This can be scheduled on the
board and a simple laminated sign (have several made) saying
"FIELD CLOSED" that you put on the gate. This can be invaluable
not only for herbicides but if a fence is down it assures
no horse is put in the field until the next day when you fix
With the rising costs take good care to manage your pastures
as a viable nutrition source, which they are! Seed them when
needed, keep them mowed, keep them free of trash, drag them
regularly to disperse manure piles.
Actively look for ways to cut costs and manage better. Work
smarter not harder.
Stables need not be fancy to be neat and safe. A well groomed
horse takes time and a few essentials to present.
About the Author
Ron Petracek was raised in southern Idaho with horses and
the great outdoors. With this continued passion He now shares
through a a vast equine network. Learn more by clicking the
links below. Amazing
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