There's stall cleaning, and then there's STALL CLEANING.

Our friend, Nancy McLean, is licensed in Thoroughbred Racing for 16 seasons in all phases from Hot Walker, Groom to current position as an Assistant Trainer. Owner of Stonecrest Farm where Thoroughbreds can come home to a little R&R... Not to mention, an avid supporter and contributor to this awesome thing I call Pro Equine Grooms.  Here's Nancy's insights on cleaning stalls....Thanks Nancy!!

"Cleaning stalls is a horse-keeping chore that is often times looked at as being menial or unimportant. In reality that couldn’t be less true. A dirty stall or improperly “mucked” stall can result in many health issues for the equine occupant.  Thrush, Cellulitis, breathing and skin problems can be the result of an extended stay in a dirty environment.  Today’s blog will attempt to go over the basics of a good stall management program. This is a topic that is very basic, but sometimes overlooked by training professionals when teaching students horse care and management.

Stalls should be cleaned on a daily basis. On the racetrack where horses are confined in their stalls for 22-23 hours a day, we clean continually throughout training hours. This does seem to lessen our workload in the mornings and does keep the stalls cleaner and drier. Good stall management also involves keeping the stalls maintained structurally. Fix boards and remove anything that poses a risk of injury. Keep the stall floor level and uniform, fill in holes and uneven surfaces with ag-lime, (make sure you "tamp", water and allow it to dry.), mats are an option if a horse puts a lot of wear and tear on the stall floor.

Sometimes you need to really hunt for the wet spots...  You can also sometimes get away with skimpy shaving in some situations.  More on that here.


Now for the actual cleaning suggestions...

The first step in cleaning a stall is to sift out the manure with a cleaning fork. Some horses have a regular routine and defecate in the same spot or pattern everyday, this makes it easy to clean and assess if all is normal with your horse. Some spread their manure all over the stall; this takes more time to clean and may involve using a rake as a sifting tool for smaller pieces of manure.

Raking the stall usually helps in pinpointing the urine spot, a wet area that will usually be in the same location everyday for each individual horse. 


The deep litter bedding system works for lots of horses.  The bedding is packed and packed over time.  Step by step instructions can be found here. 


Fillies and mares tend to urinate toward the back of the stall and colts and geldings tend to urinate toward the center of the stall.  Once you locate the urine spot it is important to remove all the urine soaked shavings down to the mat or limestone base this will help to prevent bacterial infections, such as thrush, and/or ammonia vapors from building up to unhealthy levels. Rake to get as much as possible. Spread the remaining clean shavings throughout the stall in a uniform manner and add more bedding if needed.


A great example of a deeply bedded straw stall.


For cleaning stalls with straw bedding the process is basically the same except you need to separate the clean straw (usually I use a corner) and remove the manure and soiled straw. Rake the entire base or floor of the stall. Spread the clean straw evenly and add straw if needed.

It's better to bed on too much straw/shavings than not enough. Hock sores, front ankle abrasions and urine stains on the horses will appear if you don't use enough bedding whether you use straw or wood shavings. Finally, don’t forget to clean feed tubs and water buckets!"  


Sweet PDZ is an easy way to get rid of ammonia!

I'll add that ammonia is a dangerous part of horse keeping, and can easily be remedied with a simple dusting of stall freshener (NOT LIME!) under the shavings.  Ammonia is horrible for lungs - your's and your horse's!


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