What tools do I need to REALLY clean my horse’s stall?
Most of the time, if you are diligent, you can get away with a muck tub and a manure fork. And of course you have tons of choices in styles, there, too. My arsenal contains a few more tools to make for a super tidy stall.
Manure fork - I’m a big fan of not wasting shavings, so any design that allows for the shavings to easily sift out is ideal. Many styles have ergonomic handles, deeper baskets, sides built up so no horse apples spill out.
**Handy tip - wrap your manure fork’s handle with golf tape or bike handle tape to prevent blisters.**
Broom - Not just for sweeping the barn aisle. The best way to keep cobwebs at bay is to remove them as you clean stalls. Your broom also serves to sweep away bedding under feed tubs, waterers, and where the pile of hay goes. If your horse is a messy eater, this makes clean up of trampled and dirty hay easy.
Wheelbarrow or muck tub. Your barn, your choice. For me it always depends on how many trips I don’t want to make to the compost pile.
**Safety tip - I don’t care how good your horse is, keep the handles pointed to the barn aisle. A stall is too cramped for a horse, you, a rake, and wheelbarrow handles. Yes, you will need to master the art of using the wheelbarrow backwards. It can be done. Better yet, clean the stall when it’s empty.
Snow shovel - Use the wide and flat blade upside down to scrape the mats to remove all of the sticky wet urine spots. Your fork will only get so much, the shovel gets the rest. Then flip it over to scoop out the wet urine stuff that you scraped up.
Snow shovels are also great for scooping bulk shavings. And snow.
Some more stall and barn cleaning ideas:
- If your horse is turned out for most of the day or night, peel back the shavings to allow the mats and any residual urine to evaporate and air out. Get down there and smell. Ammonia smells need to be addressed pronto, they are irritating and can be dangerous to horses and people.
- If you use the deep litter bedding system, avoid tossing the bedding around when you are looking for the wet spots. The deep litter system works best for tidy horses with predictable urine spots.
Tools of the trade.
- If you skimp on shavings, keep a close eye on hocks to watch for hair breakage and the beginnings of hock sores. Skimping on shavings works well for some horses and barns, not so well for others.
- Plan (and actually execute) a stall stripping and mat shifting day. This is also a chance to start fresh with brand new shavings. Tips for stripping stalls can be found here.
- Monitor ammonia levels and adjust accordingly. Yes, this means you must get down and smell. Sweet PDZ zaps ammonia and protects your horse's lungs.
- Pick your horse’s hooves before he leaves the stall - this keeps your barn aisle cleaner and makes less sweeping for you.
- You can sometimes save time by banking the walls with fresh shavings. This saves some trips to get refills. The extra banked shavings also help prevent casting and work well with the deep litter bedding system. You can also just pile some into a corner and fluff them out as you need.
What are your best stall cleaning tools and tips?