A well-organized barn is not only a sign of good barn management, but it’s also important for improving the look, feel, and safety of your horse’s habitat. During the winter it is all too easy for a barn to become a cluttered mess. Blankets tend to be thrown around, turnout boots are constantly covered in mud or snow, and the heated tack room suddenly becomes the “local watering hole.” Luckily, there are a few easy preventative steps that can be taken to winterize your barn for the cold months of long hours spent indoors.
Step 1: Reduce clutter in barn storage areas
Spring is perfect for a little cleaning, but winter is the ideal time for reducing clutter. After a summer season of showing and riding outdoors, you would be surprised at the amount of equestrian products, equipment, and odds-and-ends that your barn has collected. Start de-cluttering your barn aisles and creating more winter storage space with these tips:
- Sort through existing equipment, tack, and riding paraphernalia to decide what items can be used, thrown out, donated, or repaired for future use.
- Use trunks, cubbies, and other storage devices to organize your tack based on use. For example, polo wraps and horse boots could go in the same storage area, while spare bits and bridle parts could go in a different storage.
- Put away your horse’s summer turnout clothing. Fly sheets, fly masks, scrims, ringside rain sheets, and any other items you only use during the warmer months should be cleaned and stored in a trunk. Adding mothballs or a few dryer sheets will help keep mice out.
Step 2: Clean-up the barn aisle
During the winter we spend more time indoors. Outdoor wash stalls are obviously out of commission, the outdoor rings can be frozen solid, and the trails are sometimes too icy. With all of these factors in mind, it should come as no surprise that the barn aisle tends to become a bit more crowded during the winter. Below are a few tips to help keep the aisle safe, clean, and beautiful throughout the winter.
- Organize your barn trunks. Trunks, tack boxes, and wrap/polo hanging wall units are perfect for storing everyday riding essentials. However, it is all too easy for your barn aisle to become cluttered with these items. Make sure that trunks are placed in a space-efficient manner throughout the aisle. Whenever possible, the use of wall storage units is a great way to free up space in the barn aisle.
- Buy a good winter broom. During the winter you will want to do an especially good job of removing spider webs and keeping the aisle clean of debris. Nothing is worse than having yesterday’s fresh mud turn into tomorrow’s frozen mess.
- Invest in blanket racks and a separate area for drying racks. Attaching blanket racks to the outside of stalls is a great way to keep your barn aisle free from extra clutter. Be sure to install the racks in a uniform manner that keeps the blankets out of the horses’ reach. If your barn has the storage space, add hanging drying racks for your turnout blankets.
Step 3: The importance of a label maker
Now that you have completed the first two steps, you are ready to label everything. Nothing is worse than re-organizing your barn only to discover that you have forgotten that the summer blankets have been moved to the plastic trunks and the winter coolers are in the wooden trunks by the tack room. Below are a few additional organizational tips.
- Label trunks that are used to store summer and spring blankets and place them next to each other. Conversely, trunks with extra winter blankets should be easy to access and labeled with their contents.
- Label horse blankets with both the horse and owner name to easily identify which blankets are yours.
- If you have a variety of ponies and horses at your barn, labeling each wall rack with “pony bandages,” “horse bandages” or “large horse bandages” can help riders find the proper equipment they need.
Organizing your barn for improved winter storage is as easy as starting with the above steps. Your barn-mates will thank you and the horses will be happy to have as much free space as possible to walk down the aisles and head to the indoor or outdoor turnout.
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