As equestrians we face a myriad of obstacles and tasks that ultimately reduce the time we spend with our beloved companions and dwindle our bank accounts. Following are some barn hacks and horse keeping tips that can save you serious time and money!
The Perfect Bucket Scrubber
Toilet brushes make excellent bucket scrubbers and prevents your hands from getting wet and chilled in cold weather. Available at most dollar stores.
Did I Forget to Turn Off the Water? Solution
Have you ever forgotten to turn the hose off - or thought you did - after turning on the water to fill a trough? Save yourself from the stress of waking up in the middle of the night or being 30 miles from home when you ask yourself, “did I forget to turn off the hose”? Use a hose bib mechanical water timer - no batteries required - and the peace of mind is priceless.
To prevent your hose from popping out of the trough if you have high water pressure, use a garden hose metal bubbler/diffuser.
Totes for Flakes of Hay
IKEA bags are a great solution to carrying flakes of hay without leaving half of it on the ground! The straps are long enough to put over your shoulder allowing you to carry more than one. Flakes of hay from 60-pound 2 strand bales and 100-pound 3 strand bales fit perfectly in them.
Bagged Feed Storage
Use aluminum trash cans and drill holes in the lid to allow for maximum air flow.
Rubber trash cans have a much higher propensity to accumulate condensation and rodents can chew through even the heavy duty/thick cans.
Monitor The Temperature Inside Your Horse Trailer
Temperatures inside horse trailers should be a concern and monitored at all times. Install a temperature monitor with a base station - the same type used in homes to monitor the outside temperature without going outside. This is an inexpensive investment for your peace of mind and your beloved companion’s comfort.
Hang the sensor in a mesh bag for good air flow or mount it about halfway up the side of the wall in the trailer (as far away as possible from a warm body).
Livestock can generate quite a bit of body heat, even in cold weather. Conversely, in warmer weather it can alert you if temperatures rise to a cause of concern. This allows you to open and close air vents and windows to achieve optimum comfort with confidence for your precious cargo.
Water Trough Skimmer
To remove floating debris from the surface of the water, use a kitchen splatter screen. Available at most dollar stores.
Pool Noodle Boot Trees
Keep your boot shafts in great form with pool noodles. Simply cut the appropriate height and insert inside your boots. These are also great when cleaning or polishing your boots.
Equine Emergency Identification Plan
In case of emergency have a plan to properly ID your horse, mini, pony, mule, or donkey. Depending on your geographical location you may want to leave ID tags on your beloved companions for entire fire, flood or hurricane seasons.
Proper identification during an emergency/evacuation can help reunite you with your companion as soon as possible. The most effective and easy-to-use identification products are ManeStay and UltraLite emergency ID tags. They are lightweight, waterproof, and heat and flame resistant.
Use Drinking Water Safe Hoses to Fill Water Tubs
Did you know that most garden hoses contain lead and chemicals? Lead and chemicals are commonly used in garden hose manufacturing and leach into water.
My all-time favorite drinking water safe hose for filling water troughs is the EvoFlex. It is BPA-free, lead-free and phthalate-free. Its extra flexible design holds no memory, making it easy to position and store.
Prepare Supplements Days/Weeks Ahead of Time
Food storage containers are a great time saver if you feed supplements. Opening and closing multiple supplement bags and containers once or twice a day takes time. Buy food storage containers and fill them ahead of time with supplements. Place a layer of cut and sifted peppermint leaf in the bottom to provide a non-stick surface. If you feed supplements twice a day and they differ, use round containers for morning and square for evening (or vice versa).
Use the same size and brand so they stack nicely and store them in a dark storage tub with a lid in a cool dry place. Heat, light and oxygen can degrade the potency of vitamins and herbs.
This is super helpful if:
Vet Wrap = Soft Grips
Vet wrap is fantastic as a soft grip on pitch forks, rakes and brooms. It provides a superior grip if you’re wearing gloves and prevents blisters on bare hands. If your handles are metal it provides insulation from the heat and cold. It’s also useful to color code any kind of handle including buckets.
The Best Wheelbarrow Ever!
Quality tools of the trade are invaluable. The Rubbermaid® wheelbarrow is by far the best I've ever owned. The one pictured is 20 years old and has the original tires and tubes on it despite a variety of burrs on the property. It is manufactured in one solid piece so the handle never breaks off or cracks and can carry up to 300 pounds. The center mounted tires allow for easy balancing - combined with the handle design you have the option of pushing or pulling it.
Steak Knife Uses
Keep a steak knife handy at the barn to:
If you’re giving just a couple of tablets or capsules, A to Z Horse Cookies are a great solution. Break the soft cookie in half, place medication on the ﬂat side, and give it a squeeze and press. They are low carb, low sugar, wheat, corn and alfalfa free. Made in the USA using human grade ingredients.
If you need to administer numerous tablets or powdered medication, use a 60cc catheter syringe (it has a wider tip). Some tablets dissolve in a matter of minutes such as SMZs - others may need to be crushed. If you’re not sure, perform a test by placing one tablet in a cup with water. If it doesn’t dissolve within an hour, you’ll need to crush them. You can use a pill crusher or coffee grinder.
Place the tablets (if dissolvable) or crushed powder in the syringe and insert the plunger, draw some water or apple juice (doesn’t take much) into the syringe and shake well. To transform it into a paste consistency, draw some baby food (carrot or apple) and shake well.
You may want to put some baby food with a small amount of water in it initially to introduce your horse to the syringe and provide a positive experience before you give the medication.
Prevent Head/Neck Entanglement
If hanging hay bags, nets or toys from an elevated attachment site:
Ratchet Wrench For Safety
Keep an offset ratchet wrench close by if you use pipe panels for fencing. If a horse, donkey or mule becomes cast (while lying down or rolling, their legs are placed under the bottom rail preventing them from being able to stand up) you can quickly remove the pipe panel clamps and pull the panel away from their legs to free them. My pipe panel clamps have 9/16" nuts.
Secure Hay Tarps
Spike nails (8”or 12”) are an excellent solution for securing tarps on hay. You can easily drive them in with a rock or hammer; although they stay in place long term, they are easy to pull out.
Wrap your water bucket handle ends in duct tape or vet wrap to prevent eye or face injuries when your animals are scratching that itch, and to avoid your horse’s tail or mane from catching on it.
Hay Net Loading Tips
To make filling hay nets less cumbersome use a trash can or laundry basket (no handles) in 4 easy steps:
Organize & Store Horse Stuff
Repurpose plastic zippered cases as storage for items in your tack trunk or horse trailer. The cases keep items clean, organized and easy to find.
Keep Hands Dry and Warm
If you need to transport water, line a container (muck bucket, trash barrel, etc.) with a clean trash bag, fill with water and close the top with a twist tie or baling twine. You can then haul it in whatever wheeled transportation you have - truck, wheelbarrow, golf cart etc. - without half sloshing out.
Five gallon buckets with a snap on lid works well too!
This is super if you are at horse shows, camping or anywhere the water source is oh - so far away .
We will be adding more barn hacks and horse keeping tips to this blog post. Check back periodically to see our newest additions!
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About the Author:
Monique Warren invented the Hay Pillow® slow feeder and is the owner of Hay Pillow Inc.
Warren has been an equine guardian for over forty years and slow-feed advocate for over 10 years. She contributes equine nutrition and digestive and hoof health articles to publications such as Equine Wellness, The Journal, The Naturally Healthy Horse, Natural Horse Magazine, Nicker News, Horse Back Magazine, The Horse's Hoof, and Miniature Horse World Magazine. Equine nutrition and horses feet are her passions. She resides in Southern California.
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