We horse people are some of the most creative, inventive people out there. Nothing surpasses our ability to take common household items, and create new uses for them in the barn. Cleaning up and straightening my brush box and tack trunk made this abundantly clear. Here are some of the things I came across, and what they’ve been used for.
*Inexpensive, store brand mouthwash. It gets used for everything from an itchy tail or bug bites in the summer, to washing hooves. Not the fancy whitening kind, just the plain jane, usually a pretty blue or green, smelling minty fresh, mouthwash. The minty fresh feeling it leaves in your mouth also works to help ease intense itching from summer bug-induced woes, and the advertised germ-killing action helps clear out pesky hoof-dwelling germs. (As an added bonus, the hoof does smell better when you are checking it over for general health.)
*Dish soap, and a scrubber with a built-in soap dispenser. When I finally broke down and purchased one of these for my kitchen, it was a good day. It was too easy to see how much nicer that scrubber would make cleaning water buckets, scrubbing hooves, scrubbing barn cat bowls, spot cleaning halters, well, you get the idea. The poor brush lasted about 30 minutes in the kitchen before heading to its new location, the brush box.
*My husband, who is an amazing cook, showed me the wonders of a spider strainer for cooking. Of course, there was a lightbulb moment and not long after, a strainer with a handle appeared outside by the water tank. This is perfect for scooping blown in leaves and debris, hay (if you have a horse who likes to wash their hay,) and ice from the water tank. I’ve also used my to fish out a couple of birds that fell in (they survived!)
*We all know you can fix just about anything with baling twine, but every now and then duct tape is necessary too. It can perform emergency repairs on blankets that are torn, create an emergency hoof boot to hold a poultice in place, hold your attire together until you can change- you name it, duct tape can be the ultimate in emergency repair measures.
*Baby diapers are a relatively inexpensive option for emergency wound care (combined with duct tape, too!) They also work well to hold a poultice in on a hoof, can be easily configured to fit many areas on the horse to keep a wound clean and dry, and can make life much easier if you are trying to treat a fidgety horse. Speaking of wound care, who among us has not had a rope burn, cut, or blister pop up unexpectedly? In one corner of the tack trunk, I keep a small stash of flexible band-aids in various sizes, and usually several tubes of triple antibiotic cream.
*A small tube of old-fashioned toothpaste. Not the whitening kind, not one with any fancy properties- just the one that many of us grew up with as kids that our dentist recommended. In a pinch, I have used this to dab on big fly bites and small scrapes and abrasions.
*Makeup remover pads. Generally small, circular cotton pads, these work amazingly well for cleaning small wounds and also while applying the medication directly to a specific area.
*It is not unusual to see a tub of hand wipes or even a container of baby wipes in my gear. These provide a quick answer to removing grime from any exposed surfaces on me, but they also do in a pinch to wash dust and dirt off muzzles and out of horse noses.
*Elastic ponytail holders have a place near and dear to my heart, as I tend to have longer hair. But so do my horses, and when the summer heat strikes, I like to have these on hand to throw in some quick braids and get their manes off their necks. I have also used them to help secure a blanket strap, that the hook was slightly bent on. (Note- I did use an older elastic, with weak spots. Just in case Tater should snag a hoof on that strap somehow, having something that would give to pressure was important.)
*Now that I have a horse with so much white on his face and muzzle, sunburn is a concern. We have tested a wide variety of sunblock and found a few that work to keep Tater’s nose burn-free. Finding one that didn’t wear off or wash off easily in his water was a bit tricky (as Tater does love to dunk his face in the buckets,) but he is much happier not having a sore muzzle. Once in a while, I might remember to apply some to myself, too.
*A good multitool and a pocket knife (or 3 or 5 or so) go a long way. The multitools come in so many sizes, it is nice to have a couple of them in strategic locations. Used for emergency fence repair, pulling small rocks and items wedged into the hoof, and they generally have razor sharp knives tucked in there. I have used my multitool on the trail, where my companion's horse stepped into a tangle of hidden wire- the pliers with the cutting edge allowed for quick removal, from what could have been a very dangerous situation.
What are some items you have used around the barn? I’d love to hear your ideas!
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