It’s that time of year again. The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, and the shed, stable or barn needs cleaning. The phrase “spring cleaning” may send younger family members rushing to their rooms for emergency “homework” sessions, but taking care of your equipment and storage areas is essential for horse health. Tackling the tack doesn’t have to mean giving the room a makeover, but it should definitely include time for organization, dusting and general cleaning.
Organizing the Clutter
The bitter cold of winter means that many of us don’t spend as much time cleaning up after ourselves as we should, and clutter tends to build up in sheds, stables and barns during the coldest months of the year. Time spent organizing the shed now is time saved in the future. Ensure that your tools hang properly on the walls or are put away safely in drawers, and move all tack to the appropriate shelves. This is a great time for wiping down and restoring leather straps and surfaces. Consider adding shelving and doing other proactive maintenance work while the weather is nice and the horses can spend their time out grazing and basking while you get things done.
Saving Cherished Memories
Many barns and sheds become cluttered with things we’d rather not lose. Irreplaceable heirlooms of rodeos, fairs and rides with family may be shoved into every nook and cranny imaginable. Consider creating digital backups of old photo albums and moving the originals indoors or to a safety-deposit box. Take childhood toys and move them to an attic or crawlspace to keep them out of the weather. That includes hobby horses and similar doodads that now-grown children cherish but will never likely use again.
Preserving Crucial Records
Many horse owners find themselves shoving important documents in boxes and placing them in sheds or barns just to save storage space. These documents include everything from property deeds to vet bills and receipts for year-end accounting. We’ve all been guilty of poor records management from time to time, even if our Coggins test copies are displayed proudly with magnets on the fridge for easy access. Consider using airtight containers and archive-safe boxes if you have no other option but to store animal medical records and similar items in drafty areas.
Business records can also be stored offsite in a safety-deposit box or even moved entirely to the digital domain. This can save time and allow those working on the financial side of things to collaborate in real-time with others to keep funds flowing as they should. Otherwise, business owners should move them indoors and keep both “cloud” and physical disk copies handy for later access.
Once the space is decluttered, take the time to actually clean. Use horse-safe cleaning agents and keep them far from watering and feeding locations. Dust overhangs, and drive away spiders by removing all the cobwebs. Don’t worry about losing pest control this way. If the bugs can find a way back, so can the spiders. Replace any worn or damaged feeding troughs, and consider rounding off any troublesome corners that may have snagged clothes or gear over the last year.
Taking these steps now can ensure a year of healthy animals and happy humans. Proper cleaning, combined with making sure that feed is properly stored, eliminates pests and simplifies maintenance. This lets us get back to what we love most, spending time with our equine companions and enjoying the great outdoors.