Well spring is officially here this week. And I thought it would be a good idea to get ready for riding season. If you are like me, and don’t have access to an indoor arena, you are probably excited about the better weather coming. And if you are like me, you are a planner. You will want to have everything ready to go so you can get out and work with your horse.
So I want to share 15 ways to get your barn ready for spring, a giving you extra time in the saddle.
Get Rid Of The Clutter
This is a great place to start. Declutter your barn. You can pull everything out, and really look at everything you have. Do you use it? Is it safe? Does it need to be replaced? Take everything out, and decide what you need to keep, and what you don’t. It also helps to have a notebook and pen to write down things you may need to replace.
You can separate everything into piles, things to keep, things to see, things to donate. One thing I like to do to keep my tack collection in check is to go through what I have, and for every new thing I buy, two things need to go away. This helps me to keep my collection in check.
Bring In Some Fresh Scents
This may sound silly. But for me, there are certain scents that make me happy. Horses, leather, good hay and shavings are some of my favorite scents. But I also love essential oils. So this is the time of year when I bring in some essential oil scents.
I absolutely love the Bug Pellent Hang Ups. So I stock up on the refill cartridges for the hangers I already have. And then I replace all of the hanger cartridges.
The scent that fills my little red barn and my horse stalls is incredible. And it helps to keep flying insects out of my barn and tack room. Having a well organized tack room, with the awesome scent of mixed essential oils is pure heaven for me.
Wash All Of Your Saddle Pads
When I was taking photos of my new Weatherbeeta half pad, I noticed how dirty my LeMieux saddle pad was (and my saddle). So spring time is a great time to get those saddle pads clean! It isn’t difficult to wash most saddle pads. I just throw mine in the washer, and then hang them outside to dry.
I have to wash my fancy fleece pad all by itself. But still, having clean saddle pads is always a good thing.
Then you can figure out a way to hang all those beautiful pads so they are ready to go when the weather decides to cooperate.
Clean All Of Your Tack
Can you see why I told you to take everything out of your tack room (or locker) now? Once you have everything pulled out, set up a cleaning station. If you need some motivation to do this, and the weather is mild, do it in your barn, or outside. And really clean everything. Saddles, bridles, bits, boots, and well everything else that you have. Make it sparkle!
And don’t put everything back quite yet, you want to have your tack room all ready and clean before you put everything back in it’s place.
During the winter, all of my tack lives inside my house. And before I take everything back outside to the tack room, I make sure everything is clean and conditioned. This way everything is ready for when I get a few moments to myself and I can ride.
Add More Storage
I am always looking at different ways to not only add more storage to my little red barn, but to make the most of the space that I have. So my tack/feed room has undergone many, many transformations in my quest to have the most effective area to store my tack, and my feed.
And when I am at a loss for ideas, I will often do a google search for dream tack rooms, or small tack rooms. I find it helpful to motivate my brain into finding ways to make the most of my space. And my latest find is a wall blanket rack.
I did find a really cool portable blanket rack that you can buy from Lyons Woodworking. And I thought this would be really cool to make. But that would mean I have to buy more wood on order to make it. I don’t like to buy more stuff if I don’t need it. Ok, I do like to buy stuff. But I would rather buy horse tack and gadgets to test out than buying wood for building a new piece of furniture.
So the other night while I was filling hay bags, I was looking at the front end of my barn, and wondering how could I utilize the space better. My decision was to remove the bulky pieces of furniture and add more wall organization. Unfortunately, this doe mean adding some sort of covering to the bare walls. And by covering up the bare 2 x 4’s with a solid surface means I have more room to hang stuff on the walls.
It also gives me more opportunity to rearrange the furniture I have in my tack room to utilize the space to it’s fullest potential.
And while I don’t want to get rid of the furniture quite yet, I did move it back to the back of the little red barn because they do offer more storage space for everything I have collected.
Organize Your Grooming Kits
How many grooming kits do you have? I have 5 grooming totes, and 1 ultimate grooming tote. Yes, that’s a lot. But I find if I keep my grooming totes organized,it’s easier.
So take all of your grooming tools, and grooming boxes and dump everything out. Clean out your kits and then organize them.
If you have more than one kit, organize what you will need in each kit. You could have a shedding season kit, a wintertime grooming kit, a show kit, and well whatever other kind of kit you want.
Clean All The Buckets
Keeping your horses buckets clean is important. And well, during the winter I do get lazy about this.
But take the time to clean your horse’s buckets. Or if it’s easier to replace them do it.
For my horses, inside their stalls I have the insulated bucket holders. And while they aren’t the greatest for keeping the water ice free I do like having them as an added water source for my horses.
But the buckets that go inside are 2 years old. The handles are cracked, and Frisby has decided to turn his bucket into a chew toy. I found that the Home Depot 5 gallon buckets fit great and are affordable at $3.25 each. So I bought some new buckets for their stalls. I will figure out something I can use the old buckets for later.
Organize Your Tack Room
Ok, so I kind of went over this with adding storage. But it’s important enough to talk about twice.
If everything you have in your tack room has a place to live, and you always put it back, it will keep your tack room neat and tidy. And I don’t know about you, but I love looking at an organized space no matter where it is.
And while it may not be a traditional way to organize, I found wood to make use of the walls that I have. Then I can hang up blankets…
I am so excited about how I was able to make this happen! And this is why I don’t throw things away. OK, I didn’t really throw it away because it was a chore. BUT I recycled some old wood flooring that we had and used it to make a solid wall in my little red barn.
I was able to make the space more usable, and look decent too. And I didn’t throw away something that could be repurposed for another project.
It not only makes my tack room look good, but it adds another level of insulation to the little red barn.
Add A Grooming Station
If you have a space to tie and groom your horse, it makes tacking up a lot easier. When we first moved to our home over 10 years ago it was pretty bare. And I didn’t believe in myself enough to add improvements. So I would tie Frisby to my horse trailer for tacking up. And it worked. I just kept my tack and grooming stuff in my horse trailer and would take him out to the trailer to groom and tack up.
But I wanted a ‘real’ hitching post. So I decided to make one. And while this is very helpful for a lot of reasons, there was something missing, footing. The ground gets so muddy, and irregular. And I could have put gravel, or just continued to make due but that’s not how I work.
So I invested $50.00 and added two stall mats. It gives me a clean area to groom my horses. And if it snows I can simply wipe away the moisture and the mats are good as new!
I also added a screw eye and made a portable saddle rack with a hook for my bridle. I can bring out my grooming tote, saddle and bridle and have everything in one place to tack my horses up. It really is a time saver when it comes to getting my horse ready to ride.
Hang Up Some Art
Sometimes adding some art to the walls really makes the space. You can find ready made signs at the dollar store, or you can add some of your favorite photos of your horse. These can also help others identify your horses.
Or make some of your own art and hang it on the walls, like this equestrian themed dream catcher I made.
Install New Hooks
When it comes to a tack room, or feed room, you can never have enough hooks. No matter how many hooks I have, I find that I can always use more.
And think about where you are putting them to help you stay efficient as well as giving everything a home. And if you put them somewhere that they don’t really work, move them.
Stock Up On The Essentials
If you find yourself running out of fly spray, or hoof oil during the summer, stock up on it now. This is also a good time to go through your first aid kit and make sure it is in good shape. Horses always seem to find a way of getting hurt. So it’s important to have a well stocked first aid kit in your barn.
Go through your first aid kit and make sure you have what you need. If you don’t have it, buy it. This is one part of my horse care I don’t skimp on. I am fortunate enough that I work in a medical office. I am also certified in advanced wound care. And when we have products and dressings at work that are expired I bring them home. Even if a dressing is expired, it will still help my horses.
Refresh Your Jumps
If you have your own jumps, this is a great time to go through your equipment. And if you wanted to refresh them, or try a new striping pattern on your rails this is a great time to do it.
Since I was cleaning everything out of my tack room, and moving some stuff into my jump locker, I took some of my rails into my garage so I could paint them. My garage is more like my workshop. And the only vehicle that has a permanent spot is our tractor.
So it makes sense to bring on my jumps and give them a new paint job. Because soon I will be riding (and jumping) and I would rather spend the warm days in my arena instead of in my garage.
And while it’s still cold, it isn’t as cold as it was a month ago. So when it’s snowing outside, I can be in my garage dreaming of afternoon schooling sessions while I am painting and updating my jumps.
Get Your Arena In Shape
If you are lucky enough to have a riding arena, this is a great time to get it ready for the upcoming riding season.
When we built our arena last year, I didn’t get to use it as much as I would have liked to. I wasn’t able to ride as much last summer because of having surgery in late May. So I wasn’t to concerned with not having enough footing in my arena.
But this summer I have big plans for my horses. Which means I will be using the arena a lot. And we need more sand.
When we made the arena, we drug out the sand that we had to fill the larger space. But this made the footing very shallow. And the sand that we had was really breaking down and getting very dusty. SO much so that I bought soil conditioner to help keep the dust down. That was a wasted purchase honestly.
In about a month we will be buying about 10 tons of sand for my arena. But until then, I want to make the most of the ground I have. And right now there is a lot of mud and divets from the horses being out there and playing in the yucky ground.
And even though it’s a little sloppy, I want to even everything out. So that means it’s time to bust out the tractor and arena drag and the ripper. I love the ripper tool. It helps to rip through the dirt, and then the drag helps to even everything out. And while it isn’t perfect, it is a lot better than what it was. So I’ll take it. That way if the opportunity does present itself that I can ride for a bit, my arena will be ready.
Deep Clean The Stalls
This is also a great time to really clean out your stalls, and in my case, my paddocks. The temperature has risen enough that all of the snow is melting, turning my horses pens into a poop-mud mess. I say poop mud because that’s what it is, poop mud.
I am fairly good about keeping my horses stalls clean for them to have a dry place to live in the winter. But the manure freezes to the ground making it really difficult to keep clean.
But when the weather somewhat cooperates, my husband helps me and we use the tractor to get the paddocks looking MUCH better.
Then I get excited and clean the stall walls, and really deep clean their stalls.
Another project I have for this summer is to buy stall mats for their stalls. But this will cost me around $800.00 for the mats and to bring in some gravel to level everything out. And it will be a big project. So right now I am just keeping their stalls as clean as I can until I can afford to get the stalls how I want them to be.
Bring On The Summer
While it’s not quite time to be having daily riding time with my boys, it is time to prepare for it. Because preparing for it now will make the summer even better. So instead of just wishing the warmer weather to get here, I am staying busy in preparation for it.
Hopefully I have given you some ideas of what you can do while you are waiting for better weather too. And now that you have a list of things to do, what are you waiting for? Get out there and get ready for spring!