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10 Tips For Efficient Stable Management

Apr 12, 2008
Whether you have one horse at home or a 50 horse training center, management is needed. This makes life easier, safer and less expensive.

STORING SUPPLIES

Organize grooming supplies to one area and keep them there. Have show grooming equipment in a large but portable toolbox...you can pull this out and have bands, comb, clippers, oil and other items needed for preparing for show. Keeping this stocked means less running around in the frantic pre-show preparations.

STORING HAY/FEED

Some people prefer an overhead loft, while others have a barn removed from the stall area for storage. Keeping hay in a separate building with just enough for several days or a month of hay (depending on size of your operation) can reduce your fire insurance and does reduce the risk. If fire breaks out in the hay stack and it's 300' from the barn, you lose the hay and the structure but the horses are safe.

Some farms have a stall set aside for this short term storage, others a corner of the barn, while others put 2-3 bales in front of each stall.

For grains keep a barrel or other container - something to put the grain in to that keeps it dry, clean, and inaccessible to bugs, rodents and pets. Keep supplies stocked.

SCHEDULES/PLANNING

Have dry erase boards posted near the grooming area, tack room, etc. On one have supplies you're low on - on another have a calendar schedule. Have a farrier and vet list.

Remember to schedule checking fire extinguishers, electrical boxes and other things often overlooked.

MANURE STORAGE

Manure is often considered a problem. There's too much of it, it can be a fly and fire hazard and it's never ending. Consider investing in equipment and hauling the manure to a pile 1/4 mile or so from the barn. Consider having compost piles, and once every six months or so take the tractor and stir it.

DAILY LOG

Consider keeping a daily log. Some might call this a journal - whatever you call it, it can be as simple as a notebook. List the date and note any jobs done, training notes and other things. Sometimes this can bring up things we miss otherwise.

Along with this have a "to do" list - you might keep this on a calendar specific for this purpose. When the shoer visits, schedule the next appointment and put it on the calendar. You can also note things like mowing pastures, cleaning fencerows, entry deadlines, stallion nomination deadlines and ordering the winter hay supply.

STORING BEDDING

Have a covered area for clean bedding near the barn. Some have a three sided shed near but not attached to the barn. If you have foaling mares, keep straw near the hay but accessible. Having to hunt for the straw under the hay is something probably not going to be welcome a week before foaling! Keep it clean, dry and accessible.

MAINTAIN SUPPLIES AND FACILITIES

Along with your supply list on the dry erase board, make the monthly trip to get everything on the list.

Plan ahead! If you know the shavings truck needs a week time frame be sure to guage your call to allow for that. Don't wait until you have 2 bales of hay to call the supplier. If you see on your schedule that the 1st is the deworming day, make sure you have enough dewormer for all the horses needing it. Maintaining supplies can mean saving money - and if you have the luxury of shopping when you want to rather than *have* to you can sometimes get things on sale.

Keep a "to do" list of minor repairs. Have a schedule for cleaning water troughs in pastures and thoroughly cleaning waterers in the barn. Fix things when small and save major repairs. Maintain tractors and other equipment on a regular basis.

FIRE PREVENTION

Keeping hay and bedding safely stored helps towards fire prevention. Sprinklers, proper storage of flammables, keeping vehicles out of the hay area (even hot tailpipes on four wheelers can start a fire), storing fuel outside of the barn, keeping charged fire extinguishers stationed throughout the barn, developing a fire evacuation plan and keeping brush trimmed back away from barns all combine to increase safety. On a monthly basis inspect wiring and electrical boxes. Keep cobwebs and dust knocked down. If you have a washer and dryer in the barn, clean the lint trap of the dryer after EVERY LOAD! Post no smoking signs and enforce them.

Along with fire prevention - make a plan for evacuation. Have halters for each horse on every door along with a lead rope. Have pastures or paddocks planned so that in an extreme emergency there's room for stallions separated and to put mares and geldings in a safe enclosure away from the fire.

SECURITY

For horses, trailers, equipment and tack have security measures in place. Cameras help but even with cameras if someone enters the barn with a ski mask you are helpless to detect who it is.

Mark equipment. While you don't have to disfigure it, make markings that identify it as *YOURS*. Brand an identification number on the under side of trailer floors. On the underside of the cantle or horn place an identifying mark of some sort that is unique.

Tack sales can mean peddling quickly stolen equipment. Horses have been stolen and found due to good security measures. Take monthly photos of all horses...some change from winter to summer coat, for example. Photograph scars, brands, unique markings on the horse with a focused plan. These don't change.

Have set barn hours if you have a public stable.

PASTURES

Do regular pasture maintenance. This includes mowing, any herbicides you use (make sure to prominently display "DO NOT TURN OUT" horses in fields that have been sprayed according to directions on the label)! This can be scheduled on the board and a simple laminated sign (have several made) saying "FIELD CLOSED" that you put on the gate. This can be invaluable not only for herbicides but if a fence is down it assures no horse is put in the field until the next day when you fix the fence.

With the rising costs take good care to manage your pastures as a viable nutrition source, which they are! Seed them when needed, keep them mowed, keep them free of trash, drag them regularly to disperse manure piles.

Actively look for ways to cut costs and manage better. Work smarter not harder.

Stables need not be fancy to be neat and safe. A well groomed horse takes time and a few essentials to present.
About the Author
Ron Petracek was raised in southern Idaho with horses and the great outdoors. With this continued passion He now shares through a a vast equine network. Learn more by clicking the links below. Amazing Equine Network System - Buy Sell or trade anything equine related. Get More Horse Classified coverage and distribution with less cost and work. Hot Equine Social Community
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