Maybe you stockpile them under your kitchen sink, hoping to reuse them in some way on another day. Or maybe they’ve become your go-to “poop bags” on long walks with your dogs. Either way, the plastic bags you get at retail stores have a great many uses after they leave the storefront.
It’s worth noting that many cities and regions are banning plastic grocery bags, and encouraging shoppers to use more sustainable methods to hold their goods, like reusable cloth bags. So this might only apply to any extra dog poop bags you have lying around. But it’s still good to know that plastic bags can indeed be useful around the barn.
Here are 15 common and not-so-common methods to reuse those plastic bags around the barn.
Makeshift hoof-soaker. From icing to ward off laminitis to epsom salts for a good soak, you betcha you can fill a plastic grocery bag full of ice or liquid and stick a hoof in it, in a pinch. I recommend using a bucket in between the bag and the hoof to avoid a big mess. But you can “tie” the bag onto the horse’s leg, if you’ve got one who is calm and cooperative.
To sweat a leg. Similarly to soaking, a thin plastic grocery bag is a decent replacement for saran wrap if you’re out and need to sweat a leg. Use scissors to cut open the bag and wrap it around the leg like you would with any other thin plastic wrap, before applying a standing wrap or bandage.
Desensitizing. Plastic bags have been Enemy No. 1 to horses for as long as I can remember. Having them around the barn is certainly one way to desensitize your partner to their mysterious floating ways. And we’ve all the seen the videos of “trainers” tying a plastic bag to the end of a lunge whip. We don’t endorse this, but use them how you’d like at your own risk.
Easy-on boot trick. Here’s a fashion trick I learned from a muggle, which is totally applicable in the horse world. Put a plastic bag into a tricky tall boot that’s hard to get on. Hold the top of the bag at the opening of the boot with both hands, and slide your foot into it. Once your foot slides into place thanks to the slippery plastic, pull out the bag. The same trick can be used for those tricky pull-on bell boots (just put the plastic bag over the hoof) or compression socks/bandages for horses.
Yes, to pick up poop. So it’s the end of the horse show. You’ve already cleaned your horse’s stall and the truck is hooked up the trailer. In the few minutes you’ve left your horse alone in the stall, he’s managed to squeeze out one last little manure pile. Sigh. Instead of wheeling out the muck bucket and pitchfork again, you can kick those turds into a plastic bag and dispose of it quickly.
Avoid leaks. If you’re anything like me, anytime you dig out Thrush Buster from the bottom of your tack trunk, you’ll spend the next three days with semi-permanent purple stains all over your hands. I wrap my prone-to-stain ointments and liquids in plastic bags to avoid big messes inside my trunk, and to keep them from staining literally…. everything.
Makeshift glove. You’ve soaked your horse’s abscess-prone hoof in one plastic bag, and now you’re about to coat the bottom of it in Magic Cushion. Problem is, you don’t have any more latex gloves. Applying a sticky, smelly substance like ichthammol or Magic Cushion without properly covering your hands is a no-go. Here’s where a plastic bag can come in handy: put your hand in it like you would to scoop a dog poop on the sidewalk, and apply to the hoof accordingly.
Sleep in a little longer. You’re hauling your horse to the vet or to a clinic early in the morning, and the forecast calls for snow. Wrap the side-view mirrors on your truck in plastic bags the night before to avoid having to scrape ice or snow off them when you’re hitting the road at the crack of dawn.
Redneck boot covers. It’s dressage day and the horse show grounds are under water. It’s almost time for your warm-up, but first you have to make one last run to the porta-potty all the way on the other side of the stabling. You’re already dressed and ready to get on. Instead of changing out of your boots for the umpteenth time, tie some plastic baggies around your feet, hit the bathroom real quick, then climb on!
One-time use cooler. It sure can be messy, but for a short time, you could throw some ice into a plastic bag and use it to cart cold drinks to the ring.
Stirrup covers. It’s time to head home from a clinic, and you’e exhausted. Maybe your trailer doesn’t have a tack room, or you’re just so lazy you’re just shoving everything that’ll fit into the backseat of the truck. Your stirrups are already prone to scratching your expensive saddle but your tired brain isn’t working properly and you can’t find anything. Wrapping your stirrups in plastic bags will at least protect your saddle (some) until you get home.
To soak feed. Another great travel trick is to soak beet pulp in a plastic bag. Pour in the dried pellets or shreds, fill the bag appropriately with water and let it hang somewhere out of sight of your horse (preferably a dry but shaded tack stall to avoid spoiling). Then pour from the bag into his feed at dinner time.
Don’t stink up the car. At the end of a long ride, either at home or at a horse show, you can use a plastic bag to hold damp, sweaty and stinky clothing or pads. Double-bag and tie the spoiled fabric to contain the smell as best as you can. At least you’ll know when you get home which bags to empty straight into the washer first!
A temporary tail bag. You forgot your usual one at home. Don’t worry, a plastic bag will do the trick. This is a great hack especially for white tails, because even if a mare pees on it, the plastic keeps everything out. It’s probably not a great trick for a spooky horse though. It takes a good roll of tape to keep the plastic from crinkling and making noise.
Boot liners. Just like when you need to sweat a leg, a thin sleeve from a plastic bag can be used to line the inside of a boot if you’ve got a pair that are prone to rub.
There you have it. Just make sure to *recycle* your plastic grocery bags when they’re no longer needed.