There is a certain level of skill and artistic ability that is required when mucking a stall, and doing it right. To clarify, when I use the term “right”, I will be referring to what is most economical, least time-consuming and proper technique when it comes to your wallet, your operation, and your horse’s health. So here’s four tips on how to save you money, time, and from having to do an excessive cleaning overhaul every month.
Mistake #1: You Don’t Get All The Wet Shavings
I know, this is the worst part about mucking, but it’s simply something that has to be done. When you are mucking a stall, you should find, at minimum, one circular urine spot, per stall. Often, there will be more, but it all depends on how much water each horse is consuming. Corners, edges, and underneath the water buckets are all areas that can go overlooked.
If you are lucky and have stalls with mats, take the extra minute to sweep the mat free of any leftover wet shavings that escaped the pitchfork – this will allow the mat to air out and completely dry, which will help to dissipate that dreaded ammonia smell.
Mistake #2: You Aren’t Sweeping Back Underneath the Water Buckets
Water spills – it’s a fact of life (if your horse is a bucket-flipper, check out our article on a DIY solution for you!). By sweeping the shavings a foot or two away from the front of the stall and toward the back, you won’t be wasting expensive shavings on clean water spillage. Not to mention, when you bring your horse in and out of the stall, he is less likely to shuffle the shavings into the aisle – which is another mess well worth avoiding!
Mistake #3: You Are Putting New Shavings On Top
A trick I learned rather recently keeps the stall looking fresh and easier to clean over time is by putting new shavings on the bottom and shifting the old ones to the top. This will keep an even rotation for mucking. Soiled stains and wet shavings will sink to the bottom – piling on new shavings on top will only trap and add to the weight and breadth of the soiled area – something that I learned the hard way when stripped 14 stalls in Wellington post-season! Putting new shavings on the bottom also keeps stalls looking fresher, longer, by allowing the new shavings to surface naturally – which is what happens when your horse moves around the stall. To do this, simply muck the stall and pile all of the clean shavings up against the back of the stall or a wall of choice. Empty the fresh shavings onto the floor, and rake back the old shavings over the top.
Mistake #4: You Aren’t Taking a Broom to the Walls and Bars
Horizontal surfaces are not the only ones in need of cleaning. No one likes cobwebs, and to avoid having to spend countless hours every few months getting hoards of them down, it’s good practice to cobweb the stall bars and sweep the walls free of shaving remnants with a broom each time you muck.
By doing a little bit every day, you’re saving yourself a lot more time to accomplish other tasks. Some of these “mistakes” may seem little, but over time, they can add up to one big mess. Keeping up with barn cleanliness can be painful, but it doesn’t have to be dreadful. Following these tips will help you save time, money, and your sanity.