8 Ways To Make Mucking Stalls Easy
- Much like everything related to horses, it’s a marathon and not the sprint game. Mucking stalls is no exception. There will be times when you need to strip a stall, scrub the walls, and start from scratch. In between those times, a few simple tips will make mucking that manure much easier.
Make sure your horse is somewhere else when you are mucking stalls.
- This tip comes from a safety standpoint, and one of convenience for you, the stall picker.
- The closest call I have seen is wheelbarrow handles poking into the stall and a horse bumping them. He gave himself a spook, but luckily he was smart enough not to panic.
- The naughtiest thing that I have witnessed is a horse jumping over the wheelbarrow into the barn aisle and taking off. Luckily again, he cleared it.
- The most horrible thing I have seen is a horse backing into the muck rake’s handle as it rested in the wheelbarrow. His person had stepped out for a sec and came back to an impaled horse. The wooden handle actually entered under the tail and went sideways, causing major hemorrhaging. Luckily, a vet was at the barn treating another horse when it happened.
- The safest place for your horse is out of the stall! But, it’s not always possible. In that case, keep your horse busy in one corner with a haynet. Keep your handles pointed into the barn aisle. Use a stall guard or chain at the top part of the door to discourage escapes if that’s the type of horse you have.
This wheelbarrow has a handle that is one piece in a U shape. Have I seen a horse get stuck there? YES.
Take out buckets and tubs before you muck.
- This helps create space for you to work, and any dust that you toss up will not land on your horse’s plates and bowls. This is also a handy way to force yourself to do some scrubbing! No horse wants to eat from a crusty bowl or drink from a slimy tub.
Don’t keep bedding under hay nets, tubs, or buckets.
- This just gives your horse a place to get drool, bits of hay, stray pellets, and his bedding all mixed up. And don’t even get me started on what happens when a horse eats wet hay over bedding. It only takes a day before that hay becomes rancid.
Use different types of bedding according to your horse’s habits and your preferences.
- My go-to combo is sawdust or wood pellets in pee spots, covered by shavings. The shavings are fluffy and comfortable, while the wood pellets are absorbent and any dust they make is covered.
- Another combo is wood pellets under straw. Or you could try gravel under the bedding if your stalls don’t have mats. Or what about adding cardboard shavings into the mix? Super absorbent and zero dust with cardboard.
- You have so may bedding options for your horse! And so many ways to arrange them.
Lots of bedding going on here! Pellets and shavings in the stall, stone dust in the attached paddock.
Bank the walls of your stalls with bedding.
- This can be a part of the deep litter bedding system, or you may just want to bank the walls without the deep part.
- With the deep litter bedding system, you keep extra fresh bedding packed the walls. The main part of the floor is deep, and you only pick out the wet parts and manure. Pull down some more bedding after each pick. Your horse’s weight will pack down the stall creating a really thick layer. It’s not a system for every barn, but can work for horse that are mostly tidy.
If your horse is a tornado, keep the middle thin until night.
- Tornado horses enjoy the sensation of being a bedding-blender and will generally mix everything up. It’s a pain to muck stalls when everything is smeared around, and much more bedding gets soiled than with a non-tornado horse.
- You can strip away MOST of the bedding in the middle of the stall and push it against the walls for messy horses. I would do this during the day when he won’t be laying down. Leave just enough to soak up urine, but not enough that he redecorates with it all. At night, make the bed deeper.
- I did this method when I was training a horse to only urinate outside. I used a fluffy pile in his outdoor area, and during the day, the stall was swept almost bare. At night, I would fluff up his bedding so he could sleep there. Of course he rarely did…
Now this is a lot of shavings banked up the wall!
Clean stalls multiple times a day
- This is one of my top tips for keeping horses clean as well. Nothing creates a dirty horse and leg skin issues faster than dirty bedding. You don’t have to do a deep clean multiple times a day, but if you can, scoop the poops as needed. You will also find that flies are not as much of an issue.
- If your horse is lucky enough to have a lot of outside time, never mind!
Use the best tools for the job.
- Stall cleaning is much easier when you have the best stall cleaning tools.
- There are lots of different styles of muck rakes, some with ergonomic handles and some with sides to prevent poops from rolling away, and many combinations in between. Use one that works for your body.
- Add a snow shovel into your stall cleaning routine for maximum wet spot removal. A rake can only pick up so much, but you can use a snow shovel to scrape the mats and then scoop up the last bits of urine-soaked shavings.
- You may be tempted to use a broom to sweep up urine spots. This will make your broom smell like urine, so use another broom for your barn aisle and tack room. It must be a dedicated “pee broom”!
- Scraping urine spots creates the perfect spot to add some zeolites for odor control to get rid of any residual ammonia smells from urine. Zeolites soak up moisture and obliterate harmful ammonia in stalls. You can cover the zeolite powder or granules with shavings without any issues, and zeolites are perfectly safe for horses.
Squishy wrapped muck rake with snow shovel buddy.
Wrap your tools with bicycle grip wrap for easy holding.
- This squishy sports tape for tennis rackets, golf clubs, and bicycle handles makes holding your stall cleaning tools much easier!
- You can also buy drill attachments that are brushes. Most come in a variety pack with different shapes of scrubby brush. I find that weekly cleaning of stall walls with this is more effective than a big clean every few months.
Happy stall cleaning!
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This style of shovel will scrape mats really well, and can also load up with shavings if you use them in bulk.
This is the BEST broom! The curved bristles get everything.
Ammonia eating stall freshener and moisture eater.
Grip tape for your stall cleaning tools!