93 Easy Barn Hacks for Equestrians!
These are my favorite barn hacks for equestrians – for horse grooming, for barn management, for medicating your horse, and more!
Skip ahead if you really want to:
- Wear a bandana under your helmet to keep things smooth. This also soaks up some of your noggin sweat in the winter. A stinky helmet lining bandana is also a lot easier to clean than your helmet’s insides! Although, there are some helmet companies that have removable liners that you can launder.
- Invest in an ear cover for cold weather. Thinner wool styles can fit under your helmet and keep your ears warm. Be sure you can still hear things when you are wearing it! Smartwool makes on that is super thin and wonderfully warm.
- For fans of the layered look at the barn, a hook on a post near the arena gives your clothes a chance to stay put when you are riding and stripping layers at the same time. It also keeps your layers less likely to blow away. We know that no horse ever has been spooked by that.
Is there such a thing as too many handy hooks?
- Wear nylon pantyhose or silk base layers in cold weather. They are thin enough to fit under breeches and help keep you warm! You can also find lined breeches, these usually have some sort of amazing fuzz on the insides. I have them in both full seat and knee patch versions and they help tremendously with cutting the cold wind!
- Ski pants are light enough and baggy enough to wear over your boots and breeches when you are not riding. Zippers along the outside making for easy on and easy off. You can also invest in overalls that are thick, durable, and suitable for the North Pole.
- If you are in need of help with zippers, this tip is for you. Use a little loop of zip tie to your zipper pulls for easy on and easy off. This is helpful if you have arthritis, are wearing thick gloves, or need some extra grip. Or if your zipper is broken.
- Also, for zippers that like to get stuck, use some Magic Sheen or grooming oil to slick things up and get your zippers moving again. You may also find that anything soaps works here, too.
- Wear nitrile exam gloves under your riding or grooming gloves in bad or cold weather. These definitely keep your fingers warm, and they are thin, so you don’t lose too much dexterity and you can still feel your horse while grooming. Your riding gloves could also be lined with nitrile gloves if you like.
Lining your riding gloves also works to keep your fingers warm in the winter.
- If you are breaking in a new pair of riding or paddock boots, you can wear wet socks or dampen the inside of your new boots. As they dry around your foot, they will conform to your shape.
- You can prevent blisters as you break in new boots by using a body glide stick, or pop tack cleaning sponges between you and the boots. These friction-blocking sticks are wonderful for your horse too, they can help prevent rubs and saddle or girth sores.
- Nylon pantyhose are GREAT for buffing a wicked shine onto leather boots. No fancy directions here – just wad up a pair and buff riding boots after they are leaned. If you use boot polish, buff after you apply this colored layer.
- Use polo wraps as half chaps if you forget yours or they grew legs and walked away. It’s also a great way to get a feel of what it’s like to exercise with your legs bandaged. Food for thought.
- If your gloves are out partying with your half chaps, use some vet wrap around your ring and middle fingers. Please use the most awesome color you can. Vet wrap is also great to use over your fingers if you are pulling a mane or braiding your horse. It’s really simple – it’s just a blister blocker.
- To create hot towels in the cooler weather for stain removal, use a crockpot or instant hot water kettle. You can also use the hot water for warming bits, cleaning tack, mixing meds, and adding water to your horse’s meals. I can’t stress this enough – an instant hot kettle is GOLD at the barn.
- The paper lining of your horse’s feed bags can be used as poultice paper! Then you can use the outer shell as a trash can liner. More on poultice here. You can also use feed bags to move flakes of hay around or to line the chicken coop.
Use the paper from this feed bag!
- Pick up some sticky-backed velcro at the craft store. Place your sticky-backed velcro on the inside of cabinets or doors (or another vertical surface) to stick your horse’s boots onto. Now you have floor to ceiling storage.
- If you have a need to make your horse’s food and leave it out for a bit, use a shower cap to keep the flies out. No one wants fly poop in their lunch. My barn uses washcloths, which work just as well. If you have a cabinet that can hold larger buckets, that’s an option, too.
- Use your horse socks that you bought for scratches for a few other uses at the barn. These socks double as girth covers, fly boots, and mud repelling socks the night before a show. Your horse will stomp less and stay clean!
Silver Whinnys from Sox for Horses can also double as a girth cover in a pinch.
- Keep panty liners in your first aid kit for instant horse-size band-aids. These are not as bulky as diapers and can be easier to wrap on your horse. Any lady will know that these come in all sizes and thicknesses, so you have lots of options here.
- But have a stash of diapers on hand at the barn anyway! Size five works well for most horses. Diapers can be great bandages for wounds, they serve as wraps for hoof poultice or packing, and can be wet and frozen for icing weird horse leg areas, like fetlocks and knees.
- Tape some tabs on your small tubes of eye meds and other hard to squish things. The tabs can be easily labeled and it helps you smush the contents up for easy application. Be sure you can still see what the medication is, and note any expiration dates on the tape.
These ointments are now super easy to use.
- When you need to crush pills and make a paste for your horse, try this instead of mixing a paste in a cup and then trying to spoon it into a syringe. Put all of the pills into your dosing syringe, then suction some water into the syringe. Shake and wait for your pills to dissolve in the syringe. No mess to clean and all of the medication is ready to go!
No waste when you mix your horse’s meds in the syringe!
- Use a different container to hold your very gooey and stain-y thrush medications. Ketchup bottles with the fine tip work really well. I have also used spray bottles from the home improvement store, but the pumps can clog a bit. You can also use a syringe, good for added control when you are applying messy and runny thrush medications.
- Veggie baby foods are great mixers for gross-tasting medicines! Be sure that you pick a flavor that your horse will like, like carrot or apple, and stay away from broccoli and other veggies that are toxic to horses. A list of toxic treats can be found here!
- Hang a safety mirror in your horse’s stall and trailer if he gets nervous alone. This is also good for horses that are on stall rest or horses that weave. This usually helps a horse generally feel better when they can see another horse. If your horse is food aggressive, hang the mirror away from his hay pile so he doesn’t pick a fight with himself. These are also great to use in the horse trailer for shows or in your tack room, too.
- Use colored duct tape to make tabs on blanket hardware, which makes things much easier to grab and wrangle with gloves on. Colored duct tape can also help identify what blanket goes with each horse if your barn is color-coded. There are LOADS of colors to pick from.
Blanket parts are easier to grab when you extend ’em a bit.
- Use a lingerie bag to wash and dry your polo wraps. This prevents the dreaded “spaghetti” effect of untangling your polo wraps. If you prefer a huge laundry challenge, that’s fine, too!
- Speaking of polo wraps, use a pair of scissors to cut a design into the ends of matching polo wraps. You will always be able to match up the correct pairs, even after they are rolled. You can cut a notch out, clip off one of the corners, create a zig-zag, etc.
- You can also label the ends of polo wraps with numbers or letters or names. This makes finding the pairs much easier.
This is an easy way to pair up matching polo wraps. Some polo wraps are embroidered, which makes them easy to pair.
- Use Shapley’s No. 1 Light Oil to coat the bottom of your horse’s hooves to help prevent snowballs from forming. Incidentally, this grooming oil is great to also add condition and shine to your horse’s coarse winter coat.
- Plain white vinegar is a great post shampoo rinse to get rid of all suds, add some shine, and repel some bugs. Some bugs seem to like vinegar, though, like gnats.
- Use baling twine as a sweat scraper. It’s nice because it can go over lumpy, bumpy, bony areas. And baling twine is everywhere. Just hold it taut over your horse and squeegee along his body. You will want to use a towel on his face and legs, but this gets most of it off.
- Cut static when vacuuming your horse by spritzing the inside of the nozzle with water. You may need to repeat for the other side of your horse. You can also cut static under blankets by rubbing the lining with dryer sheets.
- Use some vaseline to soften chestnuts and ergots if they have reached prehistoric size. Then you can peel them off with your fingers. There’s rarely a reason to trim these weird growths. If your horse is scraping his other legs with his chestnuts and ergots, then be sure to keep them soft and trimmed.
- When you are braiding your horse, use a rubber band on your comb to mark the width of each braid. Your finished braids will all be perfect! Well, at least they will all be the same width.
- Use some detangler, grooming oil, or shine product on your horse’s clean body before clipping. This helps the clippers slide through the hair and prevents some of the hair from landing all over you! Sheen products can be awesome, but some have a lot of additional alcohol which may be drying.
- When clipping your horse, toss your hot blades on an ice pack to cool down quickly. Be sure to wipe any oil or spray lube from the ice pack before it goes back in the freezer. Also know that hot clipper blades are a sign your clippers are working really hard, which happens if they need sharpening or your horse is not clean enough. If you use coolant, follow up with oil. In fact, you can never really use too much oil. Just go ahead and oil again.
- If your clipper blades are circling the drain, retire them to your grooming box. Use old clipper blades to shorten a mane. Backcomb (aka rat up) the hair and use the old clipper blade to chop off the end of the hair. Some clipper blades can only be sharpened once or twice, then they can live on in your grooming kit as a mane tool.
- Skip the bucket and sponge when you are bathing your horse, use your grooming glove as is. Pour a little shampoo into your palm and smear across your horse to get the bubbles going after you have wet your horse.
- During bath time, use your sweat scraper to remove excess suds and shampoo before you rinse. You will save water and time! If you are exceptionally coordinated, you can rinse and scrape at the same time to help get rid of all shampoo remnants.
- Use the flat or fan setting on your hose nozzle to liquid squeegee the dirt from your horse. It may also be called the flat or angle setting. So satisfying when you are rinsing your horse! This is especially good for cleaning legs. You might even be able to skip the shampoo and just use a nozzle to clean dirty legs.
- Grab some shop towels. From the auto section. Shop towels are much more absorbent than paper towels, and great for making your own grooming wipes.
- Use your favorite hoof dressing on the sole of your horse’s hooves to help dirt, mud, poop, snow, you name it, have a harder time sticking. It also makes cleaning your horse’s hooves easier.
- Pick up some baby wipes, too. These guys have a million uses. I would be lying if said I don’t use them to tidy up before going out in public after the barn. For a more complete list, see this article here on the uses of baby wipes. Opt for sensitive skin or no-scent-added varieties just in case your horse’s skin is sensitive.
- Using a dish brush with soap in the handle is a great way to scrub buckets or horse legs. For buckets and feed tubs, fill with dish soap. For legs, fill your brush with shampoo.
- Use a sled to move hay around when there’s snow on the ground. You can also use a sled to slide around a manure bin to do some pick up without having to carry anything. Also, go sledding.
- Rub a bar of soap (Irish Spring is particularly potent) on all things that your horse chews or wants to chew or thinks about chewing. There are chewing deterrents at the tack shop. Some include ingredients that may test positive at shows, so do your research! Soap will obviously wash off, but it’s cheap and super easy to do.
- Keep some white vinegar around to eat the rust from buckles, snaps, horseshoes that you want to save, gate chains, really anything with a bit of rust. White vinegar is also amazing at rinsing shampoo residue away and helping to brighten a horse’s tail.
- In the summer, create a bit of evaporative cooling in your horse trailer by tossing some ice cubes on the shavings. Use a lot of ice. You might also find that this keeps a bit of dust down in your trailer.
- If you are updating your barn’s mats, and have some old ones, cut them up and use them as big and wide drains under eaves of buildings. You’ll keep the earth from washing away, and you can better keep the water away from your barns. It’s also weed control up against your buildings, so there’s less gardening to do.
- Save the desiccant packs from your supplements to store with your rarely used tack. This will help keep mold and mildew away. You may think it’s going to take forever to collect these tiny packs, but it doesn’t. You can also toss a few into your helmet or tack trunk for some moisture control.
- Spray your snow shovel with your favorite horse shine product, like Magic Sheen, to prevent snow from sticking as you shovel around the barn. I have “stolen” horse grooming supplies from the barn for this very purpose.
- Put your compost pile to work by spreading a thick layer over the ground that covers pipes. This keeps everything toasty if your pipes are not buried as deeply as they should be and they freeze in the winter.
Compost! Keeping the pipes warm.
- Bring an old yoga mat to the barn – great to cut up and cover saddle racks with, keeps the dents out of your saddle’s flocking and padding. There are loads of other uses for old yoga mats at the barn, many cats and dogs like to rest on them.
- Use bike tape on your stall cleaning tools for easy grip, especially in winter, and no blisters if you can’t find your gloves. The squish provided by the grip tape is also just nice for cold hands or stiff hands.
- Use a brush attachment (instead of a flat head or phillips head) on your screw gun to deep clean buckets, feeders, troughs, trailers, stall walls, you name it. These turn your screw gun into a scrubbing machine! Also, give one of these babies to your roomie for the holidays for a not-so-subtle hint.
- Use the little trays from mushroom containers to hold and catch the spills from your favorite hoof dressings. Or leak bottles. Or a cracked bottle. Or a drippy bottle. Really anything that needs some containment.
- Use baling twine as a saw to cut through other bailing twine if you don’t have a knife handy. Hang onto each end of the V-shaped piece and quickly saw back and forth. Tah-Dah! The twine holding your bale together will pop open.
- Use dryer sheets as rodent and fly repellents around the barn. I have heard that you can also get rid of static cling and electric shocks in your horse blankets by rubbing the underside of your blankets with a dryer sheet. BUT – some flies love perfumes and sweet smells, so this may backfire. Go forth and experiment.
- To keep shavings inside the stall, you can create a soft, hoof-friendly lip with a piece of stall mat. You can also use the bristle end of a push broom. Some horses like to pull at bristles so this strip of mat might work better.
These rice hulls are held in with the bristles of a push broom.
- Use a tire rim as a hose holder to make the most awkward horse barn chore of rolling the hose up easier. This may end up being trickier to find than an actual hose holder, but at least you’re upcycling?
- Use a PVC tube with a closed end as a whip holder. Mount on a wall or post and drill a hole in the bottom for drainage. You can always make a closed end with duct tape, you don’t have to find a PVC cap.
- Toss limp carrots into a bucket of cold water to revive them. Only takes a little bit of time! Throw out or compost any slimy carrots. This actually works for just about any piece of veggie. You can even perk up your salads at home in some cold water.
- When it’s super rainy and yucky, you can use big chunky mulch at gates. This is also great for shows, just outside of the stalls. Help keep the mud and water outside and not in your horse’s house. You can also use the handle end of a muckrake or broom to carve some shallow channels away from the show stall if you needed to.
- Use a pool skimmer to clean water troughs. No long handle needed. This is especially handy after a windy day, anytime in fall, or if there are a lot of bugs floating around.
- Hang a hoof pick on your horse’s stall door to pick his feet before you exit the stall! This keeps your barn aisle tidier and creates less mess to sweep later. Hoof picks are also great for installing screw eyes at horse shows and leveraging open tubs.
- Use a stall freshener made from zeolites under your horse’s bedding. It’s super absorbent and eliminates all ammonia! This also makes your bedding last longer…. dollars saved. Zeolites also help with fly control and creating traction on ice.
- Keep a tennis ball on the end of the cross ties to avoid the super annoying CLANG. Also, it may give your barn dogs something to stare at for hours. This can also discourage a mouthy horse from chewing the cross ties when he’s being groomed.
- Grab some address stickers from the home improvement store to label buckets and trunks and stuff. This helps prevent theft and also makes sure you are not making your horse’s dinner in the tack cleaning bucket.
- Invest in some shelving for horse shows. This allows you to see all of your items without digging through a trunk. Boldly labeled buckets also help you stay organized and prevent you from mixing a mash in the soapy tack cleaning bucket.
- Start your packing with a list! You can find the ULTIMATE horse show packing list here, just ignore or mark out what you don’t need and pack the rest. This prevents you from forgetting your saddle or horse. It happens.
- Bring along some white vinegar to rinse on your horse after a trip to the wash rack. This adds shine and helps remove any remaining suds if you shampoo while you are at the horse show.
- Use a large syringe (about 60cc) to rinse your horse’s mouth before you bridle. This prevents any mouth foam from being green or grainy and landing on your white breeches or your horse’s chrome.
No green foam if you rinse your horse’s mouth.
- Bring about two feet of sturdy chain from the hardware store and a durable lock to secure your tack and grooming stall. Some stalls are just fine with a lock, some can only be chained, so bring both. Some shows have security, some don’t so plan accordingly.
- Bring a laundry bag and a stain remover stick. Pre-treat any stains on your show clothes or horse gear, and toss in the laundry bag to keep it separated from clean things.
- Stall chains make great storage when tacked up to a wall. You can hang saddle pads, boots, and wraps.
- Or, clip your cross ties together to do the same thing. If there’s anything you can do to annoy your friends at a show, it’s to string some cross ties together. This acts as a place for them to clothesline themselves and also you can hang things from it to dry.
- Those handy wine bags at the store that conveniently hold a six pack of adult grape juice also hold a six pack of horse grooming stuff. Super for shows, and you can hang it, freeing up shelf space.
- Turn any bulb into a socket with this handy attachment from the hardware store – great for shows! You never really know what to expect at a new horse show venue, so be prepared. Pair this with an extension cord!
Screw this into any light socket and have an instant outlet instead.
- Stitch some sheepskin halter fuzzies on your saddle pads piping if your horse gets rubs. Or find a saddle pad that doesn’t have piping. Your saddle’s cantle should not rest on the edge of the saddle pad or numnah.
- Bell boots that you pull on can test your arm muscles and your patience. Soak them in some hot water before you use them so they are more pliable! For horses that need to live in bell boots, the pull on varieties are often better.
- Skip spending big bucks for fluffy furry earplugs for your horse, just get some soft little cat toys instead. Not the mouse-shaped ones, the round ones. Look for round cat toys that are soft, perhaps fuzzy, and definitely, don’t have a squeaker or bell inside.
- Use bright duct tape to mark halters for turnout. This is mostly for grazing muzzles. The bright colors can be seen from a distance, so you can see is everyone is still wearing muzzle. You can also color code each horse so he wears the right one.
- If you are looking for a handy way to remove horse hair from saddle pads, your clothing, wool coolers, horse blankets, your hair, and generally the universe, reach for a piece of shelf liner. The type that is a bit squashy and sticky. Cut into a little square about 8” x 8” or so and use this to remove all sorts of horse hair from all sorts of places.
- When you are making repairs to your horse stuff, grab a handy repair kit that has all sorts of huge needles. The larger needles are easier to thread, and strong enough to go through tough barn things. Use dental floss as thread for extra holding power.
- Keep a hoof pick on a carabiner. Handily hooks to your belt loop, a hook outside your horse’s stall, or the paddock gate. You should always have a hoof pick handy! Incidentally, carabiners are wonderful to have anyway.
- If your horse gets dented hairs from his blanket on his chest, use a leg quilt over the blanket’s neck opening to alleviate this. This is also good for rubbed out manes and withers. You shouldn’t need another blanket to hold it in. If it comes out, at least it’s soft and maybe your horse will use that as a pillow and not a pile of manure.
Tuck a quilt between your horse and blanket for some rub protection.
- Use a few rubber braiding bands as bridle keepers until you can make it to the tack store to pick up some replacement keepers. There’s no reason for loose bridle leather to be flapping around!
- Use a dog hair slicker brush to fluff up sheepskin and fleece. And maybe your dog, too! This is especially helpful after the sheepskin has dried, the sweat and crunch are easy to remove. If you launder your sheepskin horse stuff, you can re-fluff the fuzzy parts after it has dried.
- Hooks – For all things that need to be hung. Big giant hooks are great for blankets if you are not the folding type. Hooks that dangle from chains are great for tack cleaning stations. You don’t have to use hooks from the tack shop – hit the hardware store, too.
GIANT hooks are good for blankets.
- Pipe insulation – One, for pipes. Two, for covering metal saddle racks so your flocking and saddle don’t get dented. Three, use the thicker pipe insulation to stuff in your tall boots.
- Vice grips – This is never a better way to move mats than vice grips. Or anything else bulky, cumbersome and heavy you need to drag around.
- Window insulator kits – These amazing sheets of plastic that you stick and blow-dry onto a window create a draft-proof window. This keeps things more climate controlled, which may help with mold and mildew in tack rooms.
- It’s a well-known fact that for most of us, coffee makes the world go ‘round. Sacrifice just a few of your gourmet drinks for some old-fashioned supermarket brand (OMG GASP WHAT) and you have a super container to store pre-measured feed. Great to take on the road, great for use at home.
This once contained coffee, now it’s used for feed that needs a cover.
If you want to pick up some barn and horse supplies, here are some handy links for you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, but it’s ZERO extra cents to you. And I thank you!
The best muzzle in the land – order one here! Also in raspberry and black colors.
HandsOn Grooming Gloves – also, use code PEG for some free shipping!