If your horse lives in a stall for any part of his day, you'll have to keep it clean. Unclean stalls attract insects and could encourage hoof problems like thrush. Breathing ammonia from urine saturated bedding can be harmful to your horse's or pony's sensitive lungs. It's unpleasant to work in and smelly for you too. Stall cleaning should be a daily task. It usually takes about twenty minutes to give a stall a quick cleaning, but will take longer if it has been left more than one day.
Here's How to Clean a Stall:
- Dress for the Job
Dress in appropriate clothing. Gloves can prevent blisters. Urine can erode the stitching on the soles of leather riding boots. Save yourself boot cleaning time by changing into work or rubber boots.
- Clear the Work Area
Take your horse out of the stall. A good time to muck out is when your horse is in his pasture. If you can't put him out, put him in an empty stall. Remove all the feed tubs, water buckets and stall toys.
- Assemble Your Tools
Get your cleaning tools and park your wheelbarrow or cart close to the stall door facing in the direction you'll want to go when the barrow is full. It's easier to maneuver an empty wheelbarrow than a full one.
- Dig In
If the stall is bedded with straw use a pitchfork to remove manure and wet or soiled bedding. If shavings or sawdust have been used, use the shavings fork to remove manure and wet bedding. Fork the manure into the wheelbarrow or cart. Sometimes it's easier to pick up wet bedding with a shovel.
- Head for the Manure Pile
Wheel the filled barrow and dump out the contents in the assigned area (the manure pile). It's tempting to fill the wheelbarrow really high, but this can make it hard to push and easy to tip. It's frustrating having to clean up manure a second time because you've tipped over the wheelbarrow!
- Do a Thorough Job
Continue cleaning out the dirty bedding. Scrape the unsoiled bedding to one side, and check that there is not wet or manure soiled bedding hiding underneath.
- Even The Surface
Once you've removed all the manure and wet bedding, spread the cleaner bedding back over the whole stall area. Check around the edges of the stall as clean bedding sometimes gets tossed against the walls as the horse moves around. This leaves a thinner area in the middle or where the horse usually stands. Distribute the bedding evenly.
- Add Clean Bedding
Add new bedding to replace any that has been removed. You'll either add a whole bale of straw, or portions of one. Fluff it with a pitchfork. Some stables have truckloads of loose shavings piled, or some buy bags of compacted shavings. Use your wheelbarrow to transport fresh shavings to the stall, or open a bag and fluff the compacted shavings with the shavings fork.
- How Thick To Bed
Gauge how thick to bed by what type of stall flooring is under the bedding and what season it is. If there is thick rubber matting on the stall floors, bedding can be thinner. On concrete, especially during cold weather, add more bedding to provide padding and urine absorption. Sand floors are easier on the horses's legs, but may get saturated with urine quickly if not enough bedding is put down.
- Weekly Maintenance
You may want to completely strip a stall occasionally. In this case, keep filling your wheelbarrow until the stall floor is bare. Use the shovel to scrape up remnants of bedding and the broom to sweep it clean. You may want to put down odor control solution or stable disinfectant. Let the floor dry before re-bedding.
- Keep Alleys and Doors Clear
After you've finished cleaning and bedding the stall, use the broom to sweep up spilled manure, straw or shavings in alleys and doorways. Scoop up the sweepings into the shovel and toss them into the manure pile. Manure, chaff and bedding pushed out a doorway will turn into a muddy mess in wet weather.
- Prepare Tools for Next Use
Put all the tools away where they won't cause a tripping hazard.
- Ready for Your Horse
Replace feed tubs, buckets and toys so the stall will be ready for your horse when he comes in.
- Always turn the wheelbarrow pointing in the direction you want to go out in before you fill it up. You’re less likely to tip it if you don’t make sharp turns.
- Inexpensive hangers keep cleaning tools safely out of the way.
- Some people leave a thick padding of bedding for warmth and only clean the top surface during winter months.
- Use the broom to knock down spider webs every so often.
- Inexpensive riding gloves with the sticky rubber dots are handy for handling tools and shavings bags without slipping.
What You Need:
- A wheelbarrow or cart
- Pitch fork (Five pronged is best.)
- A shavings fork for moving shavings or sawdust
- A broad shovel
- A stable broom
- Gloves (optional)
- Rubber boots (optional)