by Marilyn Munzert

As days lengthen, pastures thaw and horses’ coats shed, it is easy to get swept up in the excitement of riding. However, spring is an optimal time to complete equipment and facility maintenance projects, which can have a positive impact on operations throughout the year.

The way a barn looks when you walk in – how the aisles are swept or raked, how the stalls are kept, fresh water buckets all the time, how the horses look – it’s all a reflection of the quality of care.

Spring cleaning is one important element of the bigger picture of effective horse care. The broad goal is the attending to the projects that could not be dealt with during winter months to prepare for a successful spring and summer session of horse care, facility use, riding and training.

The following projects can be adapted to facilities of any shape or size.

  • Inspect and deep-clean stalls. Stalls and indoor buckets should be kept as clean and fresh as possible throughout the winter. By stripping stalls and scrubbing walls on a regular basis year-round, as well as removing cobwebs regularly, the spring cleaning is easier.

For those planning to especially refresh stalls in the spring, it is advisable to completely strip all stalls and even remove rubber mats, giving everything a chance to dry after a long winter.

  • Clean winter blankets and seal them in plastic so they will be ready for use in the fall.
  • Encourage group effort. Ask boarders to do their own spring cleaning of tack trunks and personalized space. To keep the barn clean and tidy, encourage the boarders to keep their stuff inside their tack trunks
  • Clean and repair tack. Dampness followed by dry winter weather and constant temperature changes is hard on leather tack. Springtime is a good time to do a super cleaning of saddles, bridles and other equipment.
  • Clean and inspect water buckets, troughs and heaters. People who rely on portable heated water buckets, submergible heater or de-icers in water troughs, should remove this equipment from use as soon as possible in the spring. Equipment should be checked carefully for any signs of wear and cleaned thoroughly according to manufacturer’s directions. Troughs should be scrubbed with bleach and rinsed well.
  • Prepare for travel. Whether a horse trailer has been in use throughout the winter or sitting dormant, early spring is the perfect time to send it to a qualified mechanic for an annual maintenance check. In addition to having your trailer serviced, it’s important to maintain the roads and driveways you need to get in and out of your property. Freezing and thawing throughout the winter can take its toll on fields, driveways and parking lots. These areas always need to be checked and repaired as needed in the spring.
  • Power-wash and paint barns and fences. Power-wash the barns, stalls and indoor arena to get the dust from winter off.
  • Attend to arena footing by watering with sprinklers and dragging with a tractor and arena groomer.
  • Focus on overall maintenance. A main priority is anything that has to do with the appearance of the facility and the use by the public. Such things as flowerbeds, hanging baskets of flowers, and pots of flowers make the grounds beautiful, which are appreciated by your clients.