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Stall Maintenance 101

Updated on October 18, 2011
DonnaCSmith profile image

Donna Campbell Smith is an author, freelance writer, and photographer. She has an AAS degree in equine tech and is a certified instructor.


The daily chore of stall cleaning is one of the mundane aspects of horse ownership, but it is very important to the health and well being of your horse. The purpose is to provide a clean and healthy environment, but it is also a time to observe your horse, looking for any indication of injury or sickness.

If you are cleaning the stall while the horse is in it, you need to train your horse to stand aside in his "safe spot." That is, he should stand to the side quietly and let you work around him, then obediently move to stand along the back wall when asked so you can clean the side where he was standing. Before you begin working observe your horse's eye expression and general attitude. Does he look alert and well? Look for changes in weight, coat sheen, and cleanliness. If he is wearing a blanket check to see it is on straight and all the buckles are fastened.

Next look at his legs for any swelling, and run your hands down each leg to feel for heat or swelling. Take note of any abnormalities.

Basic stall cleaning tools are a muck rake and wheelbarrow or muck bucket. There are a wide range of these two items on the market including ergonomic muck rakes and motorized wheelbarrows. For those who have rubber mats in their stalls there is a fork with rounded tines to prevent damaging the mats. It is made by the British company, FYNA-LITE. An alternative to the wheelbarrow is the garden cart, which comes in a variety of sizes.

With the horse in his safe spot, or turned out, separate the hay by putting the good hay piled in a clean corner and old and soiled hay in the wheelbarrow. Remove old grain and manure. Look for major wet spots and remove them. Horses usually urinate in the same spot. Mare's wet spot will be near the walls and geldings and stallions' wet spot will be in the center of the stall. Just think about the anatomy and this makes sense. There will also be a wet spot under the water bucket.

Now, start at one wall and turn over the shavings, removing any hidden manure until you've turned the whole stall. Place slightly soiled shavings over the major wet spot. Spread the rest of the shavings evenly over the stall; add new as needed. Maintain some moisture in the stalls to prevent inhalation of dust. Do this by mixing some of the slightly damp shavings with the new. Keep the stall bedded six to eight inches. If you have rubber stall mats you can cut that in half, with three to four inches of bedding.

Clean the feed and water buckets, wipe off the salt block and place it near the front of the stall. Re-hang the buckets and fill the water bucket. It is not really a good practice to use a hayrack because as the horse eats from the rack he will inhale dust from the hay. Horses are grazers, not browsers. Put their hay on the floor in a corner away from the water buckets so they will not contaminate their water with hay and dust.


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    • DonnaCSmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Campbell Smith 

      11 years ago from Central North Carolina

      Yep, but nothing beats doing the real work. Send them to a horse camp that teaches horsemanship - which is much more than riding.

      But, I love the smell;o) A well kept barn should never smell bad.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      11 years ago from California Gold Country

      I think this should be required reading for all the little girls who really want a horse of their own. If you want one bad enough ,it might not change any minds-- but at least they might know what they are in for.

      My granddaughter has a video horse game-- you can ride and train and jump-- but you also have to brush, feed, water and clean the stall to add some realism. It has no odor and you don't get dirt, so I guess it has some limits.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      I've helped since you were educated and it still wasn't fun.

    • DonnaCSmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Campbell Smith 

      11 years ago from Central North Carolina

      That was before I went to college to learn how to do it right;o)

    • dineane profile image


      11 years ago from North Carolina

      you make cleaning stall sound like alot more fun than it was when I was a kid :-)


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