Wait, with all the feeding, watering, and stall-cleaning, we actually have time to groom and exercise our horses, too? We can do not only that but also keep our quick post-work rides from turning into all-night affairs with these tips.
Keeping Horses Clean
For cleaner horses and faster grooming, clip in the winter, and turn out with a fly sheet in the summer, says Alexandra Beckstett, managing editor of The Horse. To further save time on grooming, invest in a vacuum. “Most horses tolerate it surprisingly well, and it keeps saddle pads cleaner, too,” she says, so you don’t have to wash them as often.
For equine leg protection, consider applying properly fitted boots rather than polo wraps. “They’re faster to put on and off and easy to hose down and clean after use,” says Beckstett.
Always Keep Spare Equipment Handy
Don’t waste time searching for things that commonly go missing or get dirty easily, she adds. Have a spare hoof pick (Where do they vanish to? Stephanie L. Church, The Horse‘s editor-in chief, combats their disappearance by hanging one with a loop of twine by her horse’s stall.), saddle pad, bell boot for the one that always goes missing, halter and lead rope, etc. “I always keep extra blanket straps on hand for horses that like to take their blankets apart,” said Jennifer Whittle, TheHorse.com web producer.
Keeping Tack Clean
You don’t need to give your tack a thorough cleaning every time you ride. “On the busiest of weeks, I just wipe down the bit after I ride and give all my tack a good cleaning on the weekend,” Beckstett admits. Michelle Anderson, digital managing editor of TheHorse.com, uses leather wipes or a microfiber cloth for quick tack touch ups between deep cleanings.
Strategic Turnout Schedules
Implement a strategic turnout schedule. Because Beckstett is an evening rider, during warm months her horse stays inside much of the day and gets turned out at night. If the horse is already inside when you arrive at the barn, he’s probably fairly clean, and when you’re done riding you can just hose him off, towel-dry his legs, and turn him out.
Other horses, such as Church’s gelding, make it a career of staying caked in mud no matter the turnout schedule. During rainy months, she’s found that a thorough grooming the day before a lesson and turnout with a light sheet (when it’s cool enough) the day-of cuts back on the elbow grease required during a time-crunched grooming.
Invest in an Industrial Fan
Invest in a good industrial fan (suitable for barn use) to help your horse dry faster after baths. An added bonus? It keeps air circulating and stops mosquitoes and biting flies from landing on the horses.
Simplify Equipment Storage
Store your horse show or trail riding equipment in something that is easy to move in and out of the horse trailer and barn. “We use a trunk with wheels, which makes it super easy to load up a lot of different tools and equipment, and it saves us several trips,” says Whittle.
Keep Your Tack Organized
Anderson recommends creating labels to identify bridle and halter hangers. “That way everything is in its place and easy to find,” she says. And spend the extra money (or find a friend who’s handy with a needle) on monogramming blankets so you can tell which one belongs to whom, particularly if your horses’ blankets match.
Check Your Tires!
Get in a routine of checking the air pressure in your horse trailer tires, and fill them up as necessary, says Whittle. “It’s much easier to do this ahead of time than when you are running late and need to hit the road!”
Ask for Help
You, your family, and friends know you’re committed to caring for your horses properly, no matter the time it takes. Sure, nothing really beats barn time for winding down after a long day … but it never hurts to use time-saving tips to buy more time for other horse and life activities. And if you find yourself in a pinch, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Anderson has even taught her husband to hook up the trailer when she’s running late to a riding lesson!
Erica Larson, The Horse’s news editor, adds, “If you’re in a particular rush on a certain day, see if your barn friends, significant other, children, or even nonhorsey friends and family might be willing to lend a hand. Even people with no horse experience can fill water buckets or sweep barn aisles while you’re bringing horses in or dishing out feed.”
Additional Time-Saving Horse Care Tips
You can find more time-saving horse care tips from our series on TheHorse.com!
- Time-Saving Tips: Feeding and Watering Horses
- Time-Saving Tips: Horse Barn Chores
- Time-Saving Tips: Equine Veterinary and Farrier Visits
This article was originally published in the June 2015 issue of The Horse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care.