The doldrums of winter are over, and spring is just around the corner. We’re looking forward to the excitement of show season, the joy of longer rides, and the thrill of new trails with old friends!
Once the spring forecast shows a few days of warm, sunny weather, it’s a good idea to start preparing your horse barn for the season. We know you already clean your horse stalls on a daily basis, but spring cleaning is an opportunity to address issues that can build up over the winter months.
Get Rid of Harmful Dust, Bacteria & Viruses
Winter is a time when not just humans get sick more often, but your horses do too. This is because they spend more time indoors, where the air quality can be lacking. In colder weather, there isn’t as much airflow through barns because windows and doors stay closed more often, and the stagnant air becomes a breeding ground for germs. And while sunlight’s ultraviolet light has the power to kill bacteria with its disinfectant properties, less sunshine makes its way into horse stalls during the winter months as it does during other seasons.
Beyond bacteria, excessive dust can wreak havoc on your horses’ respiratory system. It’s important to remove dust throughout the barn regularly, but spring is the perfect time to really clear the air by opening the windows and taking advantage of the extra light during the day.
Provide a More Comfortable Living Space
Horses spend a good portion of their lives inside their stalls. Giving them a clean, comfortable place to live is an important way you care for and love your animals well. By winter’s end, barns tend to be filled with excess hay and additional provisions that ensured your horses’ comfort during the cold season. However, when temperatures rise, horses can become agitated with everything that was added to help them manage the weather. Horses are happier in a well-maintained living space, and a good spring cleaning helps them enjoy the time they’re inside.
How to Spring Clean Your Horse Stalls
To keep your horses happy, healthy, and content, use these 12 steps for spring cleaning your horse stalls.
1. Prepare the area
Put your horses out to enjoy the sunshine so you can diligently clean the entire space. Open all the windows and doors to allow sunlight and fresh air to fill the barn. Be sure to choose a day with warm temperatures, lots of sun, and a gentle breeze to make the cleaning process as efficient and pleasant as possible.
2. Gather your supplies
Before you start, you’ll want to make sure you have everything you need and it’s within reach. Here’s what we recommend: a wheelbarrow or bucket for collecting solid waste and used bedding, a pitchfork, a shovel, a broom or vacuum, fresh bedding, a stiff scrub brush, a 10% bleach solution, dishwashing detergent, and a hose/sprayer.
3. Remove everything
Strip the stall bare, and remove any movable objects, including buckets, mats, hay nets, etc. As you remove objects, inspect them for damage and replace items if necessary. Getting everything out of the stall allows you to do a deep clean of the space and take notice of anything that might need some attention. It’s easy to overlook items that have become worn down over the winter months.
4. Scrub everything you removed:
Use hot, soapy water and scrub everything that was once inside the stall. Give items a thorough rinse. Scrub again with a 10% bleach solution, let them air dry, then scrub again with hot, soapy water and rinse thoroughly.
Allow everything to thoroughly air dry while you clean the rest of the stall. Mats tend to hold extra moisture, so it’s best to hang them up to dry. You can speed up the drying process by putting items outside in the sun.
5. Clean feeders, water systems, and other permanent fixtures:
Not everything can be removed easily from the stall. Use this time to scrub feed bins, water tanks, and other permanent fixtures, which may have been difficult to thoroughly sanitize in the winter months. Maintaining clean water and food receptacles promotes better health for your horses. In fact, horses will drink noticeably more water from a fresh container. You can also decrease pests and germs in the stall by properly cleaning all feeding sources.
6. Remove cobwebs and dust from all surfaces (even rafters)
Removing cobwebs is not just important for aesthetic purposes or your horses’ safety. Cobwebs and dust are also known to be fire hazards, especially when gathered near heating sources. They can quickly spread flames from one stall to another, feeding the fire as it moves throughout the barn.
Getting rid of unsightly dust and cobwebs is something you should do regularly, but spring cleaning is an excellent time to take care of them too. Using a vacuum instead of a broom to remove spider webs and dust is a great way to reduce excessive particles from lingering in the air during cleaning.
7. Disinfect the stall
Once the stall is completely empty, it’s time to disinfect the walls and floor. First, spray a 10% bleach solution to get rid of any biofilm — slimy surfaces where bacteria like to hang out. Once the walls and floors have completely dried, use a disinfectant and wash the entire area. Use a stiff scrub brush and dishwashing detergent to fully clean the stall. Rinse and let the space dry thoroughly.
8. Make any necessary repairs to the stall:
Wear and tear in any space is bound to happen over time. Take advantage of the empty stall to notice any cracks, holes, or worn-down features that need some attention. Take a look at the floors too. Do sections need to be leveled out or repaired? Now is the time to do it. Taking care of little issues before they require major repairs can keep your stalls in tip-top shape and make them last longer.
9. Replace bug repellents
Keeping your horses comfortable and safe means protecting them against pests such as flies and mosquitoes. Spring is the perfect time to reevaluate and replace your bug repellent system. Whether you use sprays, pellets, powders, strips, or traps, it’s important to consider their effectiveness and make any necessary changes before summertime.
10. Check the barn’s wiring
Sometimes rodents can cause damage over the winter months by chewing through wires and cords in a barn. Faulty wiring can lead to fires, so it’s important to take care of any issues you discover. It’s easier to take care of these issues during warmer months than during freezing winter days.
11. Stock up on essentials
Spring is a good time to evaluate your supplies. You can set yourself up for success by taking inventory of what you have and identifying what you might need for the next season or even next winter. Restock any supplies that are running low. Put away items you won’t need until next winter, and bring out the essentials for the warmer months. Staying organized between seasons will keep you from scrambling and searching to find what you need.
12. Refinish the walls if necessary
Adding an extra layer of finish to a stall can not only enhance the natural beauty of the wood, but also lock out moisture. This helps to maintain the integrity of the wood, keeping your stalls in good shape for a longer time.
Kick the Winter Doldrums
Giving your horses a fresh space to live can lift their spirits and improve the overall quality of their lives as well as the aesthetics of your barn. Here are a few final reminders for deep cleaning this spring.
- Whenever you do a deep clean, make sure your horses are outside and away from the swirling spray of particles throughout the air. Give their space time to settle after cleaning before bringing your horses back into their stalls.
- Don’t forget to disinfect your cleaning supplies (brushes, brooms, etc.) between cleaning each stall. Otherwise, germs can spread quickly from one stall to the next.
- Remember to let everything completely air dry before re-bedding your stalls. Moisture creates a breeding ground for germs and parasites. All that work of deep cleaning goes out the window if germs are immediately reintroduced to the space.
Your Horses’ Happiness
Doing a deep clean this spring will help maintain a safe, healthy environment for your horses where they can thrive and enjoy maximum happiness. The team at Blackwood Equestrian Stalls understands how important that is to you.
Barns and stalls that are well built and maintained are a reflection of the care and attention you give your horses. To learn more about how Blackwood can help you build custom horse stalls to help your horses live their best lives, contact us today.