Now that I have given you the information that you need to bathe and groom your horse like a professional, the next step is to help you learn not only the way in which you properly clean a horses stall, but to understand how important it is to offer your horse a very clean environment. To think that horses don’t care, as far as I am concerned, is a bit of a myth. So, so many times, I have acquired horses that have come from an unclean situation, and when I bring them into their new very clean stall, the first thing they do, without hesitation, is to get down and roll in the new shavings, and get up, get back down and roll again and again. This tells me that they are very happy not only to get down and roll and scratch, but the fact that they do this more than once encourages me to believe that this is an overwhelming sign of approval and happiness.
The first thing you need to do is grab your pitch fork, rake, broom, and a hard brush for cleaning your water buckets. Put them into your wheel barrel. Go to your stall, take down your water buckets, take them to an area that will not interfere with the integrity of your stall, and scrub them with your brush inside and outside. Water buckets or automatic waterers should be cleaned every day. Cleaning the outside of the buckets everyday is important as horses are kind of messy and slobber a lot. Take your tools out of your wheel barrel, set them at the opening of the stall where you can grab them easily. Put your wheel barrel in the entrance way of the stall, facing out with the handles facing you inside of the stall. Having wheel barrel handles sticking out is dangerous to horses passing by. Unfortunately, I saw a horse at the race track back into wheel barrel handles that were sticking out in the shed row. The horse got his legs entangled in the handles, fell backwards, wheel barrel on top of him, thrashing and blood flying. This was enough to teach me to NEVER have the handles sticking out of the stall. Turn facing the stall, pick up your piles of manure first. Go back, start at the front of the stall, either to your right or to your left, and begin to turn over your stall one pitch fork at a time. Usually the best way is to turn over all that is on the outside of the stall all the way around. If you are familiar with the areas where your horse urinates and if there are good shavings on top, move them away and save them as long as they are dry and clean. Take out all of the urine saturated shavings, continuing to turn over the entire stall. The reason for overturning the entire stall is because shavings can become moldy or mildewed in just a few days. You do not want your horse breathing in either urea from the urine, or mold or mildew. This can cause your horse to develop lung issues, allergies, or infections.
Also, there is the issue of small biscuits of manure that are spread throughout the stall. You will constantly be picking these out and you can throw the shavings up against the wall of the stall in small piles and some of these biscuits will roll down the sides of the small mounds and you can pick them up easily. After you feel that you have gotten your stall clean of manure, urine and small annoying biscuits that seem to breed and multiply, level your stall. This does not mean a big dip in the center of the stall. Take either your bag or your wheel barrel of shavings and empty them into the stall. I prefer to put them in the middle of the stall so I can spread them evenly throughout the stall with my rake. Personally, I prefer a deeply bedded stall for my horses. This of course is more costly and takes more time to clean. My theory is if you have performance horses, of which I consider athletes, the last thing you want is for them to be sleeping on a cold and or wet ground. This would not be the best for your horses’ muscles not to mention they sleep better on a softer bed.
Put your water buckets in the stall and fill with water, (if you have automatic waterers, take a sponge and small bucket, sweep the standing water quickly into the bucket wiping out as you go). Put your hay either in their hay rack or shake out in a pile in the corner of the stall. Sweep your shavings in the front of the stall and either rake or sweep outside of your stall. When I was a groom , the saying on the race track was that the stall is not done until the shed row was raked, and the outside of the stall was swept. It is important that you not only keep all areas clean but also organized. The more organized you are, the less likely you will be to forget a step in the proper daily care of your horse.
Cleaning stalls is not my favorite part of horse care but it feels good when you walk your horse into a very clean, clean smelling stall, knowing that your buddy will be comfortable. Bathing, grooming and cleaning of stalls are not just chores, they are acts of love.