SPringCleaning

Maybe I’m rushing it, but the forecast is for warm, okay seasonally warm, weather for the next two weeks. It’s only five weeks before it’s officially spring and only four weeks before that National Holiday for horse people – Daylight Savings Time – begins.

In the midst of all this excitement about being able to spend more time with the horses, a very important event needs to take place – Get everything ready! Or, it’s spring cleaning time! Time to go through everything we stashed or meant to take care of as the weather got colder, and never got around to. Time to make sure everything is in working order and supplies are available.

Let’s start with the trust supply cabinet

Toss any supplement or med that has an expiration date on it. Some may be good for up to six months to a year past the expiration date, but, unless you are certain or your vet said it’s okay – toss it. Some meds lose their effectiveness and are useless.

Is it cloudy, solidified, or otherwise deteriorated? Shampoos, conditioners, and other liquid supplies may just go bad after sitting on the shelf for a while. If it doesn’t look right or smell right – toss it!

Never touched, never used. We all buy things that we think we’ll use on our horse and only use it once, or it floats to the back of the cabinet and we forget about it. If it falls into either of these categories AND it is still good – box it and donate it to a horse shelter.

Tack room or trunk

Take a good look at your lead lines, halters, saddles pads, and other equipment. Is it frayed beyond repair? Toss it. Can it be fixed? Keep it but put a date on it. If it hasn’t been fixed in a period of time, let’s say two months, either toss it or donate it – provided it is still safe or okay to use.

Wash or clean what you will keep. Nothing is better than starting the riding season with clean, fresh equipment! You may also want to make a list of the items that need to be replaced.

Set up a polish day with your barn buddies. Take an afternoon to clean your saddle and bridle before the season starts.

And don’t forget the grooming bucket! This is actually a monthly chore at our barn – but it belongs here as well. Clean those brushes and disinfect them. Your horse is only has clean as the brushes you use.

Trailer

If you haul your horse to shows or trails, now is the time to get the trailer checked out. Take it to a reliable mechanic who will check the wiring, brakes, lights, and tires. Too often the barn mice make a meal on exposed wiring. Tires will dry rot even if you hardly use your trailer.

Have the flooring checked, too. Urine and manure can get under the mats and cause the trailer floor to deteriorate. And give it a good wash and wax. Now, you are set to go!

Barn work

Again, clearing cobwebs need to be done monthly, but it is a high priority on the spring cleaning list. The spiders were certainly busy while we were away. Cobwebs collect dust and are a fire hazard, so, here’s another “barn party” to coordinate. Long handled brooms and friends will help complete this job quickly.

How about you? How will you get ready for spring this year?

Linda Watson is the owner and head riding instructor at Pretty Pony Pastures. Visit the website for details on all the lessons and activities at this facility.
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There is a lost art in horsemanship – ground tying. The cowboys had to have horses that would stand when the reins were dropped so they could dismount and do their work, knowing that the horse was not going to wander off. Today we have cross-ties, tie-rings and a gamut of devices to keep our horses from wandering off. But how many horses will stand when the reins or lead-line is dropped?

At our barn, ground tying is one of the skills that we insist our horses learn. It’s not hard to teach. Most horses would rather stand than work, so we use that to our advantage.

Last week, I was so pleased to see two of our green horses just standing while their young trainers walked around the arena. Not only did the horse stand while the young lady moved away, but, each of the young ladies were able to circle the horse, then the arena, with the horse only moving her head to see where her leader was.

Talk about establishing a bond! The girls were very proud of their horses as well. Carrots for everyone for a job well done!


to our barn.

Those of you who knew Tom, are familiar with his way of welcoming everyone who entered our barn.  Sometimes I still hear him greeting the riders when they come in for their lessons, even though it’s just in my mind.   So I wanted a way to have his presence felt, even for those who never knew him.

While I was going through some stuff, I saw his boots…they’re old boots…I think he wore them every day for years.  The sides are sagging, one boot can hardly stay upright, but, they’re his boots.  Scuffed, well-used, and comfortable.  Perfect!

Fall arrangement

Christmas arrangement

I decided to put them in the corner by the entrance from the barn to the arena and fill them with flowers as the seasons change.  Look at them as you enter the arena and tell me if you don’t feel that warm welcome in your heart.


Getting started on setting the gradeThe frost laws are up and the equipment can move.  What a wonderful thought.  We couldn’t get started on leveling the ground for the barn until the frost laws were removed.  They were up on Monday and the excavater was here on Friday delivering his dozer.  He spent most of Friday and Saturday moving the dirt to make sure the grade was level with the arena.

Personally, I didn’t care.  But the builder had this great idea.  Connect the arena with the stall barn so that if the weather is bad I can bring the horses into the stalls to dry off, then, move them to the arena without going into the bad weather.  It will also keep the snow and mud out of the travel area.  So, the new stall barn and arena have to be at the same grade or the idea won’t work.

 

Working on the gradeOf course, I give lessons on Saturday morning.  I figured the horses would be okay since we use our tractor around them all the time.  Ooops!  The dozer is louder than the tractor.  When he was leveling the dirt next to the arena wall, I could feel the vibration.  Although we didn’t get any spooks out of the horses, they were a bit on edge.  For safety, everyone rode on lead-line.  That made the riders (and parents) feel better as well.

Moving the dirt

 

With the grade ready, now all we need is the material for the barn to get started.  That should be here shortly!


We are excited!  This winter we decided that we needed to bring our horses home.  For eight years we have been boarding our Haflingers next door.  Okay, in the country, next door is two parcels or about a quarter mile away.  The barn is good and solid, but the trek over is getting more difficult, especially when we get dumped on with snow, or like this year, snow over ice!  Plus, our therapeutic riding program is expanding.  The fifteen minutes that I need to change horses between classes could be done in five if they were living on our land.

So, we are spending our kids’ inheritance, and contracted to put up a stall barn next to the arena.  There won’t be any camera’s, we won’t be on tv, no one will be shouting “Move the bus!” but what we hope is that the community will get involved and help us with some of the other work that needs to be done – like putting up new fences, lights, plumbing, building stalls, and all those other things that I haven’t even thought of…but will as the project goes along.

We are planning to do some of the preliminary work done in the next week or so.  The contruction people will be here at the end of April to start building the stall barn.  After that will come the fencing and everything else I mentioned.

Arena in the fieldI know this scene will change.  Soon the stall barn will be along the length of the arena and the horses will be in the pastures.  I hope to capture the activities and progress and post them here. 

If you live in southeast Michigan, come on over and join the fun…otherwise, check back periodically to see our progress.  Nothing like a little barn raising to get the folks together!