Monday, July 11, 2016

Barn tips for horse folk

Before I continue with my travelogue posts to Santa Cruz and points further south, I want to do a quick post with some tips for those of us who live with horses and clean barns as well as houses.


It's terrific in a bucket with water for dewebbing stall grills, wiping down dusty spots, soaking horse brushes, etc. I keep a big bottle in the barn and use it regularly. It's basically food grade so it can't hurt a horse if he licks it, and the peppermint is a naturally-friendly scent for the equine crowd. Peppermint is reputed to have insect-repelling qualities so I think it might help a little with summer pests. And it makes doing the chores much more pleasant. Aromatherapy for the humans too!

I have also used it in the power washer because it won't hurt a thing in the environment.


These are useful for the obvious reason but I discovered that mine, bought at our local Lowe's Home Improvement store, has a screw-on head. The light bulb changer attachment can be removed and I easily found a microfiber mop head that fits to dust way up in the rafters of the barn. Pair it with some peppermint soap and water and you can do a lot without a ladder, electricity, or much effort at all.


I have a custom vitamin mix made up by Horsetech and it comes in white buckets with durable handles and snap on lids. I couldn't throw these away and ended up with a growing stack of them in the feed room. For a long time I longed for the big beautiful dressage cone markers one sees online and in catalogs but they were very expensive. Then it hit me - I could remove the lids and handles from my collecting dust white buckets, turn them upside down, and apply stick on dressage letters. They work beautifully in the arena. Sometimes in spring I put flower pots on top, and in fall I have put pumpkins on them for a fun look. (Warning: ponies and donkeys will eat both flowers AND pumpkins!)

I keep spare stick on letters in the tack room - the buckets do eventually degrade in the constant sunlight and crack. But since I have a regular supply I simply replace them as needed.

I also use these buckets for water in the barn. The little donkeys couldn't reach hanging stall buckets so these worked perfectly for them. Then I discovered the horses prefer drinking from them too. They are easy to scrub and very durable in the barn.


I keep a jug in the feed room to add to fly spray, to mix with water as a horse bath rinse (I rarely use shampoo any more as I have learned their skin stays healthier without it), for hoof soak, and to scrub out water troughs, feed tubs, and water buckets.

During the summer months I add a bottle of Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar (with the mother) to the water in the big troughs to deter algae. I generally only do one trough at a time so they always have the choice between plain water and the vinegar water but I have noticed they seem to prefer the vinegar water!


This is a post of its own but in a nutshell, we have one huge pile at the back of our property and a bunch of smaller piles right where we need them. The small piles compost very quickly and can be spread out to fertilize the fields. If you use the extra fine pine or sawdust in your stalls the compost process is much faster. And if you bed the stalls with peat moss and mix in the extra fine pine it is even faster and a fantastic amendment to clay soils.

I also use stall waste and manure to repair bare areas in the fields. Spread it flat and thin, overseed with grass seed of your choice, and soon the bare spot will be gone.


An easy and effective mix: buy the natural concentrated equine fly spray of your choice - I use one that has essential oils that deter biting insects and use 1/4 bottle mixed with an ounce of Avon Skin So Soft bath oil, about 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, and the rest water. I think it works as well as the chemical stuff and it is very economical. 


We've been using them for years and they make a huge difference in our fly population. I buy them from Arbico Organics because they have terrific customer service and they do NOT sponsor abusive riders/trainers. Enough said.


I hang a few plain old-fashioned sticky strips in the barn to deal with the adult flies. (Fly predators target the larva). I also hang zip-lock bags filled with water along the back shelter of the barn. Reviews are mixed on whether this works or not, but I do see a decrease in the number of flying insects in the barn when I have the bags hanging.

HA gel:

Make your own. My Best Horse sells the powder and offer instructions on how to make the gel. Keil Bay gets it every day and I use the remnants in the little glass to rub into my face, neck and hands. The cost is next to nothing compared with the HA gel for horses and for women's faces! 

That's it for now. Share your best tip in the comments! 


Grey Horse Matters said...

Thanks for all the great tips. We use the Apple Cider Vinegar too by putting it into their food at night. It seems to be good for them with their various aches and pains and they love it. Never thought of using it in fly spray though. I'll have to try that, we did use the Avon Skin So Soft but not with the vinegar. We did put up a big Bat House and that helps a lot with the insects.

billie said...

Bat houses are a great idea - we had one at our old house but I don't know what happened to it when we moved!

Portia said...

What do the bags of water do? I've never heard of that, but I have an infestation of fruit flies in the house. I'm ready to try anything non-toxic and cheap. We already have bowls of cider vinegar out ant they are catching a lot of flies, but there are still more and more.

billie said...

The theory is that the water in the ziplock bags messes up the flies' ability to navigate and they fly away from the bags. Some people put a penny in the bags in addition to the water and swear that makes a difference. I just notice that there aren't as many flies underneath our barn shelter when I hang the bags.

I've been to restaurants that hang the bags around their outdoor seating areas and it seems to work.

I have ziplock bags coming in with my equine supplement orders and plenty of hay twine so I like being able to repurpose those for fly deterrence!

Portia said...

Thanks Billie. I guess they wouldn't really help me then. They would just send the flies to a different part of the house. I wonder if it works on mosquitos, though. I may try it the next time we have a picnic.

billie said...

Portia, if you have an entry door where they're coming in you might try hanging a bag outside that one door and see if it helps. One year we had flies getting in the house and I actually hung a sticky strip just inside that door. It did help - but I never tried the water bag.