Cleaning a horse’s stall is one of the most important aspects of protecting the health and happiness of your horse. Keeping your barn in tip-top shape is required if you own a horse. This requires mucking the stalls (removing animal waste from the bedding), raking, cleaning, and more.
As horse people, we want to ensure that our horses have the best and live their best lives. Keep reading to learn 20+ years’ worth of horse stall cleaning tips and tricks.
Do You Have to Clean a Horse Stall Each Day?
One of my personal favorite ways to make sure that my horse is happy, healthy, and comfortable is by deep cleaning my stalls and barn on a daily basis.
Deep cleaning your barn every day may sound overkill, but I will show you a way to keep your barn constantly in a state of deep cleanliness.
It is less time-consuming than you may think to properly clean your horse stall if you know how but remember ownership requires a lot of dedication, cleaning, and love.
What Does Mucking a Stall Mean?
Mucking a stall simply means grabbing a pitchfork (or similar tool) and removing your horse’s manure from the bedding in their stall.
Yes, mucking is dirty, smelly work but it is a requirement of owning and caring for a horse. Don’t worry, you will get used to it!
Supplies Needed to Clean a Horse Stall
Horse stall and barn cleaning is so much fun because there is a plethora of stuff you can get to obtain a squeaky-clean barn.
I am going to list the basic supplies and some of the extras in case you want to try them out.
I have found that having a system of supplies and the right tools is useful, especially if you are cleaning many stalls each day.
- Wheelbarrow or muck bucket. The Mullers is one of my personal favorites, especially for larger barns and stall cleaning jobs. The Rubbermaid wheelbarrow is also a good choice.
- Bedding- there are many options to choose from; you can find which one works best for you, your storage area/facility, and your horse.
- Stable disinfectants, odor eliminator powder, pine sol, and bleach.
- Broom and dustpan. I like to have a large broom and dustpan, and a handheld-sized set as well.
- Leaf blower. To blow the isles of your barn once you are done. A small leafblower with a removable battery works best.
- Rubber boots/ muck boots
- Scrub brush and sponges. Good ole dishwashing equipment works well. Having sponges and a baby bottle scrub brush is a good place to start.
- Empty spray bottles. Mix bleach or pine sol solutions for spraying down the stalls and rubber mats.
How to Dress When Cleaning a Horse Stall
Before you get going cleaning stalls, you will want to make sure you are dressed appropriately.
Sometimes, you will not be able to remove your horse or the horses in your care out of their stalls.
Make sure that you have a decent pair of muck boots or protective boots on, and always use good horse sense.
Whatever you do, and even if your horse is not in their stall when you are cleaning, do not wear flip-flops.
For the best results and the ability to clean the entire stall easily, turnout time for your horse during the cleaning process is ideal.
Types of Horse Stall Bedding
There are so many types and brands of bedding available. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and there may even be more options than you previously imagined.
You will want to carefully select the right bedding for your horse, especially if they have any respiratory health problems.
Make sure to NEVER use stove pellets in a horse’s stall. Animal bedding is sold as animal bedding for a reason.
There may be unknown plastics, metals, or toxins within the pellets or product if it is not listed for animal use.
Horse Bedding Types Pros and Cons
Wood-based pelleted bedding
These are a great option for just about any horse.
You can place them in a clean stall and apply half a bucket of water on them to allow them to puff up into shavings or let them bread down by the horses walking across them naturally.
They last between 1-3 days, depending on the last time that the stall was stripped and sanitized and if you applied on a single bag or a full bedding’s worth.
The other benefit of pellets is the ability to easily and tightly store many bags.
They are able to be purchased individually or by pallet load, which makes them much more cost-effective than many of the other choices for bedding.
Wood shavings or sawdust
Wood shavings or sawdust is another option for bedding and can be fine for most horses.
You will want to check where the company gets its wood, which types they use (some wood types such as oak or red maple are toxic to horses), and how they store their product.
A downside of shavings or sawdust is that you need a very large area to store the sawdust or shavings.
Larger woodchips are not as suitable for bedding as they are not absorbent and may cause sores on the horse’s legs if they lay down.
Shaving and sawdust tend to be more expensive, and you will more than likely need to schedule truckloads of shavings to be delivered.
Straw is another common choice for bedding stalls and is primarily seen in pregnant mares or mares that are currently foaling.
Straw is not absorbent and tricky to clean. It is ideal for newborn foals.
Is Hay the Same as Straw?
No, hay is used to feed animals and straw is used for bedding in a stall.
Hemp has recently become a new bedding option. It is dust-free, absorbant, and compostable but can vary in product quality.
Make sure you find a reliable source for hemp-based bedding material.
Peat moss is loved by many and also disliked by many.
It is higher-priced and must be purchased at a local gardening store, but it has many benefits for horses with respiratory problems.
Peat moss can appear very dusty, but the particles usually do not affect any horses.
Shredded paper and cardboard
Paper and cardboard can be a good option, but ensure that there are no dyes or inks in the paper. You will also want to ensure the quality is good and that the product is mold-free.
Things to Look Out For That Could Be Dangerous to Your Horse
Horses are accident-prone, and just about anything can become a potential hazard.
When in the stall, make sure there are no hard edges, sharp objects, low-set hay nets, or feeding racks a foot could get stuck in, and ensure everything is locked or set as it should be.
Horse Stall Cleaning Safety
You want to always make sure you and your horse are safe. You can do this by being aware of a horse’s blind spots and body language and removing them from the stall if possible.
If not possible, make sure you watch your horse and react according to its body language.
How to Make Your Horse Stalls Safe
Horses have a tendency to get hurt in their stalls. Here is a short list of ways to lessen the chance of a stall-related injury to your horse.
- Wrap all bucket hooks with electric tape to prevent snagging.
- Hammer in flush all nails that are sticking out from the wood.
- Check and repair uneven spots or mats.
Can a Horse Die From Being Cast?
Yes, a horse can die from being cast. It is very important to not let a horse stay in this position for very long.
If you find a horse in this dangerous predicament you should call your veterinarian immediately or get help from someone experienced with horse care.
How to Clean a Horse Stall Step-by-Step Instructions
- If possible, remove your horse from the stall. You can cross-tie them or turn them out in the pasture.
- Bring your wheelbarrow, shavings fork, pitchfork, and broom/ dustpan over to the stall and place them outside of the stall.
- Move your wheelbarrow to the entrance of the dirty stall and grab your pitchfork. Pick up the manure and remove the urine spots and urine-saturated bedding.
Take your shovel and scrape the stall floor where the horse peed to remove any leftover urine and dirty bedding.
- If you plan on stripping the stall, you can use the shovel to remove the old and wet bedding.
Pay attention to the side of the stall and edges of the stall where icky bedding can build up.
Once you have stripped or removed the wet areas and dirty bedding, allow the stall to dry and air out.
- Use diluted bleach water, pine sol, or other barn sanitizers to spray down the sides of the stall and the stall mats.
Sprinkle the floor and focus on the pee spots, and put down PDZ or another stall freshener.
This will limit the ammonia build-up and aid in keeping your shavings and bedding fresher for longer.
- Apply clean bedding or dry shaving. I personally like between two- five inches of bedding in my horse’s stall.
Did You Know?
If your horse is prone to getting cast add shavings up the sides of the walls to help.
- Scrub buckets, sweep the entranceway, and wipe down the bars or metal in the stalls.
- You have completed your stall cleaning and have a perfectly clean stall. Empty your wheelbarrow in the horse manure pile away from your barn.
Everyday Tasks for a Healthy Horse
In addition to cleaning stalls every day, you should take down any water buckets or feed buckets/ pans and scrub them. Clean stalls are not the only important part of regular cleaning.
At one point in time, I had a mare that would only drink water if her buckets were scrubbed and freshly bleached out every day.
How to Keep Your Horse Happy in a Stall
You may not realize it, but even the most minute of tasks can make a world of difference in your horse’s comfort and contentment levels.
Every time you clean your horse’s stall, you will want to make sure you check your stall mats for any wet spots building up underneath the mat.
If the stall mats have been fitted properly, they will all lie down nicely together. You may notice that the edges of the stall mat may be lifting up or appear lumpy.
You will want to pick these ends up and scrape out any bedding or excrement that has built up underneath on the floor of the stall.
Related Horse Stall Cleaning Questions
What if I am out of town and my horse’s stall doesn’t get cleaned daily?
One of the best ways to protect your horse’s health is by cleaning stalls on a regular basis or daily.
If you have to miss a day, your horse probably will not suffer, but you can always speak to your barn owner to arrange extra care when you are gone.
Often you can find a volunteer to offer assistance while you are gone. Remember, people like to care for horses!
How do I find someone to take care of my horse when I am gone?
You can check online listings; your local feedstore, trainers, vets, farrier, or clubs may all have a recommendation for horse care.
Finding someone with good references will ensure they do a good job and are responsible. Picking someone with a lot of horse care and knowledge is a good idea.
Cleaning Your Horses Stall is Important
Making sure that your horse has a clean stall and a proper amount of bedding is a great way to keep them healthy, happy, and comfortable.
I hope the information in this article has been useful in helping you learn all about the world of stall cleaning and barn care.