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Equipping Your Barn

By: Marcia King

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Whether you are a new horse owner stocking up on stabling supplies, a seasoned equestrian making a routine inventory of your tack box, or someone looking for a handy gift for a horse-loving pal, it's good to know what every well-stocked barn should contain.

Grooming Tools

For good looks and good health, grooming supplies are high on every equestrian's list.

  • A firm-fiber body brush and a soft-fiber brush. Use the firm brush for the body and the soft brush for face and legs.

  • Dandy brushes

  • Curry combs. They come in hard rubber, plastic, metal, and mitt styles, but you need only one type.

  • Mane combs. Unless you're showing and require top-notch grooming, use an old, rubber-tipped hairbrush for routine brushing of the mane and tail.

  • Hoof picks

  • A shedding blade

  • A sweat scraper. Debra Bates owner/manager of Hunter's Run barn in Temperance, Mich., recommends using a rubber scraper instead of a metal one for removing excess water. "Rubber scrapers don't get rusty," she says. "They cost a couple of dollars more, but they're worth it."

  • Shampoo. Use concentrated horse shampoos, says Bates, adding: "It comes in a great big tub and it lasts."

  • Several sponges and towels for both horse grooming and tack cleaning. Instead of purchasing expensive sponges and towels at tack shops, buy the plainer and cheaper varieties at grocery or discount stores.

  • Electric clippers and groomers are handy, but don't always fit into the budget. "Until you can afford electric face clippers," advises Bates, "use the round plastic razors sold at grocery stores. Be sure to use them carefully. As for body clippers, most horses don't need to be body-clipped if they're properly groomed." One exception: Horses shown or worked indoors during the winter may need a body clip to help cool off.

    Store these items in a tote box. Special equine tote boxes can be purchased at tack shops or through horse catalogs. Cheaper boxes can be bought at department and discount stores.

    Tack and Accessories

    Horse owners also need tack and equine accessories.

  • Halters and lead-lines. Keep two cotton lines. Lines should have a chain for a little extra help in leading a horse in difficult situations. Halters should have leather straps that break in emergencies; it's better to break the halter than the horse's neck. Throat snaps are easier and quicker to fasten and unfasten than buckles.

  • Rubber boots with Velcro fastenings because some horses kick themselves, over-reach, etc.

  • A saddle pad or two for improving fit and comfort are an important part of most horse owners' inventories. Keep two, so while one is being washed, the other can be used. Fleece and sheepskin pads are the most popular. Fleece is washable while sheepskin is more difficult to clean.

  • Blankets, rugs, and/or cooling sheets, depending on their work situation and climate.

    Stable blankets and rugs provide extra warmth in chilly weather for stabled and winter-clipped horses. A blanket is suitable for stalled horses. Those that are turned out on cold days in snow or sleet benefit from a rug, which is better for keeping moisture away from the skin.

    Blankets are available in wool, nylon, cotton or blends. The handiest are those with leg straps, which helps keep them from twisting up. Rugs are heavier and are always made of wool because of its moisture repellency.
    Cooling sheets are thrown across the horse after a workout to prevent the horse from cooling down too fast and getting chilled as he's being walked out. Many prefer cotton sheets because of their absorbent qualities.

  • For keeping tack supple, clean and conditioned, keep a supply of leather cleaner, saddle or glycerin soap, towels, sponges, and a couple of buckets for soapy water, rinse water, etc. Keep your saddle clean, scratch-free and in good shape with a cover or clean blanket to protect. Use a saddle rack or holder to protect the saddle's shape.

  • Those who show also might require a show halter, spurs, shipping boots, braiding kit, tail wrap, hoof black, fly mask, and lunge lines.

  • A tack box is essential for storing and locking away equipment and tools, especially in a boarding barn. Unfinished and unassembled tack boxes begin at about $100.

    Odds and Ends

  • Hole punch. For those inconvenient times when equipment breaks, keep one on hand for making new holes when old holes on leather halter straps or stirrup leathers get torn or stretched out

  • A clincher for snapping off nails that poke from horse shoes

  • A hoof knife for quick repairs

  • A tool box stocked with hammer, pliers, screw driver, eye bolts, twine, masking or electrical tape, a knife and a flashlight

  • S-hooks and double-ended snaps for hanging up buckets, tack equipment and other items at both the boarding AND the show barn

    Medical Items

    Minor medical emergencies occur from time to time, but if you're unfamiliar with how to handle a medical situation or deal with treatments, call someone who does or contact your veterinarian. The horse owner's medical kit should including the following:

  • Antibiotic ointments or powders for superficial cuts and scrapes

  • Poultices for aches, bumps, swellings, strains and pulled muscles

  • Epsom salts for hoof soaking and sore muscles

  • Wound cream for healing minor cuts, abrasions and scratches

  • Liniments for temporary relief of minor stiffness and soreness due to overexertion

  • Rubbing alcohol to be used after hard workouts

  • Mineral Ice for relief of minor pain, inflammation and swelling

  • Nitrofurazone, a coating, freezing disinfectant for stopping minor pain and itching

  • Peroxide for cleaning minor wounds

  • Tamed iodine for flushing and disinfecting wounds

  • Iodine scrub, a soapy solution for cleaning and disinfecting wounds

  • Vaseline to keep the horse's feet clean and dry, to protect the skin in case of rash or irritations

  • Boric acid or eye cream

  • Fly repellent and fly repellent ointment to keep a wound clean and flies off

  • Zinc oxide to protect light-muzzled horses from sunburn

  • Sterile bandages and eye pads, elastic bandages and bandage pads
  • Stretch tape at least 1 inch wide

  • Scissors for cutting bandages and tape

  • Cotton balls for cleaning wounds

  • Syringes for flushing out wounds and punctures

  • Veterinary thermometer for those who know how to use them. Digital thermometers are the easiest to read

    A human first aid kit containing bandages, peroxide, cotton balls, soap or disinfectant, and iodine or Mercurochrome for cuts, scrapes and bruises

    A fair amount of money and planning are needed to equip a barn properly for emergencies as well as for the routine maintenance of owning, riding and showing your equine. But seasoned horse owners know that it's money and effort well spent.

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