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Saving Bucks Around the Barn

By: Ann Compton

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Every horsekeeper accumulates a repertoire of time- and money-saving shortcuts over the years. Some people think it's a defense mechanism – if we didn't, we'd drown in barn chores. Others think it's a reflection of the resourcefulness required to work around horses. Here are a few tips gathered over the years:

  • To give your horse wet hay buy an inexpensive muck bucket and drill holes in the bottom. Put a flake or two of hay in the bucket, hose it and you don't get soaked. If the handle breaks on the bucket, as is common, double a piece of bailing twine, twist and thread it through the openings and it will outlast any handle that comes with the bucket.

  • To prevent bailing twine from getting tangled in the feed room, buy some wooden pegs and nail them into the wall, or just hammer a nail into the wall, and hang each piece of bailing twine neatly on it.

  • If you feed your horses Strongid C, instead of measuring and looking at the level each time, cut the cup at the number of pounds that you feed and you can scoop without having to find your reading glasses to see those numbers.

  • To save time in the morning measure out your horse's supplements for the week by using zip-lock bags. Combine all the supplements each horse needs in a separate baggie for each day. This also is handy for transporting supplements overnight to shows.

  • If you lime your stalls, poke holes in the bottom of an empty coffee can and leave it in the lime bin so you can sprinkle the absorber easily and evenly. This also works well with other things that need spreading, such as salt or ice-melter in the winter.

  • Use a toilet bowl brush to clean your water or feed buckets instead of scrubbing with rags or horse brushes. It's effective and it keeps your hands dry – a plus in the winter.

  • Use a small windshield scraper to pry ice out of water buckets.

  • Buy a large plastic bin from the discount for storing equipment. You can store coolers, sweat sheets and at least one heavy blanket in each one. Keep one for each horse – they cost about $5 apiece. They stack well, taking up minimal space. Just don't put blankets in the bin damp or wet because they'll mildew.

  • To re-waterproof your blankets, spray the outside with a can of shoe silicone, like one you'd use on your boots, and hang them on a fence to dry.

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