by Lisa Kiley – published in the Saddle Up! January 2021 page 10
Chances are, if you have one horse or a whole barnful, you have a lot of horse related things. More likely, those items can end up scattered between your barn, garage, horse trailer or house. Equestrians invest a lot of money in the tack and products we use for our horses, so it makes sense to protect that investment by keeping things neat, clean, and organized. Winter offers a great time to get organized in the barn, you might not be spending as much time riding, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay out of the stable. Put an extra layer on and make the most of your ‘down time’.
Inventory – Knowing what you have and where it’s located is important. It’s a great idea to take an inventory and create a list of all the items you have. Start with your show tack, saddles, bridles, and other more valuable items. As you are creating this list, snap photos of each item, getting a few angles and making sure to take a close-up of serial numbers or makers marks on the items. Although it’s not a pleasant thought, in the case of a natural disaster or theft, it can be vital for reporting missing or damaged items to your insurance company. It also makes it convenient if you decide you want to sell something that you have, you will already have photos and descriptions on file to post.
Reorganize & Store – After you have logged all your items, determine what products you are using most frequently. These items should get the most real estate in you tack room. Items used daily need to be in the most accessible spaces, but they still need a place to live. This way they aren’t just left out all the time, which will cut down on clutter. Go through the ‘off season’ items and create a space to stow them. You can use bins, boxes, or storage racks. Protect the items against rodents, freezing, or exposure to light. As you put things away, make sure they are clean and in good repair. That way, when you pull them out for the next season, you will be ready to go.
Label Items – Sorting by size, discipline and/or horse, will make items much easier to locate. Color coating is a great way to determine what items belong to each horse. If all the horses in the barn use the same barn colors, you can tag each horse’s tack and blankets with colorful electric tape, zip ties, permanent marker, or grease pen. Monograming, embroidery or using bridle/halter plates is another great way to keep things organized, especially in a shared tack room.
Utilize Organizational Tools – Protect your investments with the right organization tools. Saddle racks can keep your saddles supported, extending the lifetime of the tree, and keeping the leather in the right position to prevent curling and cracking. Bridle racks keep your bridles accessible, supported over the crown and give your reins the space to hang so they will not end up kinked or bent. Keeping saddle pads hung on racks that allow for airflow, allows wet pads to dry and prevents mold and mildew spores that transmit to the skin coat of your horse.
Barn Safety – In addition to saving time and protecting your tack investments, keeping items organized will also increase the safety of your barn. When things are left lying about, it’s easy to get into a tangle which can be disastrous for both you and your horse. Keeping tack items hung properly and regularly cleaned will also keep them in good condition and let you more easily notice when something needs to be repaired, preventing any issues of tack breaking while in use.
Other safety precautions can include adding lighting to areas of your barn and keeping your tack room locked. Dark areas in a barn or tack room can make it harder to navigate. Just a few additional lights can brighten the space and add a layer of security to both the interior and exterior of your barn. Even simple locks work as a deterrent to theft. After all the work you’ve done organizing, it’s worth it to take the extra step of putting your tack room under lock and key.
Out with the Old – Should you find that you have several items that you haven’t been using or don’t need anymore, it may be time to clear them out of your space completely. Depending on the items, you may want to sell them or donate the items to a non-profit or charity of your choosing. If you find that you have some items that are not safely usable, think about re-purposing for craft projects or recycling, rather than throwing away.
Hopefully, some of these ideas will be useful as you make your horse related New Year’s resolutions this year.