Hi everyone, it has been a while!
I hope you are all well and that your families are too during this really difficult time. Luckily, I can still work from home doing my day job but having more spare time has really got me thinking.. I have completely abandoned by blog in recent months and it is really because life is just so fast paced most of the time!
We are around week 7 into lockdown in the UK and the amount of spare time I have on the back of my 9-5 job and doing the horses is crazy! Even though my work is literally a 15 minute drive I am saving so much time by only having to travel 2 seconds down the stairs and into my work zone and this has done me the world of good.
Talking to a lot of my equestrian friends, their yards have completely isolated and their horses are having to go into summer grazing, limited time slots and so on.. Some aren’t even allowed to see their horses! I am so lucky where I keep mine that I still get to see them every day, even though I am on a strict time slot per day so that we can be as safe as possible at the yard. There are only 2 other liveries so it makes it a lot easier to manage.
Last weekend I put up an instagram story on how to keep your horse bedding cleaner for longer and the response I had on the subject was lovely! So here you have it…
If you are interested in my tips & tricks on how to keep your shavings bed cleaner for longer and to train your horse to be cleaner too, grab a cuppa and carry on reading..
Mucking Out Tools
A lot of you think you can muck out with a shavings fork and be done with it but this is where you are going wrong! Picking your mucking out tools carefully is key. You want the best tools for the job and that’s not buying the most expensive, but the most practical.
My favourite are below:
1. The classic poo scoop
2. A rubber matting shavings fork (Metal)
3. A wooden stiff bristle broom
The first step when I muck out is to obviously take the water bucket out and remove the hay nets that are tied up. I then go ahead and take my poo scoop and continue to pick up all of the droppings. Buddy is quite clean when it comes to droppings in his stable as they are usually solid but sometimes he does have the tenancy to bury them! Adie on the other hand, completely gross! You can usually tell if there is a dropping buried as when you try to move the shavings away it will appear hard, you can then roll the folk over the dropping and let them fall naturally which will help you not scoop up as much clean bedding!
Removing the droppings like this really helps to keep your bed cleaner for longer.. Using a shavings fork to civ the clean shavings from a dropping can add small speckles of poo to your bed and make it appear dirtier & browner quicker!
Once I have removed all of the droppings I then grab my shavings folk and continue to chuck up all of the clean shavings into big banks around the stable walls. I will do all the edges first and then make my way into the centre of the stable. I will then scrape the clean shavings off of the top of the wet patches and chuck that up as well leaving the solid wet patches which I will then remove with my fork. While chucking up the clean shavings, any missed droppings will fall down and you can remove those too.
By now I have removed all of the droppings & removed the wet. This is now where I sweep every inch of the stable to make the environment for my horses as clean as possible with my broom. If you do not sweep often, the wet can be tougher to remove over time and builds up. I like to do this every day as it makes each day easier when it comes to sweeping. I also have rubber matting, so this helps keep the rubber matting cleaner also. If there is still some wet speckles from picking up the wet shavings, that is fine, just sweep it in and the mixture of the two will make it dry out (You will probably remove this tomorrow if you follow my steps)
If you have rubber matting like me, over time naturally the matting will move if not completely fitted to your stable size, so once a week I like to pick the wet shavings out of the cracks of my matting with an old hoof pick.
Now this is the most vital part if you want to train your horse to be cleaner in general.. Laying your bed down. I make sure every single day that I chuck up and lay my shavings down in the same orientation. This means that you lay your bed in a certain routine. I usually start with pulling down the right side, followed by the back right across and then the left side. I then scrape a layer off of the top once I have smoothed everything down and create small banks. Laying your stable the same way each day trains your horse to pick up on their wee and poo scent which will naturally make them wee & poo again in the same place. Obviously, if your horse box walks a lot or is stressy often, this may not work for you.
I know exactly where my horses wee & poo so I can focus on those areas when mucking out. I have trained both of my horses to be clean.
All of the above photos are from Buddy’s stable around 3-4 days into the week. I put 1x bag of Hunters Shavings in each stable per week. By the 7th day they do need a top up, but that’s because the shavings are getting a bit low, not because they are filthy and I like decent sized beds! This also works with other shavings brands and some chopped straw too although I have found these shavings stay whiter and cleaner the longest and are most absorbent.
Both of my horses stables are outdoor stables and they do have regular ‘horse’ marks in them such as stains on the walls and also, bird nests & cobwebs. I like to keep the floor that they lay on and eat from as clean as possible.
You can also train your horses in their paddock/field to leave droppings in certain areas too. If you pick up all of their droppings but leave one in a certain place in their field, they will naturally over time go and leave their droppings in the same place. When Adie first came he used to poo all over the field, but over time he has naturally followed Buddy’s scent and now they have their ‘areas’.
Adie’s Bed; 4 days in
Adie is smaller so he has a smaller stable on the yard but I still have the same routine for him too. Although he is naturally a lot dirtier and moves around in his stable more, I have trained him over time to be nearly as clean as Buddy.
I would absolutely love to hear if you have tried my tips & tricks on keeping your bed cleaner or if you have managed to train your horse to be cleaner so please tag me in your pictures on instagram or comment below!
Thank you for reading, until next time..