Keep the Outdoors from Coming in

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Horse in Front of Barn

As a horse person, there’s a certain part of me that would be quite happy living in a well-appointed tackroom. Unfortunately, the rest of my household doesn’t share the same design aesthetics.

The associated flies, mud, dust and dander that go along with living the horse dream are not as easily ignored by non-horsey inhabitants. To preserve household harmony, I searched for items that would contain the mess without sacrificing my identity.
In case you’re confronted with the same dilemma, I have a trio of helpful tips. Included are some of my favorite products that proved their worthiness through trial and error.

Tip No. 1: Cover Your Tracks

Due to culture or tradition, a percentage of homeowners remove their street shoes before coming indoors; they ask the same of their guests. It’s a minor inconvenience, yet this practice makes sense if you spend much time around horses. Boot soles notoriously harbor compressed tidbits of soil.

If you don’t want to leave a trail of barn crumbs throughout your house, try these items:

Boot Scraper: A must-have item, especially if you have to tromp to your horse in inclement weather. This will remove the worst of the mud.

Opt for one with a cute design, such as an animal shape, if a plain steel frame with oversized bristle brushes doesn’t entice you.

Welcome Mat: Don’t forget to wipe your feet, even on those occasions when you simply need to dash inside. Choose a heavy duty, non-slip mat designed for outdoor use.

For something eco-friendly, try one made of coir—the tough, fibrous bristles derived from coconut husks.

Muck Shoes: These aren’t decorative galoshes, but hardcore footwear that withstands the corrosive acids of soiled stall bedding while keeping your feet warm and dry. Slip them on and off for barn work.

Clean Comfort Shoes: Keep a pair of cushy, flat-soled shoes on hand. Slip into them when you leave the barn or before you enter your house. If you’re lucky enough to have a designated mudroom, stash them there.

Muddy Barn Boots

Tip No. 2: Make a Clean Sweep

Most horse people find existential bliss while shoveling manure into a wheelbarrow, yet rebel at pushing a broom across the kitchen floor. Sadly, mundane domestic duties are unavoidable once horses and households are combined.

Even with conscientious preventive measures, it’s a challenge to keep the floors clean. They’re repeatedly coated with a microscopic layer of arena sand and trail dirt. Contributing to that troublesome mix are the dust bunnies and tufts of hair contributed by that faithful companion, the barn dog. When you’re ready to go to war, here are some useful weapons:

Barn dog grooming supplies: Take advantage of shampoos formulated for specific purposes, such as removing odors or addressing seasonal shedding. Periodic, gentle grooming with a shedding comb will help your dog leave most of his hair outside.

Dog in Front of Barn

Specialty brooms and vacuums: Neither the common broom nor the average vacuum are up to the task of cleaning the floors of a horse person’s house. When selecting these products, disregard the size and heft of the item; search for innovation instead. Labels should tout that the item is designed to combat pet hair.

Practical flooring: Despite the classic mainstays of interior design like ivory carpet and genuine hardwood floors, an equestrian lifestyle demands more durable flooring options.
Shop for floor coverings—including tile, laminate and vinyl—made for high-traffic wear and tear. Look for warranties against stains, scuffs and fading.

Tip No. 3: Control the Air Space

The herbal essence of fresh hay and the old-timey smell of saddle soap are like perfume to us. Yet those same odors, along with their less popular companions Eau de Wet Barn Dog and Sweaty Saddle Pad No. 5, aren’t welcomed indoors.

The atmosphere of your home should be also be free of flies, which can cross-contaminate the prep space in your kitchen, and mosquitoes, which are known to transmit some nasty illnesses. Try these suggestions:

Defend the home front: A mesh screen door makes a physical barrier against flying insects. A pocket-style door allows light and cool breezes inside while keeping annoying insects out. Thanks to the magnetic closure, it shuts with minimal effort. When not in use, it stows neatly away.

Enlist nature: Chemicals and traps aren’t always necessary when waging war against the ubiquitous fly. If your horse lives at home, order some parasitic wasps. These tiny, stingless predators eat newly hatched fly larva.

Have lovely laundry: Sitting on furniture while wearing jeans damp with horse sweat will leave a faint aroma not everyone finds appealing.

For grimy riding apparel (and other machine washable items with potentially offensive odors), empty a small box of baking soda directly into your washing machine, right along with the detergent. While the suds lather away dirt, the baking soda abolishes odor.

Meanwhile, unless you’re wearing clean clothes, you should stay off the furniture. Or so I’ve been told.

Cindy Hale currently serves as a judge at local and regional open horse shows.


This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!

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