HI Spy: Give Us Your Best Barn Organization Tips


    How do you keep your barn clean and organized?If you want to organize your home or office, there are multitudes of books, magazines and reality TV shows to tell you how to do it. Home organization is a growing industry in the United States as Americans attempt to simplify their lives. Is it possible to translate that mentality to the barn?

    We’ve all seen immaculate tack rooms and grain rooms in big show barns and commercial boarding stables. Matching tack trunks line the walls. Bridles hang straight and orderly across from saddles tucked away safely in their covers. Of course, those barns have teams of grooms and assistants to keep things in order. Step into the average backyard barn or busy lesson stable, and chances are you’ll find saddles put away backwards, brushes tucked away in random spots, piles of spilled grain and half an inch of dust on forgotten headstalls in the corner of the tack room.

    Let’s face it, most horse owners simply don’t have the time to keep a magazine-ready stable. Keeping the stalls and water buckets clean, the fences and shelters in good repair and the horses fed and cared for is a full-time job on its own. But an organized barn is more than just aesthetically pleasing. Keeping tack and brushes organized and separated can help prevent the spread of skin problems between horses. Cleaning up grain spills and removing piles of rags or old grain bags makes your barn less inviting to bugs and rodents. Sweeping away cobwebs and collected hay and straw reduces the risk of a fast-spreading barn fire.

    Whether your goal is a safe and healthy barn, an efficient setup for completing daily chores, or making your stable fit for the pages of Good Horsekeeping, chances are you’ve picked up some tricks along the way. Click “Submit a Comment” below to share your hints for an organized farm and barn with other readers. Some of the responses will be published in a future issue of Horse Illustrated.

    New: Top HI Spy answers may be eligible for a prize! If you’d like your response to be considered for the top answer, please include your email address in the email field of the comment form (your email address will not be publicly displayed.)

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    1. When it comes to managing the barn, I make good use of the plastic, sliding-drawer containers that can be found at Wal-Mart or similar stores. I use the smaller containers to hold a set of grooming tools for each horse, with their name labeled on it. Everything has a place to be put away, and there’s no confusion on whose brush is who’s for the boarders at the barn too.

    2. For each horse at the barn, we made a grooming bucket out of a plastic ice cream container (with the plastic handle). We spray painted and decorated the outside, put the horses name on it with sponge letters and filled it with that horse’s brushes, hoof pick, comb, rubber bands for braiding and a small spay bottle filled with Show Sheen. It is cheap, easy to carry and keeps the brushes from being used on other horses. We enjoyed decorating the containers.

    3. I have alot of good tips! But Im only going to share a few! I noticed alot of brushes go missing, so I keep mine in a peppermint container. Put tags on your tack to let people know its yours. Make sections in your tack box, (hoof, grooming tools, tropical aids, etc…)To keep track of emercency aids create a first aid kit with Bandages, wonder dust, your vet’s number etc… I hope you like my tips! Put them to good use!

    4. COLOR-CODE!!! I board my horse, and all my stuff is purple so everyone else recognizes it’s my stuff. Also I use my helmet as another bucket (it’s not just a brain bucket anymore) When it’s cold I put my gloves, hat, and any other things in there as well.

    5. I use The bright colors of Duct tape to label all of my stuff, especially brushes and whips and crops. I also use the sliding drawer storage bins for polowraps and stuff that I don’t use daily.

    6. For me, everything has to have a place. If I use certain things every day, then I put them in a place that is easy to reach, and easy to put away. Things that I just need on special occations, (saddle soap, shedding blades, extra brushes) I put in a couple plastic containers, each marked and store them there. Plastic containers are the key! Have fun!

    7. Keep it clean! I think it’s critical that every barn be organized in theory. What I mean is that you can easily find things even if to the outsider it is a disorganized mess! I can barely fit into my tack room but I know where everything is and it is all spotless! Hope this helps.

    8. We organize our horse’s things into colors. All my horse’s grooming tools, blanket, halter, etc. is all red. Hope that helps! 🙂

    9. All the people in our ban have “horse colors” or colors specifically for their horse, & all their blankets & supplies are those colors. Like mine are Navy & Silver, another persons is Lime green & Black, another is Red & black, & we all have little “lockers” in the tack room & we keep all our seperate stuff in there. So nothing can ever get mixed up & if it does, we know whos it is because of the colors. 🙂

    10. One way I keep my tack trunk neat is using the phrase “Keep it Simple”. Instead of buying every horse accessory I see, I only buy what I will actually use. That leaves only half the amount of stuff to organize.

    11. I find that at my boarding barn small things like brushes and ointments always get misplaced, so I’ve started putting either my initials or my horses name on them so i can easily tell if they’re mine or not.

    12. I use an old laundry detergent bucket screwed with it’s bottom to the wall to hang my harness and inside the bucket is all my washing equipment.
      For the bridle I screwed a metal can, base first, to the wall and it keeps the bridle perfectly rounded and not kinked.
      The feed is in bins and the hay is on a pallet in the same room. It’s only 4’x8′ but everything has its place and it works. The grooming equipment is on a shelves and the halters and leads and other paraphernalia hang from hooks.

    13. I bought a small craft-organizer bag that I keep my brushes in, so all I have to do is make sure that I put them back in the compartment they belong in.
      I keep all of my regularly used things such as my grooming bag and treat containers etc. on the top shelf in my tack-area, and then my coolers and infrequently touched things along the back wall to stay out of the way.
      We have hooks along three walls for blankets that are still in use,just not on a horse at the moment; and when winter is over they usually get washed, put into bags, and tucked neatly away with the rest of each persons tack.

    14. I have a blue rectangular tub that holds my feed. I also have a 5 tier shelving unit that holds all the stuff I need for daily care. My brushes, hoof picks and daily grooming essentials are kept in a plastic 2 sided compartment bucket. I have a small barn and I need as much space as I can get. I have a wooden cabinet that was made by my mother – in-law that holds my bridal, saddle blankets and my saddle sits on top. I have just enough floor space for a hay bale. It is a nice little cozy barn.

    15. I have an 8×8 tack shed and it holds: 5 saddles with pads on saddle racks; halters and bridles on 2 wood man made bridle racks; splint boots and bell boots in a nice rack that makes it easy to access and keeps them off the floor; grain and vitamins in rubber trash cans; brushes, hoof picks, etc are in a two sided bucket; blankets and sheets are hanging on the door for easy access and storage; a 4-tiered shelf sits in the middle to hold shears, treats, medication, oils, shampoo and conditioner, etc. it works and is very organized.

    16. It doesn’t matter how neat a tack room is if it isn’t efficient. Make sure you keep each horse’s items are in an easy-to-get-to place. For example, make sure you keep polo wraps, medicines, and specific tack items in the vincinity of their associated horse. That way you don’t go stealing your horse’s stablemate Dobbin’s $300 saddle pad!

    17. At our barn we share everything we have. All of our medical human and horse supplies are in a old locker for anybody to use if needed to. Our bridles/halter hang up on a bridle/halter hook in a ordered like with their name tags above. So you now who owns what. Each person has their very own tote! Which can only hold bery needed items, and sit on the far side of the barn. The tack boxes sit on a shelf next to the feed bins and the supplements.

    18. Label It! I love to use a nice brass label on all of my leather tack, my tack box, grooming supplies, and for blankets and sheets, have your names monogrammed onto them. It really helps if all of your friends have practically all the same supplies as you like they do with me! In your tack room, make sure everything is where it should be. Take the time to fold that fleece witherpad. Istead of throwing all your brushes and combs into the tack box, buy a tote andknow were things are in it. Fold blankets over the blanket rack in front of your horse’s stall. All in all, it only takes five minutes extra to keep things organized.

    19. I know from experience that many of us horse owners have so many unused things in our tack room that could be going to use to someone else. Old brushes that you don’t use just take up space and that old blanket just doesn’t fit your chubby little pony crowds everything! Take 20 minutes and go through everything in your tack room, keeping things you need and giving away things you don’t! Its that simple! Go through it about once a month to make sure your tack room stays neat and tidy. If you stil have too much stuff for the small space to store it, then try takig home things that you don’t need at the time. Maybe you have been trying to fit your heavy witer jacket when the cold season it long gone!

    20. In my tack trunk at my boarding stables, I like to go through all my stuff at least once a month. I love indulging in all different kinds of horse stuff (and most I don’t need). At my lesson stables, kids are taught what tack they use every time and how to put it away correctly. Also, twice a month, we have barn dutty where kids can sign-up to help around the barn. It keeps everything, even the hay room, clean.

    21. I have lots of tack, I keep it all in three tack boxes. English tack in one, western tack in another and misc (blankets, training, etc.) in another. I also use old supplement tubs for treats and to hold my brushes in. Everything I own has my initials on it.

    22. I only have on horse so my tack room is easier to manage then most. It is very orderly and unique. The saddle has it’s own rack, the bridle, halter and fly mask all have sepatate hooks and the hooks are metal horse heads! The luge line and lead rope are hung on another hook. The brushes, fly spray sponges and tack cleaning supplies are neatly placed on a shelf. Above the shelf there is a gold colored horse head that holds my helment and on one side of that hook are the polo wraps and on the other side are the sports wraps. To make the tack room unique and fancy the top is bordered with horseshoes that my horse has already worn!

    23. At the barn where I board we installed tack lockers and assigned one to every boarder. We requested that everything except saddles be kept in the assigned lockers. The lockers are big enough for buckets and tack caddies they are 5 feet tall with adjustable shelves and can even store hung bridles on the inside of the closed door. The doors close and lock thus keeping the dust down. This has made sweeping and cleaning in the tack room much easier, and neater, and no more accidental borrowing of brushes and tack. I am so pleased that we were able to get this done.

    24. keep your tack area clean! Have fun! go through it often! We use saddle racks, grooming totes, bridle racks, and tack boxes! All great tips!

    25. I keep all of my barn stuff (tack, treats, etc.) in my own little buckets so that I always know where they are. I always tell my friends at the barn that if your tack box is empty just spend a day sitting down and just group stuff together. Put your treats in one place and your grooming stuff in another. It pretty mush always works.

    26. The barn I ride at has two rooms. The halter room, has halters,leads, wraps, bandages, and other things. they are stored in Cobbies while the halters are labled by order of stalls, just above the cubbies. In the tack room, everyhorse has their own grooming bucket with their name on it, that are straight across from the saddles. The buckets sit on a shelf directly below their horses bridal.

    27. While waiting for the horses to finish eating, I use that time to walk through the barn and spotlight any small jobs that need to be taken care of. This could include sweeping the feed room, wiping down counters, or cleaning the bathroom. Since I’m there everyday all the small jobs add up pretty quickly!

    28. I use a small leaf blower. It keeps the barn dust down to a minumum and enables you to blow away cobwebs and dust in hard to reach places.

    29. In my barn, each horse has a separate container for grooming stuff, and I take maybe tewo hours or so every once in awhile to get all the hay off the floor, check for cobwebs, etc… Also, after I udse a saddle, I fold up the pad and put it on top of the saddle on the rack. It’s much easier to find and use next time!

    30. I keep my tack room organized by giving each horse a different halter color for example Gypsy has purple so all his stuff is purple. Only I dont really have a tack room I have a storage shed.

    31. I don’t have a barn, but I have a garage. My dad made me a saddle rack out of wood for the saddle and bridle. I have a little bucket for all the grooming supplies.

    32. I find keeping animal food in enclosed containers works best. I have a small chest freezer, no longer operable, to put bags of grain and cat food in. I also put bandages and small towels there, too. I also use galvanized trash can (with lid) for loose grain. I keep my scoop and measuring cup in this can, too. I keep all my brushes, combs, hoof picks, in a plastic carrying case. This summer I purchased a plastic deck box to keep in the barn for my 2 saddles and pads & blankets.

    33. Each of my horses has a specific color code for their stuff and each horse has their own set of grooming supplies. I put tags on bridles and girths so that people can tell them apart for each horse. This eliminates the chance of irritants being spread from one horse to the other.
      I also have barn rules clearly posted so everyone is aware of safety rules. I keep hay and grain separate from the areas where the horses stay to eliminate the chance of fire or the horses getting into grain. I also make sure saddlepads are frequently cleaned to eliminate skin infection and sweaty odors in the tack room.

    34. Keep common junk together and convenient for what you use it for. In the feed room, there won’t be brushes, saddles, and spare bridle pieces, there will be feed buckets, the grain in large containers, supplements, wormers, etc. There is a spot for fly spray and another for hoof care topicals/trushbusters.
      I don’t always use the same bridle with the same saddle, so keeping bridles hung on saddles gets unorganized; I simply have a rack for bridles, a rack for halters, and keep the pads with saddles, and leads with halters. My groundwork equipment also has it’s own little spot as well as any equipment I might need in the saddle. Helmets are compiled and a towel is kept near everything that might need one.

    35. I don’t have a separate tack room, so I have my bridles hung up on nails attached to the stalls. I have a ‘tack box’ underneath my bridles on the floor, it is always collecting stuff on top of it that I brought in the barn and have forgotten to take out. The feed bins also line the stall wall out of the way. My grooming tools, fly sprays and ointments and treats are on various shelves of a rack. My saddles are out in the middle of my ‘tack room’ I just have to walk around them and my mucking tools are against the the wall alongside the rack. Food bowls are against the front of the stalls, out of the way.

    36. Label Maker. About a year ago the barn I ride at bought a label maker for the brushes etc. It is the best purchase ever made. Everybody can use it and it just sits out so if you ever need it it’s there. All the brushes, things that are no longer in their original container etc. are labeled and all the people who board there have labels on all their stuff.
      Every studen and boarder has a box to keep everything except their saddle and bridle in. Each box is a different color and is labeled with the label maker.

    37. I don’t own a horse but i have seen a couple tack rooms. Some people have racks for saddles and saddle pads. Bins for helmets and hooks for halters and bridles. Other people have racks for helmets and one lady had forty some horse and she had little grooming kits for each horse. She had labeled each grooming kit and almost all of them were different colors.

    38. We just moved into a new barn. My horse trainer seperated the lesson tack room and boarder tack room. Each person gets a labled saddle and bridle rack, making sure we leave the tack room with clean tack. The boarders at my barn which have stall horses keep their trunks near their horses stall door. We always keep our stuff organized.

    39. Every day when I head out to the barn, I go into the tack room first thing and check everything over. If I need too, I organize things. Then after I ride or doing other chores in the evening, I head back in the tack room then clean and straighten tack. I also tidy up the feed.

    40. Hi,
      In our barn we have four horses which isn’t close to a boarding barn but it is a “backyard show barn.” In our barn each horse has a certain color associated with him. His food bucket, water bucket, groom buckets and everything match making it easy to put away things and keep everything orderly and neat.

    41. Well I board my horse so I just have my saddle on a rack and then a box with my grooming supplies and things. I try to keep the grooming stuff in a bag and put extra stirrups on the bottom, and keep the girths on top and whatnot 🙂

    42. At the barn I ride at, we came up with a cool idea to keep everything separated and orderly, especially during riding camp. We had a bucket of brushes for each horse, and we stuck them on the stall doors using clips. This was especially useful when tacking up because the horses were able to be groomed at their stalls without having to run back and forth to get brushes. In the tack room, there is a separate wall for western and english saddles, and another wall for bridles. This helps to keep the tack room neat. All of theses small things really help to keep our barn tidy.

    43. We all hada great idea this year at my barn. Each person picked another person’s name out of a hat, and we cleaned that person’s stall, tack, and organized their tack locker.

    44. well one thing my daughter and i do which works great as there is only two of us. we each have a tin can screwed to the wall with a lid and our names on it . and we some one does not put something away or spills anything the guilty one has to put $5.00 into the other persons jar and at the end of the month the winner only gets to go buy something for there horse or new tack but it has to be spent on there tack or there horse treats etc we have both gained from this and makes clean up a little more fun

    45. I am not sure how many I can do so i hope I am allowed to do many I am new here and love this part .my daughter and I have many of our vet supplies in the containers that five cent candy comes in they are square and round on a shelf right beside the door all sealed and clearly marked so that we or anyone with us can run in and grab whatever is needed in a very quick hurry.. i have the same thing the my tool box/tack box in my truck this has worked very well at the arena and its great if you have to send someone that is not up on vet terms they read in big letters and can bring it real quick works great for us

    46. yes its me again. we have our brushes combs etc all hanging on the wall.we also have all the shovels pics hammers tape measures etc hanging on another. The wall with the brushes etc have a small hand made sack as well after a week they all come home for a sterilization and good cleaning and any repairs or replacements needed are also done at this time. our saddles and bridles halters and any other leather is cleaned at the end of every month as well as checked for any week or loose parts. this is very important to us .

    47. we also store our grain ,treats and other food not the hay lol in containers on wheels and in small freezers that do not work also on wheels this makes cleaning up easy to move or to rearrange anything needed

    48. ok this will be the last one for today hope i do not get into trouble or kicked off for submitting so many I have lots that work for us. on the inside of our door we have each horses folder in sealed leafs i will call them with vet shots etc any other data we need on them we also have the same one at our house. we have vet numbers and all emergency numbers in there own folders .very nice to have yes they are also in my truck when you lift lid on tool box they are all right there this has come in very handy also at the arena i hope someone can use even one of our little tricks

    49. I keep my barn ogranized by making sure I put each horse’s tack away where it goes. That way, I don’t have to spend tons on replacement halters!

    50. We use our trailer almost every weekend. To stay organized we have a tack room. We keep a lot of our tack that we don’t use much in the tack room, and since we use the trailer so much we keep our most used tack in our trailer. We have lots of organizers, tool boxes, racks, and hangers. We also put stuff away right after we use it, if we don’t have time right away, we come back as soon as possible.

    51. Since we do not have a barn, i store all of my supplies in the horse trailer and keep the saddles indoors. To keep everything organized in the trailer I use a lot of labels and containers.

    52. I try and keep everything exactly where I originally had it. I board so if I don’t know where my things are it gets massively frustrating. Besides keeping things at the barn organized gives me more time to spend with my horse and that just makes everything more relaxing.

    53. I bought a very inexpensive clear plastic over-the-door hanging shoe organizer — one I took to shows with every needed item – roll it/fold it with everything in it and unroll and hang. Another hangs outside my stall with grooming tools, fly spray, etc. When they get old/torn/dirty, throw them away and buy a new one!

    54. Where I ride, boarders and kids who come to help out often get lockers for their own personal tack and items that they don’t want to be mixed up with other people’s things. Also, whenever we are done riding, we have to wrap the horse’s bridle and put it on the correct hook with the horse’s name.

    55. First a clean barn is a happy barn so always make sure the barn is sweeped and stalls are cleaned. Having a clean take room is one of the hardest things to do but it will be worth it. Make sure all saddles have their own rack as well as blankets, saddle pads and so on. Make sure all halters, bridles and so on have their own hooks. Its a great idea to have shelves to put helmets, saddle cleaner, tack boxes and so on. Make sure everything is off the floor. About once a month clean everything! Saddles, saddle pads, halters, bridles, blankets, horse brushes, helmets, tack boxes and so on. On that same day make sure things are where they belong. Its also a great idea to put the horses name on EVERYTHING! That way no one will spend hours looking for horses tack and the tack room will say as clean as ever. Keep rules in the tack room saying where things need to go so even the riders will help you out. Make sure you have only the things you need in the tack room in the tack room. Anything else can be stored away some where in your house.

    56. I own three horses so its not that hard to stay organized. I have a tack room with 3 walls, so each horse has it’s ‘own wall’. Show bridles, saddles, blankets and polos are up higher and the daily equipment is lower. Lead ropes and halters are put on stall doors. I also make sure my feed room in clean and my aisles are swept.

    57. I have a horse that is underweight. So when I feed her grain sepret from the rest of the padock horses I tidy up some thing so its always clean.

    58. My mom helps me by buying containers for all of my things, anything from hairnets to blankets. When I go to shows, I like to pack things into matching bags marked with my name so I don’t get things mixed up with other riders. Also, when you can fit all, or most of your belongings into a few separate containers, it makes all the difference!

    59. I ride at a barn with several boarders so sometimes people “borrow” things and don’t give them back. My tack trunk has my initials on it, so do all my brushes. My horse shampoo/conditioner has “Lyster” and “Status” written on them. In my trunk, the left bellboot always goes on top of the right one, as goes for splint boots. Shampoo/conditioner, flyspray, cowboy magic, and my “mixture” (flyspray, detangler, and water) go in a bucket I use for baths. All the supplements I have for my horse are in a metal trashcan that’s labeled.

    60. We have four horses, and all of them have their own hooks for bridles and halters, and we have saddle stands for all the saddles. All the buckets are in one place, and there is a shelf for grooming supplies and an area for feed. After a ride we like to make sure everything is put back neatly for the next time.

    61. Just make sure everything has its own place and always put it in that place. If something gets dirty take the time to clean it. Keep list and a barn calendar.

    62. Our barn has 2 tack rooms one for lesson horse one for boarders and you can tell the difference right away! The lesson tack room has a saddle pad rack and neat stacks of wither relief pads, riser pads, no slip pads, thin line pads etc. The saddles hang on the wall from smallest to largest, bridles hand under a brass nameplate of the horse with the girth hooked under, there is a list of each horse their bit and what extra pads they need. There is a shelf with an individual cubby for each helmet for students to borrow. The boarders tack room on the other hand – we’re trying to make do with what we have everyone has room for a tack trunk, bridle rack, and saddle rack that’s it. My pad and wither relief and saddle all sit on the saddle rack with my girth over it, my helmet is clipped onto my helmet rack, my bridle and extra reins hang on the rack with a friends, and my tack box holds extra feed, boots, seasonal gear, gloves, and all my extras. It may not be the perfect lesson tack room but I know where everything is and it all fits!

    63. I have 5 horses and a lot of tack for them, so each of my horses has their own color. It makes everything so much easier. I also label where things should go in my tack room so its there when i need it.

    64. Each of our horses have their personal matching tack/saddle set, girth that remains on the saddle and lead ropes/ halters on their own saddle stand. They also have a bag with all their personal (grooming, feeding) supplies that hangs on their saddle rack. We keep universal supplies (fly spray, supplements they all get, trough cleaning equipment, etc) in another bag. Everything is assorted and ready to grab whether is is for just one of them or all of them, feeding time or grooming and maintenance.


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