Spring is here for most of us — time to take a break from the daily grind, clean up, and start anew. The tradition of spring cleaning is just as important around the barn as it is around the house, and horsemen can benefit from making the major effort to clean up and start the season right.
Start with your barn — there may be a lot of work to do but it is easy to identify. Of course you groom your horses, and keep their stalls clean but the start of warm weather is also a good time to scrub stall walls and give those stall mats a good cleaning.
Blanket washing and repair, whether you do it yourself or send them out, is a ripe target for spring cleaning because blankets are one of the first winter items you think of.
While you are working on having all of the winter blankets cleaned and restored, take a look at their summer counterparts — including coolers, fly sheets, fly masks, anti-sweat sheets and rain sheets.
You should also check all of the winter blankets and sheets you did not use this year. I thought I had everything in order until I unfolded a championship cooler I had on a rack in the tack room only to find out there were holes eaten in it. Now it will have to be repaired or go in the trash.
Check all of those blankets for size as well. You may end up with a pile that just don’t fit any of your horses. You might be able to have them resized by someone with sewing skills, or you may want to donate them to your nearest handicapped riding program if they are otherwise in nice shape. There are lots of equestrian charitable organizations nationwide looking for help with equipment.
That goes for tack too. Spring cleaning is a prime time to pull out every-thing in your tack room and tack trunks.
You don’t have to throw things away just because they are dirty, but you should replace anything that is unsafe. Some old leather perks up nicely with cleaning and a leather conditioner, but if it doesn’t, and it looks like it could break, it is time to get rid of it.
Even if you don’t throw any-thing away, and the cleaning is minimal, this is a good way to take an assessment of everything in your barn and remind yourself where all of your equipment is. If you are suddenly in need of a heavy rope in an emergency, you want to know immediately where to find it. Labels on all of your storage bins can provide a quick reference to the contents, so you can find what you need in less time.
Chances are you will find things you forgot you had, or thought you had misplaced. I went searching for a pair of missing bell boots, and never found them, but I did find a pair of spurs I had not seen since the 1980s.
This is also time for a tune up on the farm tractor, inspection of the horse trailer, and a check of your towing vehicle. Wiring for a trailer can go bad very easily, so keeping an eye on it is important. It is even more of a priority if you do not use your trailer often. Tires can crack and go flat, and batteries can die in the cold. You don’t want to find yourself stranded on the morning you were planning to drive to a show.
Spring cleaning includes your closets too. The only way to know if last year’s show clothes still fit is to try them on. You will want to know well ahead of time if you need to have some seams let out or if a new outfit is in order. Even hats can be the wrong size if you had a change in your hair cut or style over the winter.
Finally, clean out your information. This is a good time to update any phone contacts that you use when you travel to shows, and check out events you want to enter or watch this year.
Cleaning also includes organizing all of your memories. Photos, videos, and memorabilia need to be organized and put in their place so you don’t lose them. Add fresh batteries and a fresh memory card to cameras that need them so you won’t miss that first blue ribbon of the 2015 season!
Cleaning is no fun, but there is a sense of satisfaction to be enjoyed when it is done right. If you find a long forgotten item, or catch a dangerous situation before it causes problems, you will be thankful you did your spring cleaning.