You love your horse. That’s no secret. Your equine companion brings you lots of joy and is even a great friend to you. But as a horse owner, you probably know the one thing that you don’t exactly love to do when it comes to your horse: cleaning the horse stall.

The job can be time-consuming and messy, but it is an important task. The condition of your pet’s lodging is a strong influence on its health. Exposing your pet to a dirty area puts it at risk of skin problems, breathing disorders, and other diseases. Your hoofed friend depends on you for a safe and clean haven.

So how can you keep the stable area clean and safe while minimizing the amount of work put into it? Use these four tips for horse stall maintenance to keep your pet healthy and to keep you happy.

1. Use a mat. While this seems to be a given, a rubber mat can cut a lot of work out of your maintenance. It will catch a lot of detritus that would otherwise end up on the floor of the box, so removing it during cleaning periods will do a lot of the job for you. Rubber mats also provide great traction for your horse and are quite cost-effective.

2. Use the proper tools. The type of bedding fork you use will depend on what sort of bedding is in the box. If you use straw, then a pitchfork will be your best bet, whereas if you use wood pellet bedding or shavings, you will want a bedding fork with its tines closer together. A lightweight wheelbarrow will make your loading trips quicker and easier on you. Have a sturdy leaf rake and a stiff broom available too, and a muck bucket will be important as well. Keep these tools in a place where they can be easily accessed and stored to save you time.

3. Make sure the area is dry. A moist, closed-in environment can breed a fungal disease called thrush. Avoid this by keeping the space as dry as you can. After cleaning, push the bedding against the walls and let the area dry out before letting your pet back in. A dry stable area will also help make your maintenance easier over time, as it can prevent mold and pests from making themselves comfortable there.

4. Give your friend some space. You must remember that horses are meant to live outdoors. They crave wide areas, which means keeping them shut in goes against their very nature. Giving your animal time to stretch its legs will not only keep it happy and healthy, but it will also give it less time to dirty the stable space.

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