Get Organized! Tips for Keeping the Barn and Tack Room Tidy
by Karen Elizabeth Baril
A recent study showed that clutter triggers a stress response in humans.
Scientists compare clutter to white noise. You know that annoying, but barely discernable buzz of your refrigerator or the endless
drone of your neighbor’s lawn mower? That’s white noise. When it stops, your body relaxes. You might even breathe a sigh of relief.
That’s because white noise triggers the autonomic nervous system (responsible for the fight or flight response)—when the noise stops, the nervous system relaxes again.
Perhaps not so surprising is that our autonomic nervous system is triggered by too much clutter as well. But, here’s the kicker —it’s
triggered even in those individuals who claim that clutter doesn’t bother them all that much. Research shows that when our
environment is well-organized, we’re happier even if all that untidiness never hits our conscious radar.
Now, if you’re like most horse owners, you tend to collect stuff. Who knows where it all comes from, but there never seems to be
enough space. No sooner do you find a place to store all your horse’s leg wraps than you have a sudden explosion of cotton saddle
pads to sort through. And what to do with all those whips and sticks? It’s overwhelming, but this month, we offer tips to keep your barn space tidy.
A place for everything and everything in its place. That’s a maxim that’s worth following in the tack room. Not only will
organization make it easier to find things, but it also helps to protect your valuable tack. Let’s take a look:
Plan what you want to store in your tack room. Of course, you want to store tack, but perhaps you also want to store miscellaneous
items like saddle pads, polo wraps, cleaning supplies, shampoos and grooming items. In general, it’s not a good idea to store feed (which can be moist) in the same room as tack.
If you have boarders you might want to give each horse his own space, complete with saddle rack, bridle rack, and storage bin. Wall
units work well for this purpose. If you choose to store helmets in your tack room, the area will need to be
temperature controlled. If it is not, store your helmet at home as variations in heat and cold can destroy the integrity of your helmet construction.
Be creative when it comes to investing money. Bead board (which can then be painted to suit your style) or storage panels like the pegboard styles used in garages are great alternatives to drywall.
Salvage cast-off kitchen cabinets for wall mounts from Habitat for Humanity, estate sales, or your local junk shop. You can install a
beam or pole from one end of the tack room to the other to serve as an inexpensive saddle rack that will hold multiple saddles. PVC
poles cut to size and bracketed to walls make for great whip and crop storage. Another idea is to mount several strips of industrial
strength Velcro to the wall to hold protective leg boots. Milk crates serve as useful ‘see-through’ shelving for leg wraps and other smaller items.
Lighting is important to staying organized. Never use non-agricultural lighting in your barn or tack room. Incandescent bulbs are not
only expensive, they are a fire hazard in the moist and often dusty barn environment. Choose UL approved agricultural lighting fixtures
that produce daylight quality light. Bulbs should be cool burning even when outside temperatures fall below freezing. They should be
gasketed even in stalls, of course, flame and rust proof, and, of course, energy efficient.
Finally, put the finishing touches on your tack room with a coat of paint, your favorite framed horse posters, or an inspirational quote. Hang your old ribbons from a parti-colored clothes line.
Perhaps the biggest challenge to keeping the barn aisle neat is storing all those manure rakes, brooms, and shovels. If you have the
space off the aisle, (the feed room is a good place), mount two pieces of 2x4 plank wood; one at the floor and one about waist-high,
parallel to the floor. Then mount 3- inch PVC couplings top and bottom at appropriate intervals. Just slip the rakes into the two PVC
holders top and bottom and you have an instant rake holder. This system works even better than wall racks in barns; the rakes won’t come tumbling down if a horse bumps into them.
Keep your hose neatly coiled with a hose mount or simply turn a plastic bucket on its side and attach it to the wall. You get an instant
hose holder that doubles as a small shelf. Many items we use to organize our bathrooms (wire baskets and shelves) work equally well
as storage units for the front of stalls, keeping individual brushes and hoof picks handy.
Every season toss out rakes or other barn tools that are damaged or that you no longer use. Consider investing in a small tool or
garden shed for storing seasonal items not in use like winter blankets, heated buckets, fly sheets, and other items not in season.
Lighting in the barn aisle is critical to safety and emergency care. Think of the last time your horse had a wound that needed veterinary
attention. Wouldn’t it be nice to have adequate lighting both for you and your veterinarian?
The barn is our ‘go to’ place to get away from the stress of everyday life. Don’t let clutter take that away.
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