How to clean a stall :::rant & question::: - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 08-09-2010, 11:41 AM Thread Starter
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How to clean a stall :::rant & question:::

What does "cleaning a stall" entail to you? At our farm, we occassionally get people who just want to clean their horse's stall (whether it's a part of owning a horse, stress relief, etc... I think all horse owners are drawn to doing that once in a while). Great, right? Well, it seems there is great variance in what it means to "clean a stall".

I guess here at our farm, we believe there are a few basic elements that are important to understand when cleaning a stall: stall floor (matted or clay, here at our farm), saw dust/wood shaving bedding (costs an arm and a leg, we essentially consider it to be horse farmer's gold), manure, and urine (create the seemingly elusive "wet-spot"). Occassionally we get the horse that has figured out how to dump their water bucket, but we'll just classify that as urine, too, for "clean-up" sake.

Cleaning of the stall:
All we want left in our stalls is "clean" bedding (this could be 100% fresh or often-times, we are able to "salvage" dry, unsoiled bedding in an otherwise soiled stall <- most efficient and economical) and the clay floor.

This is where we start finding HUGE discrepancies in what it means to "clean a stall". It seems 90% of people who clean stalls (at least in our experience), forget that horses pee. Lots. What could be worse than stepping in your own poo? Giving yourself a pedicure in your own urine - just think of how caustic that stuff can be! Do you REALLLLY want to leave your horse standing on that? What usually happens is people will either pick out most of the manure and say "I cleaned the stall!" or, they will completely GUT out all of the bedding EXCEPT the wet stuff that is kind of stuck to the clay - out goes the good bedding and poop, in stays the urine. See where I'm coming from?

When people clean stalls, we say "Okay, you are doing a good job getting out the manure, don't forget to find the wet spot(s) and get all of that out, too!" The person enthusiastically says "Of course! I've got this!", and they either ignore it (laziness?), or just don't recognize it when they see it.

So, mostly we kind of just stand back, shake our heads and get back in after they leave and fix it. I always laugh about it, but really - what do you all consider to be "cleaning" a stall? Are we too picky (I don't think so because frankly, we are a boarding facility and I know DARNED WELL that if I cleaned the horses stall the way the owner does, I'd, in all likelihood, get questioned about it in some unpleasant manner)?

Assistant master-stall-slinger (my husband being master-stall-slinger)

PS - I always find this amusing, although sometimes it can be annoying (we have had a few instances where we've said "okay, you can work off SOME of your board, here is what we need you to do..." <- those are the situations that make me complain). I think we are too nice to say "Hey, wtf? That sucks, fix it and do it right or you won't get credit anymore!" I think if we actually PAID an employee we'd be more inclined to really come down. We've told people "Hey, you aren't doing it properly, it ends up being more of a hassle to us when you don't do it right: we need you to do it this way..." and then we hop in and "show 'em how it's done". Haha. BUUUUT, then they go back to doing it the "lazy" way.

Last edited by leonalee; 08-09-2010 at 11:45 AM. Reason: Hehe
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post #2 of 15 Old 08-09-2010, 11:46 AM
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Stall cleaning is like so many other things in life. No two people can agree on what is the right way to do it.

If it annoys you to have others not cleaning their stall right do not allow them to clean them. If you are not able to say no, just clean them again yourself, the way you want them done.
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post #3 of 15 Old 08-09-2010, 12:08 PM Thread Starter
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Haha - well, my hubby and I agree! That is exactly what we do: I brought this up because someone else has a post (not related really at all, but that made me think of this).

We don't mind when people clean their own stalls from time to time; we only mind when the people we ask specifically (and tell specifically what we expect) don't do it, lol. I just posted this because I KNOWKNOWKNOW there have to be other people out there who experience the same thing, and really, unless you are willing to offend people about something most people consider mundane, all you can do is laugh. And, I'm curious how else there is to clean stalls other than the way WE do it (no, I don't think our way is the only way, but it is what works for us). There are SOOOOO many variables: type of bedding, type of footing, drains v no drains, stall size... and the list goes on. Efficient and effective is our goal, lol.

This certainly isn't a convo non-horsey people will care about, so where else can you discuss it?
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post #4 of 15 Old 08-09-2010, 12:29 PM
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I have two horses, two stalls, both done totally differently.

Mare who is a pig and likes to have pawing fits when she is not getting her grain fast enough has a stall that has mats from edge to edge. She is also the type that if her hay hits the floor it becomes bedding. She gets minimal bedding because the more bedding she gets the more I have to sift through and toss out 2x per day. Morning and evening all manure and wet saw dust are removed. More is added as needed.

Gelding is neat but urinates (and drinks) a lot. The base in his stall is crushed stone (same base as the whole barn). He is bedded with a very thick layer of sawdust with straw on top. Manure is removed 2x per day. 1x per day straw is removed from the middle and some pee spot is removed, dust and straw put back on. Once every two weeks the whole wet portion of the stall is removed and the thick base is replaced.

So, I am not sure either of my ways matches yours, both work well for their horses.

I used to clean stalls in exchange for board when I boarded. The one girl never ever removed hay. By the end of the week, the stalls she cleaned had a huge pile of yucky stinky hay in the corner (some horses are fussy and messy). The one horse always had one corner of his stall that was several feet higher than the rest of his stall, because of the rotting hay pile. But she cleaned out the wet spot.
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post #5 of 15 Old 08-09-2010, 12:36 PM
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Well, as a boarder who has also owned a barn herself, I am really picky (no pun intended ) too. I have boarded in a variety of situations, but always, when I clean my stall (or others to help out) I get the pee by sort of taking off what is salvageable on top of it or around it, and then scraping up the wet stuff with the fork. Some places use lime, some not, but the pee spots is where that goes, I pick up the manure, then redistribute the shavings, adding as needed. then sweep the stall, so that the shavings are away from the door-which saves on sweeping the aisle.
Now, if I was working off board, I would consider that like employment. I would think that if someone is working off their board you have every right to corrrect them if you don't like it. However, those who are not working it off, and are just being helpful, I would just be glad they helped at all.
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post #6 of 15 Old 08-09-2010, 12:39 PM
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If you have only one way that you consider 'correct', then don't let anyone else clean stalls to help defray board costs. There are plenty of other onerous, back breaking tasks that need to be done.

I have my own anal retentive routine when I clean stalls. You might not like it, but then, I might not like your way.

Essentially what it comes down to is your barn, your rules. If people can't play by your rules, then they don't play. It really is that simple.
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post #7 of 15 Old 08-09-2010, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Speed Racer View Post
If you have only one way that you consider 'correct', then don't let anyone else clean stalls to help defray board costs. There are plenty of other onerous, back breaking tasks that need to be done.

I have my own anal retentive routine when I clean stalls. You might not like it, but then, I might not like your way.

Essentially what it comes down to is your barn, your rules. If people can't play by your rules, then they don't play. It really is that simple.
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post #8 of 15 Old 08-09-2010, 01:02 PM
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This whole thread made me laugh, and brought back memories, some good, some not.

To the OP, apparently you haven't run into the diligent and helpful individual who picks up the clay flooring in an attempt to get all of the wet spot.

You really have described two scenarios - 1.) the helpful boarder and 2.) the boarder trying to work off board - which require two separate responses.

To the helpful boarder, tell them that you appreciate it, and that the best thing they can do to help you is to pick their horse's stall (manure only, from the top) before putting their horse away. Most fastiduous horsepeople are going to do this anyway. Say you prefer that they not muck to the bottom or rebed because you have you own system and schedule for that.

To the boarder working off expenses; you have every right to hold them to the same standard as an employee, but you probably want to be a even more diplomatic than with the helpful boarder. Explain that you're particular about the stalls, and that they need to learn your preferred method before you'll allow them to do it for credit. Have them show up a couple of times to help you/work with you before entering into a barter for board arrangement. Say something self deprecatory like "I know it sounds silly, but we spend more on bedding than we do on hay (or hay and feed combined, whichever is true in your case) so you need to be very careful about how you sift and remove bedding; it really impacts our costs."

"Shoveling manure" or mucking stalls are metaphors for the lowest sort of unskilled labor; you have to be tactful about explaining that it *is* a skill that takes a little practice to master and is difficult to do well.

You'll also have to assume that any new stall mucker, and anyone not paying the bills, is going to waste more bedding than you would, and adjust the barter accordingly so it still works out to be a benefit for you.

Last edited by maura; 08-09-2010 at 01:05 PM.
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post #9 of 15 Old 08-09-2010, 01:12 PM
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Cleaning stalls is personal preference I think. When I worked at Quantico Stables, before it became a "club", back when it was a working facility we cleaned stalls every morning, picked the poop out and raked the sawdust back and forth to ensure we got all the poop balls. We picked the stalls again in the afternoon, we left the pee spots. The floors were clay and you would end up with a huge sink hole in the middle if you cleaned the pee spots daily. Once a week we would clean the pee spot out and once a month we would strip the stall and lime/lay fresh clay.

At my house... (My horses go in at night in the winter unless the weather is bad and stay out all summer) I started out by cleaning my pee spots daily. I never liked leaving them. I ended up with the huge craters in the center of 2 of my geldings stalls so I went to the every third day routine on the pee unless it was bad. I have one stall that is rubber matted so I don't have the problem there, but because drainage isn't great, it gets cleaned daily.

I add pineshavings liberally because they are $5 per bag. If the stall is cleaned properlly it will stay nice for a long time. My mom is bad, she'll pick the poop and then dump pineshavings over top to make it look really clean. I hate it when she cleans stalls but I hate it more when she doesn't (she only feeds when I go out of town so I can deal). I have a rider that comes in and always thinks they need new shavings so I'll have the stall just about stripped...and then... shavings... Or... I'll have the perfect amount of shavings... and she'll add more.... (I don't strip it in a day, I do it slowly over a week when it's time to strip - I just keep pulling out and never put back in till it's a quick strip)...


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post #10 of 15 Old 08-09-2010, 01:33 PM
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When I clean the stalls, My first thing is to remove all the poo. Then I scratch the surface a little bit to find the pee spot. After it's removed (down to the clay), I usually sprinkle a little lime on and around it, and even the shavings out in the stall. Very rarely do I do a complete strip. I had to frequently this past winter in my mare's stall. She's very messy and likes to walk it around. She also tries to dig to China when it's feed time. I haven't had to do it at all since winter. My two only come in to eat. And they only do that because it's easier on me; instead of standing between the two of them and playing referree to keep them from stealing food from each other.

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