How to Keep Your Horse Stalls Clean and Spotless

August 27, 2020

How to Keep Your Horse Stalls Clean and Spotless

Owning a horse or baiting one is a milestone for any horse lover, but it comes with a lot of responsibility regarding your special friend's care. Working at keeping horse stalls clean is one of those responsibilities.

A poorly cleaned stall can cause several problems. A dirty stable can attract more flies and insects, which can cause an array of health problems for horses.

A wet stall can also cause hoof issues, such as thrush, which is a bacterial infection in the horses’ hoof. The hoof also may become too damp and unhealthy from a wet stall, causing your horse to throw a shoe. The ammonia from bedding soaked with urine can also be harmful if your horse inhales it. 

In consideration of preventing these health issues, here are some mucking out horse stall tips.

If you make a routine of horse stall maintenance, mucking out should take no more than 15 to 20 minutes a day. The best thing to do is schedule it into your day, preferably in the morning or sometime before your horse needs to come back from the paddock.

If you can't make it down to the stables, ask your yard manager or a friend if they can help you with mucking out rather than neglecting the task.

Cleaning a stable is a messy business, so do not wear your smart jods and boots while mucking out. The wet and muck can damage your leather boots and stitching, and your smart riding slacks may end up ruined.

Rather wear simple, more resilient clothes like:

— Jeans or overalls

— Wellies/rubber boots

— Work gloves to protect your hands from blisters, splinters from your tools, and callouses

Like with any task, having the right tools makes things so much easier. You will need essentials such as:

  • Shovel
  • Pitchfork
  • Shavings fork
  • Broom
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Surface disinfectant

Before you start, take your horse out to his pasture or put him in another stable if the weather is poor. While you can muck out with your horse in its stall, that situation is not ideal. The fumes from the bedding while cleaning won't be good for him, and you also run the risk of accidentally bumping him with your tools.

Take feed and water buckets out of the stable as well, and give them a good clean. You can replace them once you have thoroughly mucked out the stable.

Place your tools where you can reach them easily. It is also best to face your wheelbarrow in the direction you need to go as it's much easier to move it around without any muck in it.

Start Mucking Out

It's best to follow a step-by-step process with horse stall maintenance. Here's what to do:

  1. First, remove any droppings with the pitchfork for straw bedding and the shovel for shavings. Then, place the waste in the wheelbarrow. Sometimes, it is more efficient to use your gloved hands to pick up bits of droppings.
  2. Remove any soiled straw or sodden wood shavings. Use a pitchfork — or the shovel for very wet bedding — to do so. Again, place it in the wheelbarrow. Do not make your wheelbarrow too full, or it may be too heavy to maneuver.
  3. Take your wheelbarrow to the manure heap and place the muck on the newly soiled bedding pile. A good yard will typically sort out the manure area into three heaps — one for freshly mucked out bedding, one for medium, and one for mature manure. The last pile is ready for use as compost. The earlier piles have too much ammonia and may kill your plants.
  4. As you clean, scoop bedding that is still useful to the stall's sides so that the flooring gets exposed. Check to ensure you don't have any dirty bedding hiding under the cleaner material.
  5. You can disinfect the exposed floor and wait for it to dry out before replacing bedding. 
  6. You might need to top up with more bedding if you had to take a lot out in the mucking out process. Too little bedding can be uncomfortable for your horse and give him capped hocks. Bring fresh straw or shavings with your wheelbarrow. Straw often comes in bales, so you will need to pull off pieces according to how much you need. You can get shavings from your supplier in sacks or bags so that you can conveniently empty it into your stall.
  7. Make sure to replace bedding evenly over the flooring.
  8. Sweep up any errant straw or shavings in the stable and surrounding areas and ensure the bedding is neatly level in the stable. You can also use the broom to get rid of any cobwebs or other debris. 

Once in a while, you will need to remove all the old bedding, give the whole stable a deep clean, and put in a full load of new bedding. While all bedding is out, take the opportunity to disinfect the floors and walls.

Once the stable is dry, you can put in the fresh, clean bedding. Just be careful when using new shavings. The small dust-like particles and the fragrance from the wood can affect the horse's lungs. It can aggravate any underlying respiratory problems like Recurrent Airway Obstruction (RAO). If your horse has a respiratory problem, it is better to use straw or shavings that are not entirely new. 


As you can see, keeping horse stalls clean is all about routine and organization. Make sure you schedule mucking out into your day and that you have all the right tools available to do it.

Follow these horse stall tips, and you're sure to have a happy, healthy horse.

If you are not sure what to do in any particular circumstance, be sure to ask your yard manager for help.

For more horse care tips, subscribe to our mailing list to stay updated. 


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