1. Hotpot. If you don't have hot water in your barn, a hotpot is a lifesaver. It is great for boiling or warming water for use in bran mashes, cleaning tack, adding warm water to buckets, and having warm water available for veterinary procedures and/or wound cleaning. It is also great for defrosting the oil I add to my horses feed in the winter. I use my hotpot daily and it is one item that I couldn't be without. Never leave a plugged in hotpot unattended!
2. Dry Erase Board. A handy means of communication so everyone in the barn knows the schedule of the vet, farrier and dentist. I also have a personal one that I use for what I plan to accomplish that day in terms of riding, appointments and errands. It is also a handy way to record what items need to be purchased for the barn and what repairs need to be done. I use the Expo wet erase pens because they last a lot longer and are easier to read and write with than dry erase markers. To erase, simply use a damp cloth. I don't recommend erasing with your fingers because the ink will stain!
3. Long handled dust pan and small broom. Originally I used this to pick up dirt from picking hooves in the aisle and to pick up after the farrier. It is much easier to pick up the small dirt piles than to sweep the entire aisle each time I groom a horse. Not having to bend over when using a dust pan really makes a difference over the course of a day. I have also discovered it to be a great way to pick up the tiny manure flakes in the stall that the pitchfork misses. You know, the one that you try to pick up with the pitchfork and it falls through the tines about five times before you decide to bend over and pick it up. Now I don't have to bend over to pick it up! Actually, I can bypass trying to pick up the manure flake with the pitchfork and just use the dust pan!
4. Zip ties. Much easier to use than baling twine and lasts longer too! Make cross ties safety cross ties by adding zip ties to the rings on the wall. Can be used for temporary blanket repairs, hanging signs, the only limit is your imagination. I keep multiple sizes of zip ties handy depending on the particular need.
5. Mold inhibitor products. I keep my bridles in bridle bags and the high humidity of summer can cause the leather to mold. Damp Rid makes sachet sized packets that fit inside bridle bags and tack boxes to help prevent molding. These products do a great job of inhibiting mold formation.
6. Weatherband Radio. I keep a weatherband radio in the barn to keep up to date with the latest forecasts for blanketing the horses and also if a thunderstorm is coming through the area so I can plan accordingly.
7. Watch with a stopwatch function. Handy when you need to cold hose a leg for 20 minutes or for conditioning horses for competitions. I look for those that are water resistant so I don't have to take it off when hosing down a horse. I've had great luck with this one:
8. Lingerie bags with zippers. Great for washing horse boots or polos without the velcro sticking to everything. After I use the boots, I velcro the tabs closed as if they were on the horse. I put the boots inside a lingerie bag with a top close zipper. It is then easy to wash them in the machine and let them air dry. Larger versions of these bags work well for keeping leg wraps and leg bandages together for storage. I have a full set ready to go for shipping or wrapping a leg.
9. Magnetic Pick Up Tool. I originally bought one when were were having the overhangs installed to pick up stray nails. I've since discovered it works great for the aisle after the farrier to pick up the cut off ends of horse shoe nails. It works to help find lost horse shoes in taller grass, too.
10. Pet slicker brush. This product works great on cleaning sheepskin! Let the sheepskin dry thoroughly. Then take the slicker brush and brush vigorously against the nap. This action will remove imbedded dirt and sweat from sheepskin. I use it on halter covers, sheepskin lined bridle and breastplate parts, etc. Also works well on velcro.
11. Shed N Blade. Not only for shedding out horses during spring, but it also does a good job of removing embedded hair from velcro, wool or polarfleece coolers, horse blankets. You need to *lightly* go over these items so as not to damage the fabric! If you are patient enough, I've found this method works more effectively than the sticky tape rollers.
12. Helmet holders that allow air circulation. Putting a damp or sweaty helmet back in the tack box is a sure way to encourage mold growth. I like to hang my helmets on holders that allow them to air dry before the next use.
13. Muck tubs. Of course, they are handy for cleaning stalls but they provide other uses. When I grain or give soaked hay cubes in small quantities, muck tubs work well for feeding outdoors. Be sure to find a way to tie the handles to something permanent, whether it be the barn wall or some fencing. Horses love to knock over untethered muck tubs! I found a small feeding pan that fits perfectly inside the muck tub, so I can remove the pan in between feedings for cleaning and preventing the horses from using it as a frisbee!
Muck tubs are easier to use to water horses in the summer. I've found that the large Rubbermaid water tanks tend to accumulate algae pretty rapidly. Since I clean troughs daily in the summer, a muck tub is an ideal size for one horse. I clean and fill the tub in the morning so the water is cool and clean for the day. I will refill or top off the water as needed during the evening feedings. On very hot days the tub may need to be topped off, but most of the time I haven't found that to be necessary. Because muck tubs are smooth walled, they are much easier to keep clean.
Muck tub with removable feed pan
13. Find items that save you wasted motions. I think you don't realize how many wasted motions you make in daily activities until you've done them hundreds of times. The simple of act of having your grooming equipment in a box on the floor causes you to bend over numerous times during a grooming session. I never realized or minded it until I started getting older. I found a simple way to temporarily mount a grooming box on the wire baskets on the stall fronts so I don't have to bend down to get equipment when grooming a horse.
A tail strap wrapped around the stall bar and over the wire basket...
Holds a brush box at an easy height to work from!
14. A luggage scale for weighing hay
15. Gorilla Tape. Duct tape is a farm staple with multiple uses. Gorilla Tape is duct tape on steroids! It lasts much longer for wrapping hooves or other applications that require heavy duty duct tape.
16. Chicago Screws. These work well for small leather repairs where you may not want to bother stitching. If your horse has broken the throat snap of his leather halter, it is easy to remove the stitching around the snap, remove the broken snap and replace with a new version. Use a leather punch to make a hole in the center of the leather that holds the throat snap, and use a chicago screw to hold the leather in place. This makes replacing broken throat snaps a breeze.
17. Gate Wheels. If hanging a perfect gate is not your forte, gate wheels can make life so much easier. They allow you to open and close gates without having to lift the gate. The wheel also acts to help prevent the gate from sagging and putting extra pressure on the gate hinges.