As Churchill once said ‘tidiness is a virtue’ and who are we to argue with the man? Here at Horse Trek Holidays we get it – everyone is busy and when it comes to tidying and organising the tack room…well…we’d rather be riding. Which is completely understandable. So we have come up with 10 simple tips to make the daunting task of clearing out that tack room a little less of a headache for you. I know, we’re far too kind!
- JUST DO IT – as Nike would say.
We’ve heard it all before; your tack room isn’t a mess, things are merely arranged in an abstract manner, it’s simply an expression of your creative side, right? Sure, whatever you say. Well once we have admitted that maybe life would be a little easier once we’ve had a bit of a tidy up we just have to get on with it.
If you’re anything like us, time spent tidying usually breaks down like this :
7% actual cleaning
72% playing with stuff I’ve just found
As you may guess, not a lot gets done. So stop procrastinating, put on some loud music and get to it (Britney Spears ‘Work Bitch’ is a brilliant cleaning song). It also helps to have a reward system in place – say 1 chocolate based snack for every 5 small task completed.
The best way to keep things tidy overall is to do 1 BIG clean every month and a couple of little tidy ups every week. Staying on top things prevents the big build up of mess and helps in stopping the tack room looking like a scene from Armageddon.
2. LESS IS MORE
Owning less is better than organising more and quicker too. That’s right it’s time to get brutal and throw out all that unnecessary stuff you thought you needed. ‘When on earth did I buy this jar of Twinkle Toes Hoof Glitter?!’ I hear you cry. Exactly my point, get rid. It can be easy to collect things over time, so sort through all your tutt and just keep what you actually need and use. The probability is, if you haven’t used it in the past 4 months, forgot you owned it or are no longer sure what it is even for, then chances are you don’t need it – obviously if it’s the middle of summer, don’t throw out your winter rugs because you haven’t needed them recently, but you know what we mean. You can use this clean up to check over all you tack to see if any is need of repair. Throw out all old irreparable tack, bristle-less brushes, holey gloves and any other things you no longer want. If there are riding hats that are older than 5 years these should also be thrown out as they will no longer be fully protective. If there are any items that can be donated then set them aside and drop them off at your nearest rescue organisation i.e the R.S.P.C.A. Some tack shops have a ‘bit bin’ where old bits are donated to the poor old horses over in Egypt or similar.
3. I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW THE DIRT HAS GONE
So you’ve sorted through everything in the tack room and thrown out all the bits n bobs you don’t need. Oh you’ve found that thing you’ve been looking for all this time and thought lost forever, well done to you sir.
Now it’s time to get cracking ;
Firstly take out everything and I mean everything removable from the tack room – no, not the lightbulbs …
Put everything outside and set aside any tack that might need cleaning later. Get a bucket of hot water for anything that will need a scrub later – stirrups, bits, mud encrusted hoof picks etc. and leave them to soak while you’re busy tidying. Hang out all rugs and numnahs for an airing or wash any that need it. If you’re lazy like me you can shove head collars and other non perishable items into the dishwasher at home to save you from having to do too much manual labour in one day. The washing machine also works a treat – to save any damage try putting them inside a pillow case before putting them on to wash – just be sure to use a detergent that won’t irritate your horse later. Empty out all storage boxes and give them a quick dust off and pressure wash with the hosepipe to get rid of any gubbins that has built up over time. Now all that’s left to do is dust the entire tack room, and give the floor a thorough sweep and even a good mopping if you’re feeling fancy. Fun!
Obvious things such as cleaning the grime and muck that has accumulated on the windows will make a huge difference to the feel of your tack room. Letting more light in instantly adds a more welcoming feel to the room, and also enables you to see all those cobwebs in the corners of the ceiling that you hadn’t noticed before. Use some old scrunched up newspaper and a bottle of window cleaner and give them a good going over. Wipe the inside in a vertical motion and the outside horizontally – that way if there are any streaks left behind you know which side needs a rub down -thanks Kim and Aggy.
4. PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE
If you don’t have one already then it’s high time you invested in the wonderful invention that is the ‘bristle brush boot scraper thingy’. These handy little gadgets will prevent everybody traipsing mud, straw and the standard manure into your newly cleaned and sparkling tack room. There are a number of different ones out there from which to choose, such as this rustic style one on Amazon for a mere £16.99 which also doubles up as boot jack (win). You can fine them for every budget and they come in a variety of styles such as ‘hedgehog, squirrel and stag’ for those of you who want to add a touch of ‘country gent’ to your doorway. If your doormat needs replacing or you currently don’t have one in front of your tack room door then now would be a good time to buy a new one. Us horse folk aren’t exactly the cleanest bunch around now are we?
5. A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING AND EVERYTHING IN ITS’ PLACE
Take a bit of time to plan out the best way to store all your tack and this will make life much easier in the long run. For example hanging a small white board near the tack room door with any important notices for you an other riders, important numbers such as vets and farriers, reminders and other such info makes life easier for everyone in the yard. Hanging a clear bathroom organiser from the back of the tack room door so that you can easily access all the small items you use daily will save you searching through bags and bins trying to find them – hoof picks, sponges, fly spray, loose brushes etc. To prevent blankets from taking up too much room or going mouldy invest in a rug rack to vertically store them out of harms way.
6. LEAVE A PAPER TRAIL
Again for yards with multiple horses, it is super helpful if you have a reliable filing system. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just a simple ring binder from Smiths and some plastic wallets will do the job just fine. Be sure that the folders are easily accessible – if they are a pain to get to, chances are you won’t file paperwork immediately but leave documents on the side in a pile under an old tea mug.
I would suggest getting one folder per horse and another for yard accounts and other similar documents. Clearly label which folder is for which horse and ensure that the first page of each folder has each horse’s important information so that in the case of an emergency you can quickly get everything you and your vet may need. The last thing you want to be doing if your horse in trouble is to be sifting through unorganised documentation.
7. ALL MY MEN WEAR ENGLISH LEATHER…
Take good care of your leather goods and your leather goods will take care of you. We all know that the best way to maintain you leather tack is to treat it regularly…we also know that this is a bit of a sucky job that can get put off and forgotten about whenever possible. One of the most important things to do is to protect it : always apply leather protector on clean, dry leather. Apply it regularly and make sure it has finished drying before wearing/using it. The second most important thing is to store leather properly. Never store it in plastic bags or other nonporous containers, always store them in cool, dry places.
To ensure that you clean your tack on a regular basis you want to make it extremely easy and convenient to do – by creating your own cleaning station. So hang a tack cleaning hook from the ceiling and add a little shelf next to it on the wall for your leather soap and sponges. If you have a designated cleaning area inside your tack room, with everything you need easily to hand it is much more likely that you will keep on top of your leather care. Anything that makes your life easier is surely a good thing? Your tack will look all the better for being well maintained and it is also more likely that you will notice any wear and tear which might need repairing.
8. BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
One man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure. What may look like an old smelly pair of riding boots to your friend is in fact the beloved boots in which you won your first cross country event. Don’t want to chuck them out? Well make them in to some DIY decor – fill them with soil and a couple of plants et voila, plant pots. Got an old horse shoe laying around (who doesn’t)? Nail them into the wall near the doorway with some nails partially protruding – perfect to hang your car/ door keys from. Check out Pinterest for some cool ideas for turning your old tack from tutt into tada!
9. ALL THE COLOURS OF THE RAINBOW
Simple yet effective. If you have more than two or three horses at your yard it may be helpful to colour code your horses’ tack, brushes, feeding buckets etc. This makes it easy to keep track of everything and quickly see who’s stuff is who at a glance. This makes it especially easier for anyone that may be looking after your horses for you – you may be able to tell the rugs apart from the various rips and stains but not everyone has such an eye for detail as you do when it comes to your horses.
10/ TIDY AS YOU GO
OK so number 10 is an easy one, and something that many of you may already practice. If you do a quick tidy at the end of each day then you won’t find yourself surrounded by mess and feel unwilling to tidy up, let alone clean. It really is a massive time saver to do lots of little tidies and just make sure all the surface are clean and ready for a new day. It is also programmed into our DNA that we feel happier and more relaxed in a clutter free environment – something to do with being able to easily spot any sabre-tooth tigers that are lurking about to pounce.
So that’s it, our Top 10 Tips to a Tidy Tack Room. We hope they are useful and save you time, which means more time to be out there having fun. Go forth, be clean & tidy but most importantly: happy riding!