Adding tack lockers to your farm keeps your barn aisles cleaner, makes your tack room tidier and gives your boarders a secure place to keep their stuff. And for the do-it-yourselfer, installing the lockers can be an easy job.
If lockers sound like a great idea, you have several options:
Build Your Own
“We needed someplace to store our saddles as well as bridles and grooming equipment,” says barn owner Spencer Williams. “When I couldn’t find what I wanted, I designed and built a tack cabinet.” Williams says the cabinet ended up being about 5.5’ (H) x 3.5’ (D) x 4’ (W). It includes room for three saddles, eight hooks for bridles, halters and other equipment, as well as shelves to hold grooming supplies. He added hasps and padlocks to the doors and feels it is a perfect way to store tack securely at a busy barn. If you build a locker, he does caution that you inspect the inside for protruding screws or nails. He filed down the ends of several screws so they wouldn’t gouge ugly marks in his saddles.
If, like Williams, you’re skilled with power tools and have the time to invest, designing and building your own lockers is a great solution. This lets you customize the lockers to fit your available space and the needs of the boarders at your facility. When designing lockers, first consider how many lockers you need—plan on at least one locker per boarded horse and space for your own equipment. Next, consider what type of equipment your clients need to store. Kathy and Jo Wenderoth of Fairwinds Equestrian Center in Littlestown, Pa., installed lockers that fit their English saddles, but Kathy says she wishes they had built some lockers big enough for western saddles, since some of their boarders ride western.
Bob and Terri Tobias of Swingin Gait Farm in Ridgeville, South Carolina, built relatively inexpensive tack lockers by using 2 x 4s for the frame, 5/8” thick plywood for the top, sides and bottom and attached a hasp so that their boarders can lock their cabinets. They advise anyone building lockers to “talk with your clients and find out exactly what their needs are. Don’t assume that everyone is going to want the same. Be willing to personalize each customer’s locker to meet his needs.” Customizing tack lockers (within reason) is a personal touch that can make a boarder happier.
You also have to decide where to put your lockers. Keith Taylor of Lake Koocanusa Arena in Eureka, Montana, placed his between the girders of his indoor arena. Other barn owners place them along the walls of the tackroom or along a wall in the barn aisle. Some even create a “locker room,” complete with seating. Make sure wherever you put them that your boarders have enough room to get into their lockers and remove their saddles without blocking the barn aisle or creating a huge traffic jam for others. Also, when building your own, you can decide whether to create built-in lockers or large tack-cabinets that can be moved. Depending on your skill and number of helpers, you can make a couple of small tack lockers or one large tack locker in a day.
If you have the skills to build your own lockers but aren’t sure how to create the design, you can purchase tack locker designs on-line. Elite Tack Design (www.elitetackdesign.com) offers several different tack locker plans. Bill Tschorn of Elite Tack Design started designing tack trunks and lockers over 20 years ago when his wife needed a place to store her tack. They now offer different plans that cost $44 each and include a list of needed materials and tools, plywood layout sheets to help you cut the plywood, and illustrated step-by-step instructions. Tschorn, who is a technical illustrator, drafter and graphics artist by trade, says, “I have carefully designed and illustrated each manual for the average home carpenter. This allows people to construct the cabinet with their own personal touch.”
Turning Pre-Made Cabinets into Lockers
If building a tack locker isn’t for you, you have other options. You can buy pre-made storage cabinets and modify them for use as tack lockers. Rubbermaid sells several different plastic storage cabinets that can work or you may find pre-made wooden cabinets in the garage storage or outdoor storage section of a home improvement store. You can purchase these, add saddle racks and bridle hooks inside, as well as hasps on the outside for locks, and have tack lockers that take little time to assemble. Another option for turning a storage cabinet into a tack locker is the HOSS Storage System available through The Organized Barn and Trailer (www.organizedbarn.com). The HOSS Storage System consists of a coated, rust-resistant metal panel that easily mounts on wood, plastic or metal walls with brackets and anchor screws. The system includes metal hooks, saddle racks, baskets and shelves that can be attached to the wire panel and reconfigured as needed. Michelle Rooney of The Organized Barn and Trailer says, “We offer several sizes of HOSS panels and have a number of customers that use the HOSS panels inside their lockers. Depending on the size of the locker, the panels can be mounted on the back wall and the inside of the door as well as a side wall. Our mounting brackets are low profile so they do not take up valuable real estate inside the locker.” As an extra perk, boarders may purchase additional items to customize the interior of their locker with the HOSS Storage System.
You can also purchase pre-made tack lockers and cabinets, install them in your barn in a single day (depending on the number of lockers you purchase) and be done. Dry Creek Tack (www.drycreektack.com) offers the Stable Mate, which we covered in the August issue of Stable Management. It includes two saddle racks and a metal grid on which you can place tack hooks. They slide out of the locker to make access easier. You can buy the Stable Mate along with a wood cabinet for $550 (including freight). Dry Creek Tack offers discounts for volume purchases.
The Organized Barn and Trailer also sells a tack locker made of marine grade plywood that is designed to fit the HOSS Storage System. A Ride in the Park Saddlery (www.arideinthepark.ab.ca) offers pre-made tack cabinets. They come in three configurations: tack cabinet with one saddle rack and four large, slide-out drawers; tack cabinet with one saddle rack, one large drawer and three small drawers; or, a tack cabinet with two saddle racks and drawers. A Ride in the Park ships tack cabinets anywhere in Canada, the US and Mexico and they offer discounts for group purchases. Adding tack lockers to your barn is an investment in time and money that pays off in happy boarders and a neater barn.