Spring is here, and with the onset of riding season, time is precious. Whether you are a farm or stable owner, instructor, professional in the show ring, or someone who just likes to hit the trails every weekend, there are lots of gadgets and gizmos that can help you save time and labor, and even help you have a little more fun doing the chores that horse ownership requires.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of equipment and gadgets, nor are we endorsing any that we include or saying we don’t like any that we leave out. We welcome you to share your time-saving and labor-saving gadgets and equipment in the comments section at the bottom of this article. Even if the product doesn’t save time or labor but makes the job more fun, please share it with us!
If you are interested in purchasing larger-ticket items, I would recommend that you visit the websites, watch videos of the products (if available), read testimonials, and see if someone in your area has the equipment that you can watch in action in your region.
Stalls and Manure
Whether you keep your horse in full-time or part-time, there are stalls to clean. Even if your horse is a 24/7 outside boarder, there is muck to manage. The good news is that there are many labor-saving devices today to help us manage manure more efficiently inside and out.
Super Scooper comes to us from Australia. It is lightweight piece of equipment that your garden tractor (or ATV) can tow over your fields to “scoop up” your manure piles. Then the wheels flip down to convert it into a trailer to haul the muck to a your designated manure pile. Unhitch the trailer and manually dump what you have collected. $1,300 plus freight from Michigan, with plans for more dealers across the country. For more information visit http://www.superscooperus.com/.
Pasture Vacuums aren’t new, but I’m surprised more small farm horse managers aren’t lining up to get them. They’re basically a high-powered shop vac that you can tow with your garden tractor or ATV. They have a motor and a long hose used to “suck up” those manure piles into a container. They also can be used to clean horse stalls. You can leave the vacuum attached to your towing vehicle and dump the collected manure. There are two sizes and prices can range from about $3,000-$4,500. For more information visit http://www.pasturevacuums.com/.
Brockwood Stall Shi*fter is used for sawdust bedding. It is supposed to remove everything larger than a kernel of corn and the manufacturers said it takes about five minutes to clean a 10x12 stall bedded about three inches deep. With this equipment you remove any wet bedding, roll in the Shi*fter, plug it in, and turn it on. Shovel bedding into the vibrating deck that allows clean bedding to drop out the bottom and manure to vibrate to the end of the deck and into a muck tub. Spread out the bedding once finished and you’re done! For more information visit http://www.brockwoodfarm.com/.
Stall Butler was on display at the recent Equine Affaire in Ohio. This equipment looks like a metal wire barrel sitting on its side and is also used on sawdust bedding. It is battery operated (so no need for extension cords), and it rotates so that bedding and manure thrown into the barrel are separated as the barrel turns, with particles larger than a marble being rolled out into your muck tub. Just spread the cleaned bedding around the stall once done. For more information visit http://www.stallbutler.com/index.html.
We love spending time with our horses, but often we spend 90% of our time caring for our horse and 10% (or less) actually riding them! We want to give them the best care and attention, but doing so in a time-saving manner would also be nice. Here are a few ideas to help you do that.
EZall Bathing Kit allows you to put your favorite shampoo into a container that attaches to your garden hose and “foams” the water/shampoo mixture onto your horse in the right combination. The kit comes with three tips that allow you to adjust the volume of water. For more information visit http://www.statelinetack.com/item/ezall-bathing-kit/SLT901596/.
Mrs. Conn’s Bath Day Enriched Sponges come pre-loaded with your choice of shampoo so all you do is wet your horse and start rubbing. The sponges come in Oatmeal, Fruit Smoothie, Fresh Herbal, Lemon Meringue, and Chaparral. The sponges last for “several full-body scrubs,” then the sponges are compostable. For more information visit http://www.mrsconns.com/.
Horse Blowers and Vacs are popular with some barns and stables. These come in a variety of sizes. They come in free-standing and backpack models. Some are blowers and vacuums all in one, and some are one or the other. For more information visit http://horseblower.com/ and http://www.backpackgroomer.co.uk/Site/home.html, which are two companies that offer horse vacs.
Defender Blanket Extender might not seem like a grooming tool, but how many of us have had a blanket that was just a bit tight rub the hair off your horse? To save the hair (and the make the blanket more comfortable on your horse), this seems like a great, inexpensive piece of equipment to have on hand. For more information visit http://www.horse.com/item/defender-blanket-extender/E005440/.
Having an arena--whether indoor or outdoor—helps with the training of our horses. It also is nice to have a place to conduct competitive events. But having an arena means keeping that arena neat and safe for horses and riders. That means grooming the footing and keeping it in tip-top shape. As farm owners and managers, we want to do that with as little time spent as possible. Here are some options that might be helpful.
The Lucas Ground Hog claims one pass of this equipment over your arena has it ready to go! This heavy-duty arena conditioner is pulled behind a tractor. This equipment has been used at the National Finals Rodeo arena. The company touts that this equipment provides a safe, level and consistent riding surface. You can also add watering functionality to the Ground Hog. This equipment was created because the company founder’s granddaughter competed in barrel racing and he wasn’t satisfied with the arena surfaces she was competing on. For more information visit http://lucasmetalworks.com/ground-hog/.
ABI offers a wide variety of arena drags and rakes, with and without water systems. They come in a variety of sizes depending on your towing equipment and arena size. Some are small enough to be pulled by your ATV. For more information visit http://www.abiattachments.com/arena-drag/.
Besides the pull-behind water tanks or the water tanks on the arena drags and rakes, several companies offer indoor and outdoor systems to help you keep the dust down and your arena footing at its best.
Sprinkler Doctor offers indoor and outdoor systems that are fully automated and require no hoses or water wagons. They build systems for your specific needs, then ship them to you for installation. Indoor arenas can have overhead sprinkler systems installed that keep nozzles out of the way and avoid overly wet and dry areas. For more information visit http://www.sprinklerdoctor.com/ArenaDustControl/tabid/2363/Default.aspx.
Kifko offers water reels that can be used in arenas, paddocks and fields. The reels come in various sizes that can water up to 80 acres or down to one small paddock. Water reels are easy to transport, so you can use the same one for your indoor or outdoor arena. Once you attach the reel to your water supply, just pull out the sprinkler and as it waters it automatically rolls back toward the reel. Once finished, it cuts itself off. They company noted that many customers use their horses to pull the reels to various locations to avoid machinery compacting the footing or ground. For more information visit http://www.kifco.com/en/applications/equestrian.
Again, this isn’t an exhaustive list, and we hope you will share your time-saving tools and equipment tips in the comments area below.