cleaning horse stalls

The Subtle Art of Cleaning Horse Stalls: Best Practices

by | Jul 8, 2023 | Equine Barn & Stall Supplies, Equine Stall Mucking

It’s an inescapable reality for horse owners and stable managers: cleaning horse stalls. Despite it not being the most glamorous aspect of equestrian life, it remains a critical component of maintaining your horse’s health and well-being. Mismanaged stalls can lead to various ailments including respiratory problems, hoof diseases, and other unpleasant conditions. For the uninformed, horse stall cleaning might seem straightforward, but it is more than simply removing waste; it’s a subtle art that requires attention to detail and proper techniques.

The Crucial Elements of Stall Cleaning

The first response of many novice caretakers might be to remove the visible manure and assume the job is done. However, this simplistic approach might just be skimming the surface of the issue. Manure, along with urine, can seep into the stall bedding, creating an unhealthy and unsanitary environment. The removal of this soiled bedding, known as mucking out, is a key aspect of stall cleaning. Mucking out should be performed regularly to ensure that your horse’s stall remains a clean, dry, and comfortable place.

Considerations for Stall Bedding

Horse bedding, often made from straw, wood shavings, or rubber matting, has a huge influence on the ease and effectiveness of cleaning. Wood shavings and straw are popular choices as they are highly absorbent, making the mucking out process more manageable. However, they may require more frequent changes and replenishment.

Utilizing rubber stall mats, such as the American Floor Mats – Horse/Stable Mats, beneath traditional bedding can significantly enhance the cleanliness of the stall. These mats are not only easier to clean but also provide a sturdy, non-slip surface for horses. When paired with regular bedding on top, they create a hygienic and comfortable environment for the horse. This dual-layer setup brings together the absorbency of traditional bedding with the durability and cleanliness of rubber mats, making the upkeep of the stall more manageable.

Related: Pelleted Bedding for Horses – Is it Worth it?

Choosing the Right Tools

Having the right tools for the job can transform stall cleaning from a strenuous chore into a manageable task. A sturdy, ergonomic muck fork such as Noble Equestrian Adjustable Wave Fork for Muck is an invaluable ally in your stall-cleaning endeavors. With its lightweight construction and durable tines, it makes the job of mucking out more efficient and less backbreaking.

Additionally, consider a good quality wheelbarrow or muck cart for transporting the soiled bedding and manure to your manure pile or bin. The Rubbermaid Big Wheel Agriculture Cart is an excellent option, known for its robust design and easy maneuverability.

Deep Cleaning Periods

Beyond the regular daily mucking out, deep cleaning of the stall is a necessary task that should be undertaken periodically, ideally every month. This involves removing all bedding, thoroughly cleaning the stall’s floor and walls, and disinfecting to kill any harmful microorganisms. This process can be made easier with the help of power washers and disinfectants designed specifically for barn use. The Simple Green Pro HD Heavy Duty Cleaner is a non-toxic yet powerful product that can effectively sanitize the stall, leaving it fresh and clean for new bedding.

Mastering Stall Cleaning Techniques

While mucking out, develop a systematic approach to ensure no corner is overlooked. Start from one end, methodically work your way to the other end, segregating the clean bedding from the soiled. Scoop up the manure and the damp, urine-soaked bedding with your muck fork and dispose of it into your wheelbarrow or muck cart. Once all visible waste and wet spots are removed, spread the clean bedding evenly across the stall floor.

The Importance of a Cleaning Schedule

Creating and adhering to a cleaning schedule is integral to maintaining stall hygiene. Depending on the horse’s habits and the number of hours it spends in the stall, you may need to clean the stall once or twice daily. Remember, consistency is key. Regular cleaning not only ensures a healthier environment for your horse but also makes each cleaning session less labor-intensive.

Controlling Odors

A common challenge in maintaining horse stalls is controlling the unpleasant odors. These can contribute to a poor quality environment and may cause respiratory issues in horses. One effective method to combat this is using stall deodorizers and absorbents. These products, like the SCENT AWAY Horse Stall Deodorizer Odor Eliminator, absorb moisture, neutralize odors, and provide a fresher, more pleasant stall environment.

Manure Management

Proper manure management is equally essential. Creating a designated composting area away from the stables helps control odors and flies while turning waste into nutrient-rich compost over time. This organic compost can be utilized in pastures or gardens, making manure disposal an ecologically-friendly cycle.

Related: Composting Horse Manure: The Proven Benefits for Your Garden


The task of cleaning horse stalls, while demanding, is a vital part of horse care that should never be taken lightly. A well-maintained stall directly impacts the health and happiness of your horse, fostering a comfortable, disease-free space for them to rest and recuperate. With the correct tools, a strategic approach, and consistent cleaning schedule, this chore can become a satisfying routine. Ultimately, the care and effort you invest into maintaining a clean environment will reflect in your horse’s well-being and performance. As with many aspects of horse care, when it comes to stall cleaning, a proactive approach is always the winning strategy.

About The Author

<a href="" target="_self">Issabella Mitchel</a>

Issabella Mitchel

Isabella is a remarkable equestrian and racehorse trainer, hailing from the horse capital of the world, Kentucky. Growing up in the heart of bluegrass country, she developed a deep affinity for horses from an early age.

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