Even for the most dedicated horse lover, mucking out the stables can be a downright unpleasant task. However, there are ways to make that task more bearable, if not outright enjoyable. Here are a few ideas to spruce up the experience of sprucing up those horse stalls.
Play some music. Whether you use a boombox or an iPod, listening to music can make a mindless, repetitive task seem to go more quickly. A song with a good strong beat will also help maintain a rhythm to the workflow, making it easier to keep a pace and to work long and strong. Whether you like country or club, plug in some tunes.
Bring a friend. Many hands make light work, and having someone to talk to while working can make a dirty, sweaty job just that bit easier. Also, twice the number of hands equals half the work. Not only will the experience seem faster, the whole job will be finished sooner, too. For extra efficiency, on those days when you have to be done as soon as possible, try assigning jobs so that everyone's time is used more effectively and efficiently. One person can empty the first wheelbarrow while the other is filling a second. In this case, more is—if not exactly merrier—at least mighty helpful.
Keep the air flowing. Mucking out the stables is hot, sweaty work even in the wintertime. It's also smelly and, at times, incredibly dusty. Weather permitting, make sure you've got those barn doors open wide to let air circulate. This will help cool you down and clear the air a bit so you're not choking on dust or the smell. If the weather is too inclement, consider cracking a window and using some strategically placed fans to keep the air moving and your lungs clear.
Freshen the place up. If you use sawdust or fresh straw to line your stalls, think about bringing at least a few bags or bales in before you start. As you clean the stalls, spread the sawdust or straw around, stall by stall (rather than all at the end). The fresh scent will help offset the odors you are trying to remove, and switching between different tasks will help break up the monotony of the whole job (though it is not as efficient).
Remember, you’re doing this for someone special. Take a few moments with your favorite horse right before you begin and right after you finish. Mucking out the stables is a dirty, messy job, but it's well worth it when compared to the love and loyalty of a good horse. Take some time with the horses that use the stable in order to remind yourself that cleaning stalls is more than just a smelly job. It's a part of having such wonderful animals in your life.
Mucking out stables may not be the most fun or most glamorous part of owning a horse, but that doesn't mean it has to be any more unpleasant a chore than necessary. It also doesn't mean that it can't be a rewarding experience, too. Just remember to reward yourself afterwards! You certainly deserve it.