How long does it take to muck out? 10 time saving tips!

When it comes to yard duties it seems like some people can ride 15, muck out 10 all in less than 7 minutes and before 5am! 😉

For mere mortals like myself though it takes a little longer to get through the morning stables routine (and multiple caffeine injections), but how long exactly? I’ve never really thought about how long it takes to get the horses sorted before going to work, I just leave a generous amount of time. So…..I timed myself!

Winter is here…. #gameofpones #Winterstables #muckingout #horseygirl #wheelbarrow #fork #shovel #earlyalarm #horsesofinstagram

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This is my weekday morning stables routine….

6.00am 1st alarm goes off. Hit snooze and doze off.

6.20am 2nd alarm goes off. Force myself to throw the duvet off my warm sleepy body and use the shock of the cold bedroom air as an incentive to get up and dressed quickly! Go to the bathroom to put on my “smelly horse clothes” which I already placed on top of the washing basket the night before. Get dressed in the bathroom to avoid turning on the main bedroom light and waking my other half (who is still snoring!)

6.23am Stumble down the stairs, say good morning to the dog, and put the kettle on. Travel mug and Earl Grey teabag already primed and ready from the night before. Whilst the kettle is boiling I go and get my gilet and outdoors coat on, and line up my wellies to slip on. Come back to the kitchen to finish my tea, and kiss and fuss the dog a bit more on the way past (dog is also still in bed!)

6.27 am Milk in, tea bag out. Wellies on, leave the house with torch to guide me to my car.

6.29am Radio 4 on and fiddle with the heater settings to clear the windscreen fog, then leave.

6.34am Arrive at yard. Wander about turning on lights. Lots of bleary eyed horses blinking back at me (they like my OH and the dog were also asleep!)

6.37am Get pre-made morning feed from the feed bin, add a scoop of beet, and tip into Bolly’s manger.

6.38am Go and get the wheelbarrow, B’s turnout rug and tools from feed shed. Cautiously drink some of my tea, inevitably burn my tongue as it’s still too hot to drink (I do this every morning, without fail) Look at BBC weather app to confirm rug choice and rug up B whilst he’s eating. He pulls disgruntled faces at my multitasking and would like to eat his food in peace thank you very much!


6.45am Finally he’s finished eating (chewing every mouthful 100 times), headcollar on, nose kisses and cuddles. Tell him how cute he looks today (it’s good for his self esteem) and then lead him out to the field to turn out.

6.47am Start mucking out, skipping all the droppings and wet into a pile in the middle and throwing all the clean shavings up the walls. Usually accompanied by singing of whatever song was in my head that morning when I woke up (this week’s playlist has consisted of: C’mon Eileen, Les Mis, Madonna, some classical tune I used to sing but now can’t remember what it’s called now and Chandalier by Sia minus the high notes) Empty water buckets and put outside stable. Shovel final mucked out mound into the wheelbarrow, sweep the stable floor, move wheelbarrow out of stable, sweep to the door and outside, shovel up the final little bit of mess into the barrow and it’s done.

7am Wrestle ridiculously large (and now heavy) wheelbarrow to the muck heap and empty. Go back to stable block and wash wellies off under the tap.

7.03am Back in the car, Radio 4 back on. Drink remaining tea (now cold) and set off home.

7.09 Arrive back home and walk dog/get showered, changed and ready to leave for work.

The whole routine takes 49 mins from start to finish. 9 mins from being asleep to setting off to the yard. 11 mins travelling. Only 13 mins of which are the actual mucking out part!

Also you might have twigged that this is not the full package, what about putting the bed back down? hay and water? ah ha……Mummy Groom and I have a horsey job share going on.

Because Dustry is turned out (with a field shelter down in the village) during the winter and Bolly is stabled (at the yard) and I work 9-5.30 and Mummy Groom runs her yard (so can be flexible with her day) we share yard duties to fit in with daylight hours etc.

She feeds Dustry in the field once it’s light and then arrives at the yard to do Bolly’s hay and water and put his bed down once the floor is dry, ready for evening stables.

This is the winter routine from October through to March and I can tell you I do not miss those 6am alarms by the time we get to March I am more than ready for 24/7 turn out to come back into full force 😉

So what’s your morning routine? how do you do yours?

Here are some time saving tips to help you achieve a mucking out personal best, and hopefully savour a few more minutes in bed!

1/ Make up feeds, hay-nets, and even fill spare water bucket the night before to save time in the morning.

2/ Stable your horse at night in a turn out rug, this eliminates putting a cold rug on in the morning, saves time and money on stable rugs and stops them getting wet if there are any holes in your stable roof/condensation drips/weather blows in.

3/ Get a timer plug for your hay steamer. I have a Haygain for Dustry and it does not have an inbuilt timer. A timer plug means I can set it running and leave knowing it will turn off after a specified time and not boil dry

4/ Find tools that suit the job. Shavings forks, muck scoops, rubber gloves whatever works for you use it.

5/Make up an old fly spray bottle with diluted disinfectant to give your stable floor a quick spritz to eliminate ammonia smells.

6/ I’m not pro-deep littering but some times leaving the wet for 2 days might be necessary. If so add a layer of wood pellets under your existing bed as they are super absorbent and contain the smell until you can do a full muck out the next day.

7/ Monitor your horse’s stabled behaviour and adjust your stable layout accordingly. Dustry when stabled used to stand looking out of the door 90% of the time, then lay down to sleep. Placing his water buckets and haynets on the same wall near the door meant that he ended up doing all his poos in one massive pile, so much easier to clean out! Simplify your stable, try to group your feed/water/hay in one area to make cleaning quicker.

8/ Muck out into one corner/the middle of the box and then shovel the final muck heap mound into the wheelbarrow in one go. I find this so much quicker than having the wheelbarrow in the box and putting each fork full in it and moving it about the stable to get to the next bit. Just pick the dirtiest patch of the box and much out onto that.

8/Download the BBC weather app to your phone (download the iPhone & Android versions here). This way you can pre-empt rain/wind/frost etc and prep for conditions the night before saving time the next morning. You’d be surprised how even freezing temps can impact on your daily routine.

9/Get a head torch. They leave your hands free and direct the light where your’re looking, ideal when up before dawn. Just don’t forget when you look directly at someone you are blinding them!

10/Finally if you have to do your horses and then drive straight to work then invest in a pair of these thermal waterproof overalls that are hitting the market. Keep your work clothes clean and smell free. Whip them off in one quick move and be ready and presentable for work! Also at the weekends I’m pretty sure you could get away with wearing PJs under them and no one would know!



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