There’s nothing worse than getting out to the barn and realizing that you either need something, have ran out of something or can’t find something that’s necessary for either a daily routine or an emergency. Almost as bad is realizing that you need to go out and spend your hard earned money for horse specific products when you weren’t expecting to – a little bit of money here and there can add up quickly, especially if you weren’t expecting the expense. When this happens, though, (and, trust me, it will – more than once in your life) it’s good to have an open mind and know a few little “horse-life hacks” that can get you through the day.
Life Hack #1 – Duct Tape and Masking Tape
Next time you drive by the hardware store, swing inside and pick yourself up a roll or two of good, old gray Duct Tape and some white “masking tape” (the stuff that painters will often use – don’t get the blue stuff). I can tell you that having these two things around the barn will save you both money and time, as they can be used for so many different things.
Does your horse wear a blanket? You know how those little toggle clips on the belly band have rubber keepers to keep the straps from coming undone? Well, those things are notoriously fragile, fall off, get lost, etc., and when you’re at the barn and worried about your horse’s belly band coming undone, pull out the duct tape – cut yourself a piece about ¼ inch thick and 4 inches long and wrap it underneath the metal toggle where the rubber band used to be. This should keep your blanket from coming undone.
At one time or another, we all use standing wraps on our horses. Ever worry about the Velcro on the outer wrap coming undone? Masking tape is the answer! Grab a strip and wrap it around the Velcro to hold things in place…if your horse gets into trouble, the masking tape (which has a paper like consistency) will rip easily, but it will keep those Velcro strips from getting caught or working themselves undone. This is especially useful for peace of mind while trailering with standing wraps!
Other uses for masking and duct tape…there are almost too many to count! From quick tack repairs to holding together a pair of chaps that’s broken ten minutes before you are set to go into the show ring…having duct tape and masking tape around will save you time, money and aggravation.
Life Hack #2 – Binder Twine
Yep, I’m talking about that colorful twine that holds hay bales together. At risk of sounding a bit like a hillbilly, I will tell you that I have been using binder twine for more things than I can say for years! This stuff is like gold when you get into a situation where you need something strong and easily wrap-able for a quick fix (and some long term ones as well).
Do you use hay bags or hay nets? Have you ever gotten out to the barn and found that your horse has eaten a hole out of the net, rendering it useless for slow feeding? Pull out a piece of binder twine and scissors and weave it back together!
Have you ever pulled up to the barn to find a fence board or stall panel down and there’s no one around with tools or material? Grab a few pieces of binder twine, tie them together and start wrapping…I guarantee that a good wrapping of this stuff will hold two stall panels together as well as any metal clamp in the short term, and my experience has shown it will do the same with a wooden fence board. Of course, this is just a temporary fix and you have to be careful not to leave any loose ends for your horse to get caught on, but in an emergency, this stuff works.
Again, there are too many uses for this stuff to count, from fixing a broken pair of reins or a headstall, to repairing lunge whips and attaching buckets to fences.
Four More Quick Hacks
Lunge Ropes – Tired of spending money on those flat, overpriced, nylon lunge ropes that always seem to get broken or ripped through your hands, cutting like a razor blade? Go down to your local hardware store and buy a length of circular, nylon-cotton blend “boat rope”, a snap and a snap clamp to make your own lunge rope. You can choose the exact length; I’ve had the one I made for over 3 years and everyone asks me where I bought it – best of all, it only cost about $10 to make!
Soften Spur Rowels – Do you ride with spurs? Well, for me, at home I like to have something “softer” and at shows I like something with a tad more bite, for my reining mare. I have a pair of scalloped rowel spurs which are pretty darned soft anyway, but at home I prefer something that just gives “pressure” and no poke at all, so I came up with a great hack. Take a strip of vet wrap and wrap it around the rowels of your spurs – it will stick and mold to itself so that you have a nice, safe, blunt ball at the end of your spurs. This is also great for youngsters just starting out with using spurs, and for young horses as well. If I think my mare needs a little “more” at shows, I’ll just cut off the vet wrap and I have my regular spurs back!
Luggage tags – Going for a trail ride? Grab a few of those handy plastic luggage tags and write all of your information and emergency contacts on them and attach one to your saddle in the event that you and your horse get separated. This will give you great peace of mind while you’re out and about.
Permanent Markers – Just go buy some, and keep them at the barn. From labeling buckets and blankets to writing special instructions on your horse’s stall sign, you will easily find 1000 uses for permanent markers. Quick side hack – if you need to remove permanent marker from a dry erase board, fly spray and a little elbow grease works great!