How to Muck out a Stall With Shavings

Three Parts:Setting UpMucking Out the StallFinal Touches

Do you own a pony and they have shavings? Do you want to know how to clean it out? This article will tell you how.

Part 1
Setting Up

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    Take the horse out of the stall. Tie him up or put him in an empty stall or exercise area while you are working. A stall is a small place and you will need room to use your tools.
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    Choose your tools. You'll need need a manure rake, also called a manure fork: not the four-pronged fork used toss hay, but one with many prongs close together to prevent spills. Bring along a flat-tipped shovel for the shavings. Finally, grab a large muck bucket with a wide mouth for easy filling, or a wheelbarrow.
    • A plastic shovel is lighter, making the job less work.
    • For more room, keep the manure (muck) bucket or wheelbarrow outside the stall, as long as it does not impede the flow of horse traffic and become a hazard.
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    Check for problems. Take a minute to look around for anything that can cause a problem. Has a bucket been over turned? Can the horse reach the salt block? Has a nail worked its way out of a board? Is there anything laying around that should not have been left in the stall? Fix these problems before you start cleaning.
    • You can also check on the horse's health. Has he been drinking the usual amount of water, and did he eat his hay? Was he hot and sweating when he came out of the stall? Limping?

Part 2
Mucking Out the Stall

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    Remove obvious piles of manure. Using a pitchfork, lift any large manure piles into your wheelbarrow. You can gently shake the pitchfork or toss it, similar to a chef tossing a pan, to sift the clean shavings back onto the floor of the stall. Try not to take too many shavings, since they cost money.
    • For large piles, and wet piles especially, take care not to damage your fork. Only take part of the manure pile per scoop, starting at the top or sides. Slide the prongs forward until the manure is resting closer to the base of the prongs, where the weight has less leverage.
    • The manure should be well formed greenish-brown lumps of digested matter. If they are liquid "cow pies," there could be a diet or medical issue.
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    Rake up and remove wet shavings. There might be just one or two clear wet spots which are dark in color, or maybe the whole stall is one big stirred-up darkish mess. Dig all the way down to the floor of your stall to make sure you got it all, since the urine usually covers a much wider area than the surface darkening suggests. Rake back the shavings from the sides and corners to check for places you might have missed. You can use the back or side of the fork to push the bottom layer of wet shavings into a pile for scooping.
    • Be liberal when taking out wet shavings. Ammonia smell from urine can contribute to lung problems such as heaves, and standing in wet muck can give your horse foot problems such as thrush.
    • Leave the wet floor uncovered to dry while you continue cleaning out other wet areas.
    • Take note of each horse's "favorite spots." Geldings tend to urinate in the center of the stall while mares tend to urinate along the sides.
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    Sort out manure flakes from clean shavings. There are several methods of doing this. Some people like to pull all of the shavings into a pile in the middle of the stall and sift it out one scoop at a time, shaking clean shavings onto the sides and tossing out manure. Other people like to toss a mixed scoop of shavings at the wall, so that the manure pieces roll out and separate themselves. Or you can just shake the fork like a tambourine or use the "chef's toss" to sort it. Again, be sure to sift all the way down to the floor so you don't miss any buried pieces. Manure can give your horse thrush, and host fly and parasite larvae.
    • Sometimes old shavings will start getting darker colored, but remain dry and odorless. You can remove these to make your stall look crisp and fresh. Alternatively, move them to the horse's usual urine area so they can absorb the urine instead of the cleaner, fresher shavings.
    • Replace any shavings with mold or significant amounts of dust.
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    Change the hay and water hay. Remove any hay that is dusty, mostly stems, or covered in shavings, urine, or manure. Add new hay and water if necessary. Clear shaving away in a small area around the hay and the water bucket. This prevents the horse from inhaling or eating shavings, and minimizes the amount of shavings ruined due to spilled water.

Part 3
Final Touches

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    Deodorize (optional). Hydrated lime or baking soda will remove odors from wet patches on the floor. Sprinkle a little over them and let sit for at least a few minutes. Sweep up the lime or baking soda and drop it in the dirty muck bucket or wheelbarrow.
    • Use this sparingly, as it can irritate the horse's skin.
    • The longer you wait, the more moisture it will absorb.
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    Level out the shavings. Spread the shavings around using your rake or shovel. Add a fresh layer on top if necessary, and use the back of your fork to make it extra smooth. A good thick bed of shavings should be about 2 inches (5 cm) over a rubber mat, as much as 8 inches (20 cm) over a dirt floor, or as much as 14 inches (36 cm) over cement.
    • If your horse keeps parts of the stall clean, pile shavings up higher on the sides, where the horse likes to lie.
    • Be careful not to kick the shavings. If floating in the air, they may irritate your lungs or the horse's.
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    Return the horse to the stall. Check the stall one more time for any problems. Bring your tools out of the stall, and bring the horse back in. Step out of the stall, making sure the doors are well locked behind you.
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    Compost the waste. Deposit the waste in a proper compost pile. Make sure this is a place outside and away from humans and other animals. Let it break down and act as fertilizer, to use on crops or to sell. Make sure it breaks down to a well-rotted mixture before you use it as fertilizer.
    • If the horse is sick, be sure to rinse your tools with a bleach and water mixture. Take special care to haul the shavings far away from the rest of the horses.


    • Move the pony/horse out of the stall to make it easier.


  • You could get very dirty.

Things You'll Need

  • Wheelbarrow
  • Fork
  • Broom
  • Stable to clean out.

Article Info

Categories: Horses | Horse Care