How to Muck Out a Stall

A stall (Canada), loose-box (UK) or stable is indoor housing for a horse or pony. They can be from 10 feet (3.0 m) square for a small pony to more than 12ftx14ft for a large horse. Mucking out means removing soiled bedding and is a very important part of daily stable management, as it keeps the stable smelling good and the horse healthy. There are many different types of bedding and ways of managing a bed. This article dealing with fully mucking out a shavings bed. So pick up your tools and clean that stall!


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    Remove the hay, water bucket and manger to avoid contamination and keep the stall clean. Removing the horse is also a good idea.
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    Remove all the bigger, more obvious droppings on the surface with the shavings fork or rubber glove. Sift the shavings through the pitchfork so all that remains is manure(droppings). Then, deposit the manure in the wheelbarrow.
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    When you have done this, toss the shavings to the sides of the stall, removing any droppings that fall out of them as you do so.
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    Scoop up the wet shavings with the shavings fork.
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    Sweep the floor and shovel up any remaining manure.
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    If possible, leave the floor to dry and air for a while before pulling back the shavings to lay the bed. Bank up the shavings against the walls.
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    If necessary, add new shavings. To open the bale, cut the tape with scissors or a special safety barn knife that has a recessed blade.
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    Use the four-pronged pitchfork to loosen them and dump them into the stall.
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    Spread the shavings around to make a comfortable stall.
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    Replace the water and feed bowls. If you couldn’t remove the water bowl because it was fixed to the wall, change the water.
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    Sweep the yard if necessary and put the tools back neatly. This is especially important if you are boarding your horse.


  • To avoid wasting bedding material, sift the pitchfork by shaking it until you are left with mostly manure.
  • Rubber matting is a different type of bedding that works very well when used with shavings. Less shavings have to be use saving time and money.
  • The smell can linger in your clothes and hair so if you are going somewhere afterwards change clothes.
  • Horse manure makes great fertilizer! Use it on your own grazing or sell it. Muck out directly into bags (like you empty bedding or feed bags) or compost it. Composted manure will sell for more.
  • If the horse remains in his stable 24 hours a day, the stable should be mucked out twice a day. Depending on how much turn out the horse gets you may have to skip out (remove dropping only – Step 2) in the evening.
  • Open the bedding bags carefully and they can be reused.
  • If you have more plastic bedding, feed and hay bags that you can reuse contact a company that can recycle them for you.
  • Alternatively use rubber gloves to pick up the manure. Hands are faster and waste less bedding. This is also less strain on your back.
  • Using a broom, not a yard brush, brush over the bedding to help make it flat and bring any remaining poo to the top.


  • Traditionally bedding is banked (heaped against the walls) to help stop the horse becoming cast (trapped against the wall). This is very difficult and not very effective with shavings. Wall mats or anti cast strips can help the horse find traction if he become cast.
  • If the horse is tied in the stall while you are mucking it out, he should have excellent stable manners. Make sure you don't accidentally hit or tap him with the pitchfork because if he spooks or kicks in the small space, both of you risk injury - plus, it would hurt.
  • For health, safety and convenience to yourself and your horse it is highly recommended that you remove the horse before mucking out, especially if the horses suffered from breathing problems.
  • Mucking out is physically demanding and can put a strain on your back. Wear rubber gloves to help protect your hands.
  • Disturbing a bed fills the air with dust and mold spores. Allergy and asthma sufferers should wear a dust mask and overalls.

Things You'll Need

  • Wheelbarrow
  • Shovel
  • Broom
  • Four-pronged fork
  • Shavings fork
  • Rubber or working gloves
  • Rubber Boots or comfortable work boots
  • Dust Mask
  • Apron

Article Info

Categories: Horse Care