Fall is a beautiful season with crisp mornings, warm afternoons, and stunning foliage. The first crisp mornings of the season are a reminder that you need to get your small acreage horse property in order before the first snow flies.
The number of tasks to accomplish can seem overwhelming, so I keep a notebook with anything I need to remember for my Tucson horse boarding business. You can organize this any way you want, but I just write things down as I think of them in no particular order. By getting my thoughts onto paper I do not have to worry about forgetting anything. As you do your fall walk-through of your property, I highly recommend physically writing your thoughts in a notebook rather than taking notes in your smartphone. A hardback notebook will last longer than a soft-covered book, and I am currently crazy about this one (because pretty notebooks are more fun to write in!) You also need a good pen, and I exclusively use Pilot G2 in a variety of colors.
Once you have your notebook and pen in hand, it’s time to start making your list. These are the three areas of my small-acreage horse property where I focus my attention.
Fix Your Fence
After spending 16 winters in Montana I have learned that checking your fences before the weather turns is critical. Nothing is more miserable than fixing fence in frigid weather. Now that I have relocated to Arizona I am taking advantage of the cooler temperatures to check every fence on my property.
I work in a spiral pattern, starting with my boundary fence and working my way in. Because I operate a horse boarding facility and have other people’s horses in my care, I check everything very carefully. I do not want a boarder’s horse – or my own – running down the county road. I start with my perimeter fence. I have continuous pipe along the county road, and the three other sides are wire sheep fencing. I walk the full boundary and check every bar, every post, every wire. Make note of anything that needs repair.
Next, I spiral in to the next layer of fencing. At my property this is my arena, but if you are on a larger acreage this could be your cross fencing. Again, I walk the full fence line and check it top to bottom, making note of anything that needs repair. I have a roping arena, so I also take this opportunity to examine the alley, the chute, and the holding pen to make sure everything is in working order before roping season begins. If fall is the end of your riding season, this is a good time to make repairs so it is ready to go in the spring.
The final layer of fencing that I check is my horse pens. I do not have a barn at my Tucson horse boarding facility. Instead, all the horses live in 45’ x 55’ pipe corrals. This is when I check my automatic waterers and my shelters as well.
Once you have everything written down, drive to the farm supply store and buy all the materials you need. Do it now. Do not put it off. It is very easy to put off your project, then winter hits, and nothing gets done until spring. Go buy the supplies and fix your fence now.
Clean Your Barn
Unless your barn is heated, fall is your last opportunity to deep clean your barn. This includes stalls, the tack room, the feed room, and the alley.
To deep clean your stalls, start by stripping them of all bedding. Use a broom to sweep out the dust left behind. Remove your rubber mats (if you can) and power wash them. Once the mats are out you can re-level the stall with gravel so that the mats will sit evenly. Wash the stall walls with mild soap (Dawn Dish Soap is my go-to) and rinse well. Wash out the feeders and water buckets with mild soap as well. Replace any that are damaged. Let everything dry before replacing your mats and adding new bedding.
In the tack and feed rooms, I remove everything and sweep all the corners. Wash the walls with mild soap and mop the floor. Wash the exteriors of any feed storage containers, saddle racks, bridle hooks. Dust the light fixtures and change the light bulbs. If you have a smoke alarm, change the battery. Put everything back in one piece at a time, making sure that it is clean before you put it back in its place.
The final place I clean is the alley. Because this gets the most traffic it likely has the most dust. Use a broom or a leaf blower to remove any cobwebs hanging overhead and dust on top of the stalls. Use a leaf blower or an air compressor to blow the dust out of the alley and then power wash the floors and the exterior stall walls.
I love my Porter-Cable air compressor for cleaning my barn. I use this one and you can buy it here.
Prepare Your Trailer
Living in Tucson is a bit backwards and my riding season is just starting, but I clean my trailer in the fall anyway to remove the dust and grime from summer monsoons. If fall is the end of your riding season, this is the perfect time to get your trailer ready for storage.
My Titan Primo trailer is steel, so I start by walking around my trailer and noting any rust spots. I treat these with Goo Gone Rust Remover (buy it here), scrub with a stainless steel brush (buy them here), and then spot paint to prevent further damage.
Check your tires. If the tread is wearing down, start budgeting to replace them in the spring. Check your spare as well, and budget for replacement if needed.
Next, I move into the horse area. I remove my mats, power wash them, and then power wash the inside of the trailer. Replace the mats when everything has dried thoroughly. Sun Joe makes an economical pressure washer that holds up well to the demands of cleaning the barn and the trailer. I use this model and you can buy it here.
The tack room requires the most time. I remove everything in there and clean every corner with a broom and a shop vac. I check the seals around the windows to make sure I will not have any leaks from winter moisture. Finally, I decide which items can stay in the trailer and which should move into the tack room, and then reorganize everything.
Enjoy the Season
Fall riding can be the best of the year. Your horse is fit, the temperatures are cooler, and friends are ready to hit the trails. Although it may be difficult to convince yourself to spend these beautiful days preparing your small-acreage horse property for winter, these tasks will be much more pleasant in the crisp fall air instead of the bitterness of a winter afternoon. Check your fence, clean your barn, and clean your trailer, and you can enjoy the rest of your riding season knowing that everything will be in good repair when spring comes.
What do you do to prepare your property for fall? Let me know in the comments below!
Welcome! I've been a freelance writer since 2002 and have numerous horse-related articles published in print and online publications. I have a Bachelor of Science degree from Rocky Mountain College with a major in Equestrian Studies and a minor in Business Management. My current business ventures include High Plains Arena and real estate investing.