Readers Share Recycling Ideas to Cut Costs Around the Barn

Readers Share Recycling Ideas to Cut Costs Around the Barn

Have extra horse shoes lying around? One reader suggested using them as hooks for hanging halters, lead ropes, fly masks, and other equipment around the barn.


Horse owners across the country share their tips, suggestions, and ideas for items that can be reused and recycled around a horse property to help save money. Remember, even though saving a few dollars is a nice treat, it's crucial to ensure your horse's health, welfare, and safety needs are adequately met and not hindered by penny pinching.

The frugal horseman's mats
I'd love to have more conveyor belting. Used conveyor belting is either free or cheap and makes great mats for barn isle ways, wash racks, outside stall doors. You can get them from rock quarry companies, landscaping materials supply companies--anyplace with a conveyor belt.--Karina Heiting-Sogge, Maple Valley, Wash.

Arena drag
If you go to the gravel yard looking for used belting, see if they also have old, worn-out screens used for filtering gravel sizes. Sometimes these make nice arena drags or harrows. Ask the pit operator if they give away or sell those and be prepared to dig around in piles of scrap metal it find them; bring heavy gloves and wear sturdy shoes. Good luck and happy hunting!--Elizabeth Clark, Enumclaw, Wash.

Scrap wood for projects
My husband just remodeled an office building and we've found lots of uses for old wood pieces. For one thing, we built the sides of our compost bins. Even though it isn't pressure treated, if it rots in a few years who cares? They're free and replacing them will be easy. We also built a stall door for our pony from the scrap wood. We had some old hinges and all we had to purchase was a door latch. Now the little shorty can see out of his stall at night, and for only about $4.--Angie Nebeker, Snohomish County, Wash.

Wooden fruit boxes feeders
We use the 4'x4' wood fruit boxes (from commercial fruit growers) as hay feeders in the paddocks. They reduce hay wastage and keep hay clean and off the dirt.--Peggy Dare, Bothell, Wash.

Horse shoes--more than good luck!
Old horseshoes secured to the edge of a wall make a great hook for hanging halters, ropes, fly masks, etc. We also used horseshoes to make a removable stall guard, barrier, or fence--two horseshoes on either side of a door with a 2x4 board resting between them. Horseshoes also make great barn decorations--put beads, etc. on them and make a wall hanging. Or decorate them and make picture frames. Of course you can weld them and make all sorts of nifty things.--Chris Woodworth, Redmond, Wash.

Water, water
My biggest recycling around our stable is water. My stock tanks and paddock buckets get the run off from shed roofs so I save hundreds of gallons of water/year. Recycling--what would we do without it!--Emily Wigley, Vashon, Wash.

Black gold
We've offered our composted manure as an auction item at charity auctions--either "u haul" or we'll deliver, if the bid amount is enough!--Dave Schneidler, Fall City, Wash.

Handy buckets
Here is one little "re-use" trick I have... My neighbor is the local franchise operator for Orange Julius. He periodically puts his 3½ gallon plastic buckets (which contained the fruit products for the drinks) out for recycling pick-up. I collect them to use as utility buckets both on the farm and on our boat. Since they don't have handles on them, I drill holes on either side, then braid a handle out of leftover bailing twine. I use these buckets for water at horse shows (no worries about them getting lost or stolen) and they make great wash buckets, or to hold odds and ends like gate hardware, latches, and the various stuff that invariably ends up in the barn.--Therese Jardine, Redmond, Wash.

Bag it
I use the plastic bags from the wood pellet bedding as garbage bags in the barn and (now that I think of it) will keep one in my saddle bags to pick up garbage along the trails.--Kitty Pearson, Issaquah, Wash.

Stall mats, second time around
Worn out stall mats are now in front of my exterior stall doors to keep gravel out of my barn. I also use them at gates to keep the path clear from weeds.--Sonja Kairis, Renton, Wash.

Energy savings
To recycle our equines' body heat in winter--as a way to keep the barn warm since each stall is open to the paddock--we buy plastic rug runners, the kind old ladies use to keep their hallway carpets clean. We cut them to the correct door length and hang them so they suspend down over the run-in doorways. It is surprising how much wind and cold these runners keep out. The horses have no trouble negotiating in or out through the plastic. Two, seven-foot runners will cover each door. The cost for doing three stall doorways this year was under $50. Compare that to the high cost of buying the same type of product from the equine companies that sell plastic door covers.
To save on electricity we have strung LED Christmas lights inside the barn. On an average night when feeding the LED lights give enough light for vision. This saves using the overhead floods that light up the barn like Coney Island. Plus, the Christmas lights are cheery on a cold winter night!--Catherine Luce, Wrentham, Mass.

It ain't too heavy: recycled concrete
We used recycled (i.e., crushed) concrete to build our farm driveway. It works really well for applications when you'd normally buy quarry rock in larger sizes (4-8 inch) such as building the base of a road. The top layer is crushed rock (5/-8-minus) because it looks nicer, but the base is all old concrete which is cheaper than buying new rock. For solidifying a wet, mushy base it works really well. In my old house I used broken concrete slabs to build a small retaining wall around my garden. It was free--my friend was redoing his driveway. Heavy, but free.--Neal Friedman, Woodinville, Wash.

Bailing twine: the duct tape of farms
I have collected and saved baling twine. It's easy to crochet them into little rugs to knock the dirt off the boots on the way into the tack or feed room or barn. They don't rot if left outside for a long time and wear like iron.--Sandy Siegrist, Pilot Mountain, N.C.

Paddock entertainment
Large carpet scraps can be wrapped around and secured on to vertical posts to give something for the horses to rub against. Obviously the posts must be strong and secure.--Gale Nelson, Sequim, Wash.

(For more cost-saving tips, watch for the the August 2012 issue of The Horse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care Cost-Saving Special Issue.)

About the Author

Alayne Blickle

Alayne Renée Blickle, a lifelong equestrian and reining competitor, is the creator/director of Horses for Clean Water, an award-winning, nationally acclaimed environmental education program for horse owners. Well known for her enthusiastic, down-to-earth approaches, Alayne is an educator and photojournalist who has worked with horse and livestock owners since 1990 teaching manure composting, pasture management, mud and dust control, water conservation, chemical use reduction, firewise controls and wildlife enhancement. She teaches and travels North America and writes for horse publications. Alayne and her husband raise and train their reining horses at their eco-sensitive guest ranch, Sweet Pepper Ranch, in sunny Nampa, Idaho. She also authors the Smart Horse Keeping blog.

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