Tack-Room Hacks: 36 Practical (and Some Unexpected) Uses for Everyday Items

Be prepared for any odd job around the barn with these everyday items

If you spend a lot of time with horses, you know there are certain tools—in addition to tack—that are simply barn essentials: brushes, hoof picks, brooms, shovels, buckets and more. However, there are some everyday items that might not necessarily spring to mind for the barn, but can be useful to keep on-hand for odd jobs and chores. 

(Photo by Amy K. Dragoo)

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Following are 36 everyday items that can be stored in your tack trunk, tack room or feed room that we bet you’ll be glad to have on hand. 

(Photo by Amy K. Dragoo)

1. White duct tape (yes, specifically white) has many uses around the barn. Not only can duct tape be used to patch blankets, repair fences and cover holes in a water hose in a pinch, white duct tape can also be nifty to leave notes or labels around the barn. Use a strip with a note in permanent marker to label brushes, feed bins and barn tools. You can also leave a note on your horse’s stall door to indicate “No Turnout” or a reminder to put on fly spray. The best part? Your note won’t blow away. 

2. A headlamp is one of the most unexpectedly useful tack trunk essentials. You can wear it while you lead a horse out to the field for night turnout (just make sure that you give your horse the chance to get used to it) or you can use it to load or unload your trailer in the early morning or after dark. You can also wear a headlamp while clipping your horse to improve visibility, or use it to see better if you’re scrubbing a horse’s white socks in a dimly lit wash stall. It will also come in handy for braiding in dark stalls on early show mornings. While you’re at it, buy two headlamps so you can store one in your trailer. They’re great to have on-hand in the event of a flat tire. 

3. A bungee cord can be used to hang up a fan or create a pop-up drying rack for wet saddle pads, boots and polos. 

4. Permanent markers have a million obvious uses around equestrian facilities, but some of the most important include clearly labeling feed containers and supplements. And, remember to buy at least two—one in black and one in silver to write on dark-colored surfaces.

5. Is it just us or do all of the dry-erase markers at the barn always seem dried up, with ink that’s too dull to read? Visibility really matters when it’s about important things, like medication notes written on the feed-room white board. Keep a few in your own tack trunk so you can always find one that works!

(Photo by Amy. K Dragoo)

6. There are plenty of uses for a measuring tape inside a barn. You can use it to evenly space bridle hooks as you’re setting up a tack room, take measurements for bits, saddles, girths, blankets and more. 

7. You can use Listerine (or a similar product) for lots of barn chores. For example, you can use it to clean water buckets and prevent the growth of germs and bacteria—just make sure to rinse it extra thoroughly before refilling the bucket with fresh water. Oddly, it also shines up patent leather on a bridle or a pair of tall boots. You can also mix it with a little bit of baby oil to apply at the base of an itchy tail. 

8. There are a lot of things to scrub around a barn, which means that a scrub brush has plenty of uses. Clean water buckets, bell boots, turnout boots, waterproof blankets, the inside of a trailer and more with a handy scrubber.  

9. To get a horse’s socks extra white, you can use a nail brush or a dish-soap dispenser brush or wand filled with shampoo or bluing. Here’s another use for a nail brush: It’s a great gentle way to clean off a helmet!  

10. Plastic containers with secure lids can store treats, medications and sponges away from pests like rodents and bugs. They’re also convenient for storing small pieces of hardware, spare keepers or braiding bands.   

11. Double-ended snaps or carabiners can be used on the ends of cross-ties, to hang buckets, fix gate latches, extend stall guards and more. 

12. It’s likely that you’ll find VetWrap and wound-care products for horses around the barn, but it’s less likely that a First-Aid Kit for humans will be readily available and fully stocked. That’s why it’s always a good idea to keep one in your tack trunk. 

13. There’s usually a pair of scissors lying somewhere around the barn, but they always seem to either disappear quickly or be so dull that they aren’t functional. Keep a pair of large scissors in your tack trunk to cut bailing twine or open packages. A pair of small children’s sized scissors can be great for trimming tails, bridle paths, manes and more. 

14. Rubber gloves are helpful to have available in case the need arises for emergency wound treatment, but they are also great to put on when applying poultice, dispensing ReguMate® or cleaning a horse’s sheath.

15. Cleaning tack is easier when you have a sponge that actually holds up and doesn’t fall apart. It’s also nifty to have multiple sponges for different uses—one for saddle soap, one for tack conditioner and another for oil.  

16. Keep hardware, nameplates, name tags, browbands and more sparkling clean with metal polish or wadding

17. Baby wipes are a tack-trunk staple. Use them to clean around your horse’s eyes, ears, nose and under his tail. You can also use them to quickly wipe the dust off of boots or remove sweat from a bridle. For those reasons, it’s also useful to carry a pack down to the warm-up arena at a show! 

18. Vaseline or a similar petroleum jelly can be used to prevent chafing around the horse’s mouth near the bit, as a salve for minor scrapes or to make it easier to insert a rectal thermometer. It can also be used as a “highlighter” around your horse’s eyes and nose to add a little bit of shine to his facial features on show day. 

19. WD-40 is great to have on hand to loosen up sticky hinges, gates and trailer hitches.

20. Use a binder to store your horse’s medical records, schedules, calendars, vaccination records, Coggins, registration papers and more.

21. Clip a zippered pencil pouch into the binder to store your horse’s FEI passport or breed registration papers. It’s the perfect size to keep everything safe and secure.

22. Use baby powder to brighten your horse’s stockings and socks.

23. Keep Ziploc bags in a variety of sizes handy to pre-package supplements, medications or feed for an overnight trip.

24. A roll of ClingWrap is useful when creating a sweat-wrap for your horse to remove heat from a swollen leg.

25. Keep a mini tool kit on hand to address small but important chores. For example, a hammer can dislodge an unsafe rusty nail from a stall. Or a screwdriver can help install a bridle rack in a tack locker. 

26. A four-compartment lingerie bag is useful for washing polos while preventing tangling and knotting. 

27. Elastic hair bands are always useful to have around in case the one you’re using breaks or disappears.

28. Tongue depressors are great for applying ointment without getting your hands messy and can also be helpful for scraping every last drop of a product out of a container.

29. A pressurized garden sprayer is a helpful tool for storing and applying fly spray or coat conditioner. They are quiet and sturdy. These bottles are also helpful if you normally buy sprays and sheens in bulk and need a smaller container for everyday application.

30. Baking soda can be used to scrub bits, buckets and more without the need for harsh chemicals or soaps.

31. Use diapers to hold poultices in hooves, then wrap and duct tape over them.

32. Desitin can help with Scratches or be applied to light-colored noses as a sunblock.

33. If you feed your horse corn oil or a similar oil supplement, store smaller amounts in a wide-mouth condiment bottle. It’s easier to administer. Corn oil can also go bad if stored in a feed room over the summer, so be sure to keep the full-sized bottle safely stored in a cool, dry place.

34. An electric hot water kettle is an easy way to heat water in a barn. You can use it to make a bran mash, clean wounds or tack or pour over frozen water buckets instead of chipping ice. (Don’t forget to buy one with an auto-shutoff feature!)

35. Keep epsom salt on hand to be prepared to soak hoof abscesses. You can also use it in your own bath water at home to soothe tired, aching muscles.

36. Use a utility tote
to store all of these nifty items. If you’re looking for the perfect gift for a practical equestrian or barn owner, fill up a functional tote bag with all, or just a few of the items mentioned in this list! 






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