Friends of OR often ask us how we come up with relevant topics about which to write week after week (after week). The answer is always the same: We generally choose to feature topics that are currently of significance in our lives. It feels authentic, and since we’re devoted equestrians, we figure those subjects may be intriguing to other equestrians, as well.
For the past couple of weeks, nothing has been more compelling than the KonMari Method, and the joy that it has sparked in one of our lives. That one (Courtney) twisted the other one’s (Elissa’s) arm about the theme of this week’s email, because it’s never too early for spring cleaning! And when you own a farm, spring cleaning means there’s a barn and a house that require attention. Below, we very briefly summarize the KonMari Method of decluttering, and then slightly-less-briefly explain how we adapted it to our respective stables in a way that was effective and cathartic (and involved inspo from the ‘gram).
CliffsNotes: The KonMari Method was developed by world-renowned expert in tidying, Marie Kondo, who has become famous for her simple philosophy: if an item doesn’t spark joy, throw it away. It’s her trick to organizing and decluttering, and though we’re a little late to the party (her book is a best seller and she has her own binge-able show on Netflix), we’ve hopped on the bandwagon (though we donate, recycle, or repurpose).
The Full Story: Though Marie’s strategy seems simple, it is actually a bit more complicated than we’ve let on. There are clear-cut rules and organizational tactics, as well as a very specific order of operations that is based on elementary psychology. We highlyrecommend the book, but if 206 pages about tidying doesn’t excite you the way it does us (read: Courtney), we got you.
Marie recommends decluttering in one fell swoop, starting with clothes, then books, papers, miscellany, and, finally, sentimental items. Essentially, one should begin with items of the least sentimental value, and slowly work toward the ashes of a beloved childhood goldfish. She is adamant that all items should be pulled from their hiding places and deposited in a pile in the center of a room, then each should be physically handled while the decision is made to keep or toss. It’s a time consuming process and can even be a bit of a workout (depending on one’s level of clutter), but in Marie we trust, and we promise the results are worth it!
Six Steps to a Tidy Tack Room
Step One: [Horse] Clothes
The OR stables feel organized. Blankets, fly masks, and the like are kept in plastic bins that are labeled with each horse’s name. However, once they were all pulled out of the dark corner of the hay loft and piled in the aisle, it was obvious that there was plenty to donate. Some blanket liners were threadbare and hit the trash heap, but many rain and fly sheets will see a second life on rescue or therapy horses that need them this spring. And (oh yeah!) there was a Back On Track blanket deep down there which is now getting some use again!
Step Two: Tack
Tack may be a subcategory of clothing, but this is what we tackled next. Many riders are of the opinion that there’s no such thing as a bit collection that is too large. Okay, fair … but chewed up Happy Mouths can be discarded and 4.5” snaffles are useless in a barn of large warmbloods, so we bet you can find a few for the donation bin like we did. We also donated or discarded several halters and leadropes, out-of-style bridles, and girths that are…um…(ahem) too small.
Step Three: Miscellany
Two weeks ago one of the OR steeds hooked his blanket on a water bucket. A power struggle ensued. It was touch and go, but the barn remained standing and the blanket won the battle. May the bucket rest in peace.
This anecdote is a long-winded way of saying that horses break stuff, and extras are simply part of the equation (snap hooks, anyone?). However, brushes with missing or mangled bristles, tattered towels, worn out brooms, permanently filthy fleece anything, stall forks with missing tines, therapeutic devices that didn’t work, and bottles of grooming products that didn’t live up to the hype should all hit the road. It can be hard to throw some of these things away because it feels wasteful, but keeping them in the very back of the tack room cupboard is no less wasteful than tossing them in the recycling bin.
Step Four: Mementos
This may seem like an odd topic in a barn, but they pile up! The (crappy, useless) halter that the new horse wore on his overseas trip, the number a tricky young horse was given at his first show*, and the countless ribbons we’ve all accumulated throughout our equestrian careers are things we can live without. Don’t worry, we actually can keep the memories without all the clutter!
*Okay, 744 might still be hanging in one of our tack rooms. Nobody is perfect.
Step Five: Get Organized (Then go for a ride. You earned it!)
We scoured the interwebs to find some savvy storage solutions for the stable essentials with which you have no plans to part. Scroll for inspiration!
If you are not yet familiar with VHM Woodworking in Denver, Colorado, we recommend giving them a follow. Their brilliant and beautiful solutions are designed with a fine tack room in mind. From trunks and tables to cavalettis and bar carts, they understand how equestrians roll.
Boarding at a commercial barn can feel a bit like living in a dorm, where personal effects migrate to a neighbor, or are borrowed then forgotten and never returned. These uniform lockers completely upend the conventional idea of a tack room by concealing messes, securing valuable items, and discreetly storing taped-up posters of pro-rider idols.
Since barn cats spark endless joy (and pest control), we like the idea of returning the favor with a feline-friendly nook for naps and snacks. We couldn’t resist sharing this #catcondo by Slatton Meadows Farm, an easy and clever addition to any barn.