If you are anything like me organizing your tack room and keeping it organized are two entirely different things. I could spend an entire Saturday getting everything perfectly organized only to have it all messed up next week. Below are 13 awesome tips to help you not only organize your gear but trick your own brain into keeping it clean for good.
1) Everything needs its own place
This one may seem obvious but it’s not for some people. Step one in this process is unfortunately to organize your tack room. But while organizing your tack room make sure that you have a spot for everything. I’m not saying have a rack for your halters I’m saying have a hook for each separate item.
This plays on a bit of psychology that was used for years by messy guys trying to keep their tools organized. They would take their tools hang them on their own hanger and then trace them with paint.
Subconsciously your mind notices the missing item and you want to fill the missing piece. This urge to fill the missing places helps you to pick up after yourself after each and every project.
The same can be applied to our tack rooms as many of the items we like to store are stored on the wall. Much like a pegboard in a garage if we hang our items one per hanger we will see the empty hanger and want to fix the missing piece.
I’m not saying that you should outline all of your tack, but if you are really having issues with keeping it organized it may be worth a shot.
Putting this in place is sure to help you in the long run. In my current tack room for example, I have a small decorative rack where we keep our bridles and halters. This rack has become overrun and highly unorganized as the years have gone by.
2) Shelves are awesome but cubbies are better
Some of you may think that this is clearly an opinion of mine. But you would be wrong, it’s a fact. When I try to organize my own things on shelves I often find that over time the items tend to wander.
Cubbies can help prevent those items from wandering into a cluttered mess where you need to take down five things to get at that one thing in the back. This is a hassle, and when things are harder we are less likely to put them back where they should go.
Cubbies can mean more than just your typical grade-school square. Cubbies could be baskets or even cardboard dividers. The idea here, much like the first item in the list, is to keep everything in its own spot.
I really like the idea of having individual “stalls” for each horse’s tack, this stall would look much like your standard tack box or tack closet. And would contain everything that you need for that horse.
Taking things a step further you can break out your labeler or, in my case, tape and a sharpie, and start labeling each cubby. This gives you a sense of accountability that will help you to notice when things are not where they are supposed to be.
Giving yourself that sense of accountability and stopping your neatly stored items from wandering from place to place are going to all help you baby step your way to the nicest tack room on the block.
3) Organize each for each horse
This one admittedly is a bit of a continuation of the “everything has it’s own place.” But it breaks down the psychology just a little bit further.
What is the number one thing that people tend to say when you ask about how to solve a big problem? “Break it down into smaller more manageable pieces.” We can apply this by organizing our horse tack into smaller more manageable pieces.
The way that most makes sense to me is to break down our tack into each individual horse. I say this for a few reasons. First, each horse is likely only going to have one or two of each individual item. They will have one halter, one saddle, one or two saddle pads, etc. By breaking this down by horse this should help you to realize “Oh my halter isn’t where it should be”
Secondly, along the same lines, this approach helps you to manage your horse gear on a level that only scales with the number of horses and riders. If only one person is going out to ride, only one area has the chance to become messy. This will quickly become obvious which rider is messier as, at least in my house, we each have our preferred horse.
4) People have Things too
Don’t forget that people have things too. My current tack room setup is a combination of tack room and storage. My wife is planning on using this building to start her own business, and as time has passed the tack room has gotten smaller and the future office storage has gotten larger.
Obviously not everyone is going to be in the same boat as my wife and I; however, it is an important lesson. Where do people put their coats, hats, or gloves when they come into the tack room. Do they have a place to put things that they really don’t want to take riding with them?
This is a pretty simple solution but adding a coat rack and a place for muddy shoes will stop people from throwing their coat at the nearest location and kicking their nonriding shoes off by the door.
Don’t forget about electronics as well. I know when I ride I prefer to leave my cellphone behind. Obviously this depends on where I’m at but if I’m just riding near the house its nice to have a place to safely store it where I know it won’t be damaged. If you have some power to the building you could consider keeping a shelf with some chargers so that it could be plugged in and all charged up after you are done with your ride.
5) Build your own storage solutions
I’m not sure if you have looked recently but the prices of horse related storage solutions are quite spendy. Pinterest is full of awesome ideas for storing your horse tack and many of them are of the DIY variety.
I encourage you to build at least one of the storage racks or whatever in your tack room. This actually is another thing to trick your mind into wanting to keep the tack room clean and tidy.
When you spend time building something and making it look beautiful there is a very strong sense of accomplishment. Every time you walk into that tack room and see your beautiful halter rack or saddle rack you are going to think to yourself “I did that” This is going to provide you with an internal boost that will make you not only notice messes but have the drive to actually clean them up.
I have seen some awesome ideas such as using a shoe door organizer as a way to store brushes and other grooming equipment. They do not need to be an all-out trip to the hardware store to buy the tools needed to actually build something. If you have them on hand, great! If not you will just need to be a little more creative as you search for ideas.
6) Have help
If you can it helps to have help. Personally I have a huge problem with keeping myself accountable. Often times I commit myself to keep my tools in the garage clean but currently, it looks like a hoarder’s paradise.
When you have a goal like this and you have a similar problem to my own it can really help to get somebody else invested in the situation. Get them to hold you accountable for keeping your tack room tidy. They can constantly ask you “is the tack room clean” and you will be forced to either happily say “Yes it is” or shamefully say that it is not.
In some cases you may not be able to rely on someone to keep you in line so below are a few ideas to help you up your accountability.
- Have Alexa or GoogleHome give you a reminder
- Set a weekly alarm on your phone
- Create a weekly checklist and put it somewhere visible
- Write it in your calendar “clean tack room”
- Take a photo of your tack room and post it online weekly. Instagram is great for this as you will acquire people who want you to succeed.
7) Put money on the table
Here’s an awesome tip used in the fitness industry for people really struggling to keep their goals. What it involves is having a third party hang onto a bit of money for you, a lot of the time people use a check for this. Make the check out to a charity of your choosing.
Your third party will be instructed to mail this check to the charity if you don’t keep up on your goals. If you make your goals they don’t mail the check and you get to use that money for something fun to reward yourself.
If you are not able to complete the goal your money goes to a good cause. And you get to try again with another check.
How much money do you put on the table?
Ultimately this comes down to your own personal budget and finances. Not everyone’s situation is going to be the same here but the idea is to put enough money down that you will be motivated to continue your process. If you have a decent sized bank account and you put down $1 you won’t feel any pressure to complete it because a dollar doesn’t really mean anything. Think about what number will motivate you to succeed and put that up for grabs but don’t loose your house over the deal!
8) Add a checklist near the door
Sometimes we need to keep track of our progress at a smaller level. This idea is very popular in my day job and we use it to help us remember things. We refer to them as “information radiators.”
For developers this can be as simple as a sticky note on our monitor. But you put a note or a list of things that need to be completed in a highly visible location. This way you have no chance of not seeing it to remind you what needs to be done.
We can apply this same theory to our tack room organization by adding a checklist by the door. This checklist should include things that need to be done every time you ride.
Clicking the image above will download a printable copy of the horsetackdatabase tack room chore chart sent straight to your email.
9) Add some paint.
Adding a bit of paint to the inside of your tack room can do two amazing things for it. At least in the case of my tack room it is going to be a little bit on the darker side with only two small windows to provide natural light inside. We plan on adding a coat of light colored paint to the room as a way to brighten it up.
Additionally, this simple act of adding a little bit of color to your tack room is yet another brain trick to make you want to keep in neat and tidy. Adding some decor to the room, even just painting the walls, will make you look at the building not as a “storage shed” but as an extension of your own home.
This simple shift in the brain will help you to easily take those extra steps to put things where they go. This is the true killer of any form of organization. That one time when you are “just too busy” to put things away neatly that causes an avalanche of disorganization.
Making the building “your own” will give you a sense of pride that in some cases will allow you to overcome that lazy excuse and just take the extra thirty seconds to put things back on their respective hooks.
This doesn’t necessarily need to be the act of painting the walls. Try adding some knick·knacks to a windowsill Even adding some flowers and landscaping around your tack room can have similar effects. Just make the space inviting and something that you are going to want to keep clean.
10) Purge the unused
If you haven’t heard about the minimalist mindset your probably living under a rock. It has been a bit of a hot topic around many corners of the internet for a few years now.
The basic idea is to shift your mindset to only have the things that you really need. The trick here is to purge once and then only replace what needs to be replaced.
Yes, it could be very nice to have matching halters, blankets, and leg wraps for each day of the week (as a dude I really don’t see the appeal) but do you really need a separate halter for each day? Do you really need those fly masks you’ve been moving around for years despite never letting them touch a horse?
Many people who attempt to adopt this way of thinking tend to purge, rejoice in the awesome, shop, shop some more, and repeat. This way of thinking simply will not work for this task.
As we talked about earlier in the article everything needs it’s own space and the biggest killer of organization is laziness. You may start out with each day organized by the color wheel but I would bet that if your anything like me, and you probably are because you’ve read this far, that it will not stay that way.
11) Don’t forget about your muck tools
Muck tools are a very important part of any active barn. Lets face it our horses make poo, and they are happy to do their business anywhere they darn well please.
Keeping your muck tools clean, and organized can help you to actually use them on a regular basis. Regular cleaning leads to things being neat and tidy which gives you that sense of pride that I am always talking about.
I recommend storing your muck tools in a clean and dry place outside of your tack room but nearby. Bringing stinky tools into your nicely decorated tack room has a tendency to ruin the mood.
Consider adding a small garden locker to the outside of your tack room. This keeps them not only nearby but also enclosed and safe from the elements.
It also has the added benefit of adhering to rule #1 everything has its own space. Don’t just chuck them in there and hope for the best. Give them a hanger and put them away neatly.
12) Be mindful of new things
This one plays into some of the earlier rules but I wanted to reiterate my point about new things. If everything needs it’s own space, it’s own outlined spot on the pegboard if you will, then new things will also deserve the same treatment.
Purchasing new tack can be a very exciting idea that will bring joy as you open your Amazon box or swipe your card at the cash register. But eventually you are going to run out of space for all of these new and exciting things.
Eventually, when you run out of room, you will think to yourself “I need to get rid of some stuff.” you will happily do so and continue the cycle that I have already pointed out earlier. But really all you are doing is wasting your money.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we need new things, sometimes we just want new things and that is perfectly fine. Just don’t swipe that card without thinking first if this is something that you truly want.
13) Reward yourself
As time goes on it becomes harder and harder to keep your tack room organized. At the start of your journey you are going to be the most excited person in the world. Laziness will be dead to you as you charge forward with all of the organization one person can muster.
Eventually though, and most unfortunately, that excitement will wear and laziness will creep its self back into your mind.
One awesome way to keep your excitement levels high and laziness away is to give yourself a reward. Set a goal. For example, “I will keep my tack room clean and organized for the next three months.” Easy right? Add that date to your calendar and do something to reward your good behavior.
This act shortens the cycle of excitement and laziness so that most of the time you are working in the excitement phase.
This can be something as simple as ordering a pizza or as crazy as buying a new car. Although, you probably can’t buy a new car every three months so I would steer clear of this kind of reward.
Try to pick a small enough reward that you won’t break the bank but large enough that it is out of the norm for you and your family. Perhaps a family weekend getaway? A lot of this is going to depend on your own personal situation.
Organizing your tack room and keeping it that way are two very different tasks. The act of organizing is something that we all have done and continue to do as time goes on, but the real trick is to organize once and keep it looking the same as time goes on.
Hopefully, these tips help you as you work to keep your tack neat and tidy for years to come. Many of you will be able to take these tips and succeed instantly if this is not you do not get discouraged. Read through the article again and push onward towards a better you and the best tack room around.