Category Archives: Re-Use It

DIY Horse Toys

Of course you can buy horse toys if you like, but why? There are lots of ways to make horse toys of your own.

• Place pebbles, whole corn, dry beans, or pennies in well-washed half-gallon or gallon plastic milk jugs. Use baling twine to suspend jugs from the ceiling in your horse’s stall or pitch them into his paddock so he can toss them around.

• Traffic cones make great fling-it-around horse toys. Buy them at Lowe’s, Home Depot, or the like – don’t liberate them from roadside construction projects!

• Buy a secondhand tetherball and hang it in your horse’s stall.

• Toss old basketballs, soccer balls, footballs and the like in your horse’s paddock for him to play with. Buy them at yard sales or ask the athletic department at your local school for balls they would otherwise discard.

• Used 55-gallon plastic barrels with the top and bottom still intact and with or without a few stones inside make great toys to push around a paddock. Before buying, make certain they contained food-grade products, not toxic substances.

• Hang a cowbell in your horse’s stall. Don’t do it if you have close next door neighbors.

• Buy plush toy animals at yard sales, remove eyes and anything else your horse could choke on, then tie them together at intervals with strong rope. Hang the toy or simply place it where your horse can pick it up and fling it around.

• Place empty soda cans in a poly feed sack, fold it in half or in quarters. Secure it with a piece of duct tape and let your horse have at it.

• Drop apples in your horse’s water bucket or horse tank and let him bob for apples. Or float a rubber duckie in his bucket or the horse tank—fun!

• A strange one I saw online but that I bet horses would love: buy a large rutabaga (in Britain: a swede), drill a hole all the way through, then run a sturdy piece of rope through the center and suspend it where your horse can knock it around or nibble – his choice.

– An excerpt from Horse Tips & Tricks; More Than 400 Ways to Care for Your Horse Better, Safer, Faster, Cheaper, by Sue Weaver

Reusing Feed Sacks

Nowadays most feed manufacturers and retailers prefer poly weave plastic feed sacks over paper feed sacks for many reasons. For instance, poly sacks reduce or eliminate the need for shrink wrap on a pallet of feed because they hold up better than paper sacks when exposed to rain or snow. Poly sacks also reduce the number of sacks broken during moving, thus saving a lot of wasted feed.

Farm folks have always reused paper feed sacks as garbage bags but today’s poly weave bags bring a host of new possibilities to the table. And face it: if you buy commercial feed, you probably generate a lot of feed sacks in the course of a year. Use them or share them with Freecyclers ( Don’t let this resource go to waste.

• Poly sacks are perfect for storing off-season horse clothing like sheets, blankets, and turnout rugs. After cleaning, simply fold each one, place it in a poly sack, and seal it with duct tape. Slap a piece of duct tape on one side and label it with a permanent marker. They’re also great for storing off-season clothing.

• Both paper and poly sacks are great to use as mulch between plants in the garden. Lay them down, pile on a little dirt to keep them from blowing away, and you’re done. Paper sacks without plastic liners decompose over time but poly bags won’t, so you’ll have to pick them up at season’s end.

• Feed sacks are perfect for picking up after dogs. A poly sack holds a lot of poop without breaking. If you have extra sacks, offer them to a dog rescue for just this purpose; rescue folks will be delighted.

• Going to a show or expo? Cut a hole in the center of the bottom of a poly feed sack and slip it down over your show clothes hangers to protect your fancy duds.

• Transporting your saddle pads in a poly sack makes sense too.

• In a pinch you can cut a moderate-size hole in the side of a poly sack, pack it with hay, and then hang it in your horse’s stall as a single-use hay feeder.

• Stuff some sections of hay in a poly sack if you need to take some on a trip. A partially-filled hay net will usually fit in a poly sack too.

• Here’s how to stuff a hay net with a minimum of fuss: place the sections of hay in a feed sack, place the net over the mouth of the sack, then upend the sack and pull it out of the hay net. So easy!

• If you’re at the barn and your child wants to play in the rain, cut head and arm holes in a poly sack and let her wear it as a pullover raincoat. At home, make coverall art smocks the same way.

• To protect pre-measured bucket rations, cut a large enough square from a poly sack to cover the top and at least 6 inches down the sides, then secure it with baling twine or a bungee cord.

• Be crafty. Wrap gifts for horsey friends using poly or paper feed sacks, using baling twine for ribbon.

• Insert your dog’s bed in a poly sack to keep it clean. Or stuff a poly sack with straw, shavings, sheep’s fleece, or a pillow to create a comfy, water-resistant dog bed. Dog rescues would be thrilled to be given a bunch of these beds. Ask!

• Make a warm bed for barn cats by placing a comfy blanket in a feed sack and laying it on its side.

• Muddy dog? Muddy you? Use cut-open feed sacks to protect your car or truck’s seats and floors.

• Show your horsey daughter how to make schoolbook covers using cut-open poly sacks; they’re so much cooler than brown paper grocery bags!

• Place a feed sack under your horse’s hooves when applying hoof black or any other messy substance.

• Make a saddle cover to protect your saddle by cutting open a poly sack and placing it over your saddle.

• Stuff a poly sack with crumpled-up poly bags, duct tape it shut, and give it to your horse as a toy.

• Use feed sacks for recycling bins at home or the barn.

• Winterize the inside of a drafty building by stapling poly sacks over cracks and holes.

• There are lots of uses for feed sacks at home. Cut them open to use as shelf liners, to protect floors while painting or staining, or as a table cover to ward off canning spills or messy art projects. Protect food that will be in your freezer for awhile by double-bagging it inside of a poly sack. Keep your fireplace or wood stove area tidy by storing burnable paper and kindling in a feed sack.

• Use a cut-open feed sack to create sewing patterns.

• Going camping? Sew a few poly sacks together to make a 3 ½ foot by 6 foot rectangle and use it as a ground cloth under your sleeping bag. Or make a 7 foot by 6 foot rectangle and fold it in half to form the underside and topside of a bedroll to protect you from moisture and wind.

• Use poly sacks to tote heavy loads of garden produce.

• Load a poly sack with manure from your stable, goat or sheep yard, llama pen, rabbit hutch, or chicken coop and give it to friends who garden.

• Grow a feed sack garden. Poke holes in the bottom of poly sacks and fill them part way with potting soil. Roll down the top. Plant peppers, carrots, or what have you, but potatoes grow especially well this way. And to harvest your potatoes, all you have to do is upend the sack. No digging, yay! For complete instructions do a Web search for grow potatoes in feed sacks.

• Use crumpled feed sacks for packing material when shipping packages.

• Make a party beverage cooler. Dump 2 bags of ice in a poly sack and semi-submerge beverages in ice to keep them cool.

– An excerpt from Horse Tips & Tricks; More Than 400 Ways to Care for Your Horse Better, Safer, Faster, Cheaper, by Sue Weaver

Visit my Economical Horsekeeping blog to read and download more how-to items like this one.

Reuse It: Supplement Tubs and Buckets

Anyone who feeds their horses supplements knows that the tubs and buckets they come in pile up, and up and up and up. What to do with them, beyond hauling them to the recycling center? Lots.

*Think outside the box. We’ve used a large, rectangular supplement container as a hamper and to carry wet laundry to the clothesline for over 15 years. It’s tougher than any laundry basket ever made. We love it!

*Use lidded buckets for specialized storage: one for tack cleaning supplies, one for snaps salvaged from broken lead ropes, one for rags, one for horse treats and so on. Slap pieces of white or light-colored duct tape on the top and one side and label them with permanent marker. Stack them labeled side out.

*To make a cooling summertime treat for your horse, fill one half of a supplement container with flavored water (using a big glug of apple juice, Kool-Aid, whatever), then pop it in the freezer with some carrots or halved apples floating on the top. When it’s frozen, top it to the rim with more flavored water. When that’s frozen, run hot water on the outside to loosen the block of ice and place it in a pan for your horse’s enjoyment. Or, make one for your dog by freezing his favorite rubber toys in the block of ice.

*Make your farm sitter’s job easier by measuring each of your horse’s meals into a lidded supplement container, so all she has to do is dump them one meal at a time. The lids will keep mice and flies at bay. If you have more than one horse, label the containers using duct tape and marker.

*If you knit or crochet, take supplement buckets home and pop several balls of yarn in each, threading the ends through holes in the lid.

*On a similar note, cut a 1 ½-inch hole in the bottom of a small supplement bucket and edge the hole with duct tape. Stuff it full of plastic grocery bags, snap on the lid, and hang it by the bail. Then when you need a bag, pull it out through the hole in the bottom. No more tangles!

*All kinds of supplement tubs and buckets make great planters. To spruce them up, lightly rough up the sides with sandpaper and paint them using acrylic paint.

*Supplement buckets are the perfect size to house your kids’ small toys like Legos and Hot Wheels.

*Extension cords can be a pain to keep track of. Stuff each one in a supplement bucket or tub and label the outside.

*If you have a large bag of something, perhaps cat food for your barn cats, keep the big bag at home where mice can’t raid it and bring smaller supplies to the barn in a supplement bucket.

*Small supplement buckets make great water containers for barn dogs and cats. If you have more containers than you can use, contact dog and cat rescues in you area; chances are they they’d appreciate a supply.

*And if you still have too many, think Freecycle ( Lots of folks would love to have your extras.

– An excerpt from Horse Tips & Tricks; More Than 400 Ways to Care for Your Horse Better, Safer, Faster, Cheaper, by Sue Weaver