Using 5S Methodology to Organize Your Tack Room

by Matt

By now you have probably heard of world-renowned organization expert and Netflix sensation, Marie Kondo, and her approach to home tidying and decluttering. But did you know that this system can also be used to organize your tack room? Kondo’s popular methodology is largely based on the 5S process for lean manufacturing, a universally recognized approach to keeping a clean and orderly environment to improve efficiency and reduce risks of mistakes and accidents. The ‘5S’ stand for 5 Japanese words, each representing steps that can be undertaken to achieve your ideal functional tack room and make the best use of its space:

1. Sort (Seiri):

First and foremost, you will want to sort through all your items and keep only what is needed. Making space will help clear your head and will make it easier to visualize your new set up. Throw away or recycle all expired products, worn-down saddle pads, old equipment or tools, and any excess material that you no longer use.

2. Set in Order (Seiton):

Make sure to set in order all your items so they can be arranged and identified easily. You should arrange and categorize all necessary items and have a designated place for everything. This will allow you to be more efficient at finding items and will help visualize what is required or out of space.

Tips to organize your equipment:

  • Use wall space to hang as many bulky items as possible: Saddles can be placed on a rack, while bridles, lead ropes, ear bonnets, bits, halters, and girths can be hanged on different hooks.
  • If adding space for saddle racks on the wall is not an option, you can place an elevated beam along the wall for your various saddles. Alternatively, you can use vertical space by adding a portable saddle or vertical pad rack.
  • Use labels for each horse and its corresponding tack or equipment.
  • Use saddle pad hangers with integrated rack on the wall or a portable hanger to neatly fold and hang all your saddle pads.
  • Set up a separate saddle pad drying rack to lay out your most recently used pads.
  • Hang extra hooks on the wall for your horse blankets
  • Put up a shelf or cabinet with different shelves categories for your cleaning supplies, first-aid medical kits, leather care products, etc.: use labels to identify each product category more easily.
  • Use a big box or trunk to put accessories you don’t need to access often.
  • Use a grooming tote or toolbox with separate compartments to help organize your brushes and other grooming essentials.

3. Shine/Sweep (Seiso):

How satisfying is it to walk into a clean, organized tack room and finding everything easily and conveniently? Keeping areas clean on a continuous basis will help identify if any equipment or items are missing or out of place. Ensuring your tack room is clean will reduce dust and dirt, which can cause contamination and potentially become a safety hazard.

4. Standardize (Seiketsu):

Standardizing is essentially embracing and repeating the first 3 steps to ensure they are part of a routine that everyone using the tack room can easily follow. This is a great way to start assigning responsibilities at your barn and set standards, for example, by sticking to a schedule and planning around specific tasks (i.e. Who is responsible for weekly cleaning? Who will be topping up betadine or equine hair detangler before it runs out?)

5. Sustain (Shitsuke):

To sustain a clean tack room, it is important for everyone to maintain this process everyday as a habit. No matter how many people use the tack room or have access to it, it is fundamental that everyone should be aligned as to where each thing belongs and makes a habit of putting it back in its place.

Implementing the 5S methodology in your barn can have many benefits, including reducing waste (by keeping track of what you are using and what brings value), while also making your barn a safer place. Keeping your tack room tidy and organized will make it less likely for others to trip over misplaced objects, while monitoring when important items are running low or when they need to be replaced. This method will help you find peace of mind and make your day-to-day at the barn so much easier!

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