How to Make a Horse Stall Drain Well

08-25-03 © Dan Brandenburg

Items you will need

  • 3/8 to 3/4-inch gravel fill

  • Compactor

  • Stall matting

Your horse needs a dry stall for several reasons. Wet hooves can foster disease. Saturated soil does not support weight. Trapped moisture also leads to decay, which can bring skin and respiratory problems. But, layering bedding over wetness to make the surface dry only adds soiled material to remove later. The obvious answer would be a sloped hard surface leading to a drain, but a severe slope does not work when considering the horse's needs. Non-level ground can lead to back and leg problems in a horse, though a slight even slant (1 1/2 to 2 percent grade) is allowable. Concrete is expensive, can damage hooves and joints and absorb uric acid. Wood can trap moisture and mold. Solid dirt does not drain well if compacted to hardness. Stall matting can be installed on any hard non-moving surface such as concrete, wood or asphalt for increased draining and horse comfort. For stables with dirt floors, using a combination of French drain and matting will drain best. French drain systems drain moisture quickly from a level, compacted soil surface. A French drain is a trench filled with rock that channels moisture from where you do not want it. Ideally, your stable will have a stall floor 12 inches above the outside ground level.

Dig out the floor of your stall between 8 and 18 inches. Installing rock across the entire stall gives more horizontal drain room to water and urine, but one or two channels at the stall walls are all that might be needed. If you plan to dig a single drain channel, slope the stall floor no more than 1 inch every 5 feet toward the drain channel.

Fill the channel with 2 inches of sand or rock dust.

Add a thick layer of 3/8 to 3/4-inch gravel, a minimum of 4 to 5 inches on top. It should be compacted well, returning to the original surface level.

Top this with a quality stall matting of vulcanized rubber or polyethylene resin and your horse stall should drain well.

Tips

  • Sand and soil can shift under the mats causing uneven tension on the mat material and can lead to tearing. Gravel must be well-compacted. Compacted stone is a permeable surface, so flat-bottomed stall mats will not trap moisture which could be a problem on a non-permeable surface such as concrete. For concrete stalls, choose grooved or footed-bottomed stall mats.

Warnings

  • If you use limestone in your base material, be aware it can dry hooves.

Photo Credits

  • 08-25-03 © Dan Brandenburg