Horses spend a great deal of time in their stalls. When planning a barn, it is important to consider what type of material to use for the stall floors. Install flooring that is comfortable for the horse to stand on and provides good traction when the horse lies down and gets up. Utilize materials that will allow the horse’s urine and waste to drain properly. Horse stall flooring usually consists of a base, an intermediary layer and bedding.
Base materials for horse flooring can generally be divided into porous and non-porous materials. Non-porous materials do not allow for drainage, while porous materials allow waste and moisture to drain through. In either case, good drainage is important to keep the stall odor-free and dry, contributing towards your horse’s health and comfort.
Non-porous bases consist of material such as concrete, brick, asphalt or stone. Non-porous bases are the most durable and require very little maintenance. However, horse stalls built with non-porous bases must be designed to allow for proper drainage. This may consist of installing gutters on the sides of the stall or having the floor slope towards a drain.
Porous bases, which allow moisture to seep through the material, generally consist of material such as decomposed granite, clay, or topsoil. Porous bases tend to be slightly softer and allow for better drainage since water and moisture can soak through them. However, they require more maintenance since they are not solid and may shift unevenly based on wear and tear.
Consider using an intermediate layer of flooring between the base and the bedding, whether you use a porous or non-porous material for your floor base. This intermediate layer can consist of a shock-absorbing material such as rubber or flexible plastic polymers. This layer also provides the horse with traction when moving about and eases the strain of standing in place for extended periods of time. Rubber mats help protect the base from wear and tear, and in the case of porous materials, allow porous bases to maintain a level surface.
Horses like to sleep lying down in their stalls, so suitable bedding is important for your horse’s health and comfort. Horses that are kept in stalls without proper bedding may develop painful hock sores or blisters on their hocks. Use something that will provide proper cushioning and traction while soaking up excess moisture.
Types of Bedding
There are many different types of bedding available for horse stalls. Common materials include shavings, straw, or sawdust. Shavings provide good cushioning for your horse, but they tend to be bulky and difficult to discard. Straw is cheaper, but it can be flammable when dry and slippery when wet. When deciding what type of material to use as bedding on a horse’s stall, consider its ability to soak up horse waste, the amount of trash the used bedding might generate, flammability and whether the horse has any allergies to a particular material. Price is also an important consideration. Horses go through bedding quickly and it can be expensive to keep the stall floor properly covered.