Improve Your Horse’s Health and Cut Down on Chores
by Alayne Blickle, Horses for Clean Water
Use of rubber stall mats offers an excellent manure management technique. The firm, level surface makes chore time simpler; you can easily scoop up manure and soiled bedding, leaving clean bedding behind. With stall mats you can reduce the amount of bedding you currently use in the stall or bed only in “potty spots.” Doing this will help you cut back on the amount of bedding used and the amount of stall waste you are left with to dispose of. The advantage to you as a horse owner is great as there is less waste by volume, less cost for you on bedding, less storage area needed for bedding and less time spent on stall cleaning chores.
A rubber stall mat is also a healthy surface for the horse to stand on or eat off of. It is level and firm, but with some “give” for a cushioning effect. Your vet or farrier will tell you that there are many horse health benefits to this type of stall flooring as opposed to an uneven, damp or hard stall surface.
Initially, rubber mats are a pricey investment, but they pay for themselves in stall cleaning convenience, reduced bedding costs and comfort for your horse.
HOW TO PROPERLY INSTALL A STALL MAT
First, gather together the following supplies:
- For stalls with bare (dirt or clay) floors you will need enough gravel (crushed rock, sized 3/8” to 5/8” to fill the stall area up to about 1” below the desired level. Do NOT use pea gravel or sand as this type of footing won’t compact. (For cement floors skip this step and begin at step #6 below).
- Stall mats (enough to cover the entire stall)
- Two vice grips (four is even better)
- Carpet knife (also called a utility knife)
- Straight edge at least 3’ long
- Tape measure
- Chalk (or chalk line) to mark the mats for cutting
- Hand compactor (rent or borrow this)
- Carpenter’s level
- Metal garden rake
- Two 2’ x 4’ boards — one should be treated & long enough to install across the front of the stall door, the other should be 6’ – 8’ long
Next, install mats:
- Attach the treated 2’ x 4’ across inside of the stall doorway (Note: Skip this step if your stall already has a lip or an edge at least 2 ½” high. For cement floors start with step #6 below.)
- Add 5/8” minus gravel gradually (spreading as you go) up to the top of the 2’x 4’.
- Use the garden rake to smooth and do a rough leveling of the gravel in the stall.
- Use the 6-8’ 2’ x 4’ and carpenter’s level to move the gravel around until the gravel in the entire stall is level.
- Compact gravel with hand compactor. The compacted gravel should be about 1” below the desired finish line.
- Use a long pry-bar or metal t-post to carry the mats to the stall area – 2 people can carry the bar with the mat draped across it.
Note: This next step is a critical part of the process. Minimize the number of cuts you have to make and avoid using small pieces of mat to fill in gaps as these will not hold up well over time (less than 2’ square is too small).
- Position all the mats that do not require cutting. Using vice grips as handles, maneuver the mats into position. Now, determine how you should cut the remaining mat(s).
- Measure the space remaining and mark the mats with chalk. Fit stall mats snuggly together, leaving about 1/8” to 1/4” space between mats.
- Use the straight edge and the utility knife to cut the mats (you will need to make multiple slices to cut all the way through the mat).
Planning ahead for next year’s summer vacation or weekend getaway with girlfriends? Looking for a safe, easy-access overnight horse motel for your travels? Visit Alayne Blickle at Sweet Pepper Ranch in Nampa, Idaho, www.SweetPepperRanch.com, at her guest ranch, horse motel and B&B.
Published January 2013 Issue