Horses spend most of their time on their feet. If your horse spends a great deal of time in a stall, it is important that the flooring be top quality to take good care of his feet and legs. Improper flooring can cause a wide variety of problems.
Wet, bacteria laden flooring (e.g. dirt) can cause hoof damage and lung damage due to accumulated ammonia vapor from soaked-in urine. Concrete and other hard surfaces can cause and exacerbate tendon problems and arthritis. Changing bedding frequently can help, but it is important to have a good quality foundation under the bedding.
As a foundation, plain dirt tends to become compacted and hard over time. Additionally, it can become uneven over years of constant use and wear. Good stall flooring is made up of layers. The top layer should be tough to withstand wear and tear, but it should also be comfortable for your horse. Concrete and asphalt are not a good choices for surface, but can make good sub floor if properly covered. It is best, however, for the sub-floor to be yielding and natural. A wood floor is acceptable, but crushed rock, turf or clay are better.
Another option is a combination of wood over gravel. Thick planks of outdoor quality wood make a sturdy floor. Putting gravel underneath provides stability and good drainage. One problem with this combination is that wood can become slick and presents potentially treacherous footing.
Whatever choices you make in materials, you must be sure of having good plans in place. Your basic floor should be level and raised off the ground by about 9 inches. A level floor will help prevent stress to your horses legs. Elevation off the ground prevents flooding and problems with rising damp.
Rubber Matting Is An Excellent Addition To Any Stall Floor
Once your floor is in place, you can enhance its function and extend its life through the use of rubber matting. These mats are earth-friendly because they are usually made from recycled tires. They provide affordable protection for your flooring investment and comfort for your horse.
When you choose thick, high quality, matting with a grooved or corrugated underside, you can literally expect a lifetime of good wear. The best mats are about half an inch thick, and will stay in place reliably and last forever.
When you use rubber matting, you should still use bedding to soak up accumulated urine and provide extra comfort for your horse. Muck out your stall regularly and always keep bedding fresh and clean. Doing so will help keep your matting in the best possible condition and help ensure your horse’s comfort and health.
A good rubber mat helps keep your horse’s hoofs dry and protected and provides good traction to prevent possible injury. Matting also prevents potentially lung damaging dustiness in your stall. It keeps the stall warmer in the winter time.
Rubber matting should be cut to fit the entire stall floor area wall-to-wall. Seams should be cut at a 90 degree angle to prevent moisture from seeping through and damaging your floor.
Good stall flooring is an investment, and you should view it as such. Don’t cut corners or pinch pennies. When you take the time to plan your stall floor well and invest in the best materials, you will save a great deal of money on vet bills and repair bills in the long term.