Stall Mats Conserve Time, Money
No horse owner likes to spend hours cleaning stalls that are perpetually damp or are ''bottomed out'' from circling. Stall mats are probably the best solution to many of the problems that exist in a horse's stall, with the added benefit of creating a safer environment.
Standing in a stall that is wet exposes horses to the risk of thrush. An uneven surface can contribute to the development of leg problems. At a minimum, an uncomfortable horse will be sore and stiff, making your equine friend less likely to respond as desired to your riding program. Stall mats are not only an affordable solution, but can actually prevent more expensive situations down the road. As in anything worth doing, good quality is important when choosing a stall mat. Look for a long lasting rubber mat with non-curl edges (or edges that do not raise up) and a non-skid surface. With a quality stall mat, you'll find you need less bedding while constructing a softer, more level standing surface for your horse.
Three-quarter-inch, dense rubber mats seem to work best for stalls (1/2'' mats are better suited for trailers or lower-traffic areas). In the popular 4'x6' size, the ¾'' mats weigh significantly more than thinner mats, making them more secure and providing surer footing for your horse. Correct installation is the key to having stall mats that will save you money in bedding costs, help keep your horse healthier, and save on cleaning time. Here are some tips to installing stall mats properly:
Start by adding dirt to even out the surface of the stall floor. Tamp well to help prevent excessive settling later.
Next, level the stall floor with screenings, approximately 4-6'' (limestone screenings work well; they are available from most stone companies). You may want to use a 2''x4'' short board to help move the screenings once they are in the stall. Use a level as you go to ensure you maintain an even surface. This creates a flat foundation for your mats and serves as a protective layer to keep dampness away from your horse's feet. They harden to form a solid and level surface when water is applied and then tamped.
Pull the mats into place using vise grips or channel locks. Because each mat can weigh as much as 100 pounds, these tools help make moving the mat much easier.
Finally, place mats side by side, making sure they are flush against each other. It is important that the mats fit tightly together and snugly against the stall wall. You may need to trim some of the mats to get a proper fit. Simply score the first cut with a utility knife; bend the stall mat along the score and follow again with the utility knife until your cut is made.
For bedding, consider using sawdust or shavings. They provide for a nice insulated, cushioned stall. Damp spots and manure are easy to spot and pick.
Follow these simple tips when installing the mats and you will save time, money and create a safer environment for you and your horse!
Debbie has over 45 years experience with horses and equine-related businesses. She has owned, trained, boarded horses and run stables at various times in her career. She is a certified fence installer, has given balanced riding lessons, and has shown horses in Western, Western Pleasure, Trail, English, Hunter/Jumper, Fox Hunting, Hunter Trials, Dressage and driving classes. Debbie has been involved in foaling, and just about every aspect of horse ownership possible, and she welcomes your questions and comments. If you are interested in using any articles by Debbie, please send her an email.