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Stall Flooring and Bedding: Choosing the Best Options for Your Horse’s Comfort and Health

Stall Flooring Basics

When it comes to horse care, the flooring in their stalls is a crucial factor that many horse owners don’t give enough thought to. While it may not seem like such a big deal, the wrong type of flooring can result in serious harm to your horse’s health.

On the other hand, a properly designed and maintained stall floor can improve your horse’s comfort, cleanliness, and overall well-being. In this article, we will go over the different components of a stall floor and the options for each, so that you can make an informed decision for your horse’s living space.

Base layer and drainage layer

The base layer is the foundation of the stall floor, and it is important in ensuring proper drainage. It should be made up of a compacted layer of dirt, clay, gravel, or sand.

The reason for this is that a compacted layer prevents the top layers from sinking or shifting, which can create safety hazards for your horse. The drainage layer, meanwhile, ensures that urine and water are able to effectively drain out of the stall.

This layer should be made up of a permeable material that allows water to pass through, such as stone dust or crushed rock. It should also be sloped slightly towards a drain to ensure that liquids are not pooling on the surface.

Stall mats for joint cushioning and easy cleaning

Stall mats are an essential part of horse stall flooring. These mats provide added cushioning for your horse’s joints, making it easier for them to stand and lie down.

They also help to insulate the stall, keeping your horse warm and comfortable. In addition to the added comfort they provide, stall mats are also beneficial for cleaning.

They make the stall much easier to maintain, as they prevent manure and urine from seeping into the base layer of the stall. Instead, these materials stay on the surface, and can be easily removed with a pitchfork or shovel.

When choosing stall mats, be sure to select ones that are made of high-quality rubber. These mats will last much longer and provide better cushioning than cheaper alternatives.

They should also have a textured surface to prevent slipping.

Bedding for absorbency and cushioning

Bedding is an essential component of a horse stall, as it provides absorbency and cushioning for your horse. Absorbency is crucial for maintaining a clean and healthy stall, as it helps to soak up urine and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

Additionally, bedding provides cushioning for your horse’s joints while they are standing and lying down. There are many options for stall bedding, including straw, shavings, and wood pellets.

  • Straw is the most traditional and affordable option, but it isn’t as absorbent as other materials.
  • Shavings are a popular choice, as they are absorbent and provide good cushioning.
  • Wood pellets are a newer option and are extremely absorbent, but they can be quite expensive.

Stall Floor Base

The base layer of a horse stall is an essential component, as it provides a sturdy foundation for the stall and ensures proper drainage. A good base layer should be compacted and even, with a slight slope towards the center or a drain.

There are several options for base materials, and the best choice will depend on the climate and conditions of your area. Dirt and clay are both commonly used for stall bases, as they are affordable and readily available.

However, these materials may not be suitable in areas with high levels of rainfall, as they can become saturated and unstable. Stone dust is another option, as it provides good drainage and is easy to maintain.

Limestone is also a popular choice, as it is durable and provides excellent drainage.


In conclusion, the flooring in your horse’s stall is an important consideration that should not be overlooked. Providing a comfortable, clean, and safe environment for your horse should be a top priority for any horse owner.

By understanding the different components of a stall floor and the options for each, you can make an informed decision that will benefit both you and your horse in the long run.

Stall Mats

Stall mats are a vital component of any horse stall, as they provide numerous benefits for both the horse and the owner. In this article, we will dive deeper into the benefits of rubber mats, options for size and thickness, cost and logistics of installation, and the importance of proper maintenance.

Benefits of Rubber Mats

Rubber mats are a popular choice for stall flooring due to their durability, comfort, labor reduction, cleaning, and protection qualities. These mats are sturdy and long-lasting, with a lifespan of up to 20 years with proper care.

In addition to their durability, rubber mats provide extra cushioning and support for a horse’s joints while standing or lying down, reducing the risk of injury and making it more comfortable for them to rest. Rubber mats also make stall cleaning less labor-intensive since they prevent manure and urine from seeping into the base layer of the stall, making it much easier to clean.

They also provide protection for the base layer by preventing it from developing holes or becoming damaged over time.

Options for Size and Thickness

When it comes to selecting the size and thickness of your rubber mats, there are many options to choose from. Mats typically come in sizes ranging from 4’x6′ to 12’x12′.

The size you choose will depend on the measurements of your horse stall. Measure the stall accurately before purchasing to ensure you are getting the right size of mat.

Thickness is another important consideration when selecting rubber mats. The thickness of stall mats ranges from 3/4 inch to 2 inches.

The thicker the mat, the more cushioning it provides to your horse. The thickness you choose depends on personal preference and the needs of your horse.

Some horses may require more cushioning than others.

Cost and Logistics of Installation

When it comes to the cost of rubber mats, it can vary depending on the size, thickness, and quality of the mat. Rubber mats tend to be more expensive than other stall flooring options, but they provide many benefits that can offset their cost in the long run.

The logistics of installing rubber mats can also be intensive since they are heavy and require some degree of skill for proper installation. The process of installation involves moving the mats into the stall, cutting them to fit if necessary, and securing them in place.

It’s important to remember that improper installation can cause safety hazards to you and your horse.

Stall Mat Maintenance

Proper maintenance is vital to ensure that your rubber stall mats remain in good condition. Water-resistant mats are essential since they prevent liquids – especially urine – from seeping underneath the mat, where it can create odors, harmful bacteria, and attract insects.

Cleaning the mats regularly is also an important part of maintenance as it helps to prevent the buildup of bacteria, fungi, and parasites. Regular cleaning and disinfecting with an appropriate product, and making sure mats are dry before use, can reduce odors and help to increase the longevity of the mats.

Finally, one of the common issues owners face with rubber mats is mats moving around inside the stall which presents a danger. Using a stall mat gripper such as Velcro strips and other creative solutions such as temporary ramp or lip at the edges or a non-slip pad between the mat and the flooring can help keep them in place and prevent tripping or slipping hazards for both horses and humans.


Stall mats are an essential purchase for any horse stall, providing numerous benefits for both horse and owner alike. With proper selection, installation and regular maintenance, rubber mats can provide many years of comfortable and clean service while also reducing the time and effort required by owners.

Always ensure that mats are clean, that liquids are unable to seep through, and that they remain firmly in place, to provide a safe and comfortable environment for your horse.

Stall Bedding

When it comes to stall bedding, there are several options to choose from. The most popular materials are shavings, pellets, and straw.

In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of each option, helping you make the best choice for your horse.

Common Bedding Options


Shavings are the most common type of bedding material used in horse stalls. They are made from wood and are a by-product from sawmills.

Softwood shavings are widely used for their high absorbency and softness while hardwood shavings have better resistance to decomposition.


Pellet bedding is another popular option for horse stall bedding. These small wood chips come in a bag, and when moistened, they break down and expand in size.

This bedding is highly absorbent and low on dust, making it a good option for horses suffering from respiratory issues.


Straw is traditionally the most popular bedding material in Europe and is an affordable option. This material is composed of leftover stalks of wheat, barley, or oats.

Straw is soft and provides some cushioning, but it is not very absorbent, and it may invite mites and molds.

Pros and Cons of Each Option


The benefits of shavings are that it is affordable, soft, and highly absorbent. However, shavings do come with their drawbacks.

They generate a lot of dust, which can be harmful to horses with respiratory issues. They also tend to break down and become compressed over time.


Pellet bedding has many benefits, including its high absorbency, low dust, and ease of storage. They are lightweight and straightforward to manage.

One of the drawbacks of pellet bedding is that it is more expensive than other options.


The advantage of straw is that it is cheap, but the disadvantage is that it is not very absorbent, tends to break down quickly, and may invite mites and molds which can be harmful to the horse. It may also be very dusty which can cause respiratory problems including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).


Best Rubber Matting and Its Benefits

When it comes to the best rubber matting for horse stalls, it is crucial to consider quality and thickness. The thicker the mat, the more cushioning it will provide for your horse’s joints.

High-quality mats are made of solid rubber, which is more durable and comfortable than mats made of recycled or low-quality rubber. Benefits of rubber matting include its durability and long-lasting properties, which make them a cost-effective option when compared to others.

They provide excellent cushioning, grip, and protection for your horse.

Worthiness of Horse Stall Mats

Horse stall mats are worth its cost due to the numerous benefits it offers horse owners.

They provide cushioning for the horse’s joints, absorb liquids, and reduce the labor required to maintain the stall. Stall mats also protect the base layer from developing holes or damage.

The mats’ square edges make cleaning easier and prevent waste from getting trapped in the corners.

Smell Duration of New Horse Stall Mats

The smell duration of new horse stall mats varies based on the quality and type of rubber used.

Most mats have an unpleasant odor that can last up to 2-3 weeks, but this depends on the quality of the mat. The smell typically fades with time and proper cleaning.

Inadvisability of Concrete Floors for Horse Stalls

Concrete floors are not an ideal option for horse stalls due to several reasons. One of the primary concerns is that concrete can absorb urine and moisture even with the application of sealers or coatings.

This can create an ammonia smell and provide a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to health issues for the horse and human. Concrete does not offer any cushioning to the horse’s joints, making it uncomfortable for them to stand and lie down on for extended periods of time.

Viability of Dirt Floors for Horse Stalls

Dirt floors can be used for horse stalls, provided the ground is flat, well leveled, and comfortable for the horse. The use of gravel or sand as a base layer can improve drainage, and soil stabilization products can be used to strengthen the soil.

However, this type of flooring requires regular maintenance, including raking and grading to keep it level and free of potholes. Converting dirt floors into more solid or permanent solutions can always be done later on.


In conclusion, the choice of stall bedding and flooring significantly impacts the comfort, well-being, and safety of your horse. Careful selection and maintenance of stall mats and bedding can make a significant difference in the cleanliness and cost-saving of horse stall management.

By weighing the benefits and drawbacks of each option, horse owners can make informed decisions to provide the best living conditions for their horses.

In conclusion, choosing the right stall flooring and bedding for your horse is crucial to their comfort, safety, and overall well-being.

Rubber mats provide cushioning, reduce labor, and protect the base layer while bedding options such as shavings, pellets, and straw offer different levels of absorbency and dust. In addition, addressing common FAQs such as the worthiness of horse stall mats and issues with concrete and dirt floors can give horse owners a clear idea of what to expect in managing their stalls.

It is essential to take care of the stall’s flooring and bedding to ensure the horse’s health, comfort, and happiness for years to come.


  • What are the common stall bedding options?
  • What are the pros and cons of shavings, pellets, and straw bedding?
  • What are the benefits of rubber matting?
  • Are horse stall mats worth the cost?
  • How long will it take for the new horse stall mat smell to disappear?
  • Why is concrete flooring inadvisable for horse stalls?
  • Can dirt floors be used for horse stalls?

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