Bedding for your Horse
"A tidy stable and yard enables a comfortable and stress-free existence"
The bed that you provide for your horse is a very important factor.
It contributes to the warmth and comfort of the stable and therefore to the welfare of the horse. The object is to provide a warm, dry bed that is absorbent and de-odorising.
A comfortable bed will encourage a horse to lie down and relax. The type of bedding you choose will depend on the following:
- Circumstances - cost, availability and storage facilities
- Disposal - how easy or difficult it is to dispose of manure
- Allergies - whether or not the horse (or owner!) has any allergies
Types of bedding
Wheat straw is the most common form of bedding. It should be dry, clean and not dusty and as far as possible free from grass and weeds. It is not suitable for horses that have respiratory problems or who have a tendency to eat their beds.
Dust extracted shavings make a good dust-free bed.
Diced paper is warm and dust free, but it is heavy when wet and some ponies are allergic to the ink.
Hemp core is made from the central core of a type of hemp plant.
Miscanthus (elephant grass) is finely chopped to provide a comfortable bed, which is lighter when wet and completely natural.
Rubber matting used alone or with other bedding is good where allergies are a problem and reduces bedding costs.
Guide to Mucking Out
Tools for mucking out include:
- A wheelbarrow and/or a muck sheet
- A skip
- A fork with blunted ends*
- A stable shovel
- A broom
- Strong rubber gloves
*If you use shavings you will find a shavings fork easier to use than an ordinary one.
Most beds are best mucked out thoroughly every day. Remove the soiled bedding (droppings and wet patches) and put the remaining clean bedding up to the sides of the stable. Sweep the floor thoroughly. This clean banked bedding can now be used to make the base for the new bed. Add new fresh bedding as required.
Shavings, paper, hemp and similar beddings can be managed on a semi-deep litter system. Remove droppings and wet patches daily, level the bed, lift and muck out thoroughly once or twice a week.
Deep litter bedding is a labour saving method; however the box must be large and airy. It involves removing the droppings and really wet patches daily and putting fresh bedding on top of the old. The stable is mucked out thoroughly at least every 6 to 8 weeks.
‘Bank’ the bedding around the walls of the stable to reduce the risk of the horse becoming cast (wedged against the wall and unable to get up) and injuring himself
Try to take the horse out of the box while you muck out. If this is impossible tie him up so that he cannot get out or injure himself.
Droppings should be removed frequently and if an absorbent area of bedding is used, this should be removed regularly.
Whatever the bedding material and system you use skip out (remove droppings) as often as possible.
At the end of winter, or more often if possible, pressure wash and disinfect the stable thoroughly.