Most horse owners like to use some sort of bedding in their horse’s stall. It gives the horse a softer, more comfortable spot when lying down, and it can also make the stall easier to keep clean and dry. Furthermore, bedding can help keep the horse warm by adding insulation value between the horse and the cold ground.
There are all kinds of bedding material available. Below are short descriptions of each:
Wheat straw: This is a comfortable, fairly fluffy bedding. Most equines will not attempt to eat it. It’s also semi-absorbant, so it gets heavy and hard to handle when wet. Make sure the straw is free of dust and mold.
Oat straw: This is another natural bedding, and it’s more absorbant than wheat straw. One problem with oat straw is that the horse might be tempted to eat it. Make sure the straw is clean and free of mold spores.
Pine straw: Pine straw is sometimes used as a stall bedding in the South. It’s cheap, but it settles quickly. Also, it provides little moisture absorption. The pine needles do give the stall a nice smell.
Sawdust: If you have connections with a nearby sawmill, sawdust can be cheap. It’s absorbant, but it might present a problem for horses with allergies or breathing conditions due to the dust and fine particles.
Wood shavings: This is probably the most popular type of stall bedding. It’s absorbant, fluffy, and it smells nice. Shavings from soft woods are best, but check for splinters. Shavings can get expensive when purchased in bags. Try to find a local source where you can purchase it in bulk. Most horse owners prefer pine or cedar shavings.
Peat moss: This type of bedding is often recommended by equine veterinarians. It’s practically dust free, so it’s a healthy alternative as far as the respiratory system is concerned. One problem with it is that because the moss is naturally dark, wet spots are hard to see. It’s also expensive.
Paper: Some horse owners are using shredded paper as bedding. It’s usually inexpensive, and it’s very absorbant. It’s also very messy, however, and disintegrates when wet, making removal difficult.
Wood pellets: These dehydrated wood shavings are super absorbant and make stall cleaning a breeze. They’re usually expensive, however, and don’t seem very comfortable. Some horsemen state that once the pellets absorb a little moisture, they will soften and provide more comfort. Also, some horse owners mix the pellets with sawdust. Since the wood pellets are sterile, you won’t have to worry about introducing bacteria into the stall.
Hemp: Hemp chips are quickly gaining popularity as a natural stall bedding. The HempChips brand is cleaned of dust and other impurities before being sold. Horses won’t eat the chips, and they’re twice as absorbant as wood shavings and are easy to clean. One problem is that supplies are limited.
Dry Stall: This is a relatively new product made of porous volcanic rock material. It’s permanent and is often used in combination with wood shavings to extend the life of the shavings and to add more moisture absorption.