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A friend recently asked me about the use of stall mats. They told me they had seen them in stalls with clay floors and wondered if this is necessary or just more waste of their money, so I researched it.
Horse stall mats are needed when you have hard flooring in your stalls. These durable and flexible surfaces provide health benefits for your animals, plus they’re easy to clean and save you money on bedding. Stall mats range in price from $40 for 4’x6′ sizes to over $400 for 12’x12′.
Some people believe that when it comes to longevity in equine health, you can’t put anything above adequate stall flooring to prevent lameness-but some disagree about what constitutes “adequate.”
Do horses need mats in their stalls?
Horse owners are divided on the necessity of stall mats for their horses. One camp believes that they provide a flexible surface that helps to protect horse legs from injury, while others argue there is no evidence to support this position.
Buying a horse mat for every stall you own may seem extravagant, but it can significantly improve the quality of life for a stalled horse.
Horses need mats for a healthy and comfortable experience in their stalls. Without a mat, wooden or concrete floors can be hard on the horse’s joints. Mats also provide even and firm footing for the horse.
Though horse mats aren’t strictly necessary, without them, you’d need to pay extra attention to your horse’s health and take the risk of slipping incidents.
- Mats are soft and insulated.
If your horse stall has a concrete floor, it can be very hard on the horse’s legs and hoofs. Concrete is also quite damp and cold in the winters. Therefore, it can discourage your horse from lying down and resting when it needs to.
Placing a mat on the stall floor will make standing and lying down more comfortable for the horse. Mats also provide good insulation and help the animals maintain a moderate body temperature without requiring horse blankets.
- Mats provide traction.
Mats are slip-resistant. If the floor gets wet when washing it or during rain, mats provide excellent traction to the horse. However, it would be best if you used a porous mat with good drainage features.
Horses pee a lot, and so their stall mat should drain adequately, or moisture and dirt will accumulate on the mat and create a slipping risk.
- Mats are easy to clean.
Keeping the stall clean becomes much simpler with a mat. Horses aren’t tempted to dig into the floor and make a mess. Any bugs and dirt are also quickly taken care of.
Wooden surfaces often get a foul odor due to urine or rot. Putting a mat on the wooden floor in your horse trailer or stall makes for good hygiene and straightforward cleaning.
To clean the mats, carry them out of the stall, hose them down with water, and disinfect both sides. You usually have to let the disinfectant stay on for some time before you hose again, let the mats dry, and place them back.
What are the sizes of horse stall mats?
Size is a critical factor when buying stall mats for horses. If the mat doesn’t match the size of your stall or if there are gaps between multiple mats, you or your horse might trip and sprain a muscle. Bits of hay and manure can also get stuck within these gaps and make cleaning with a pitchfork or shovel inconvenient.
Horse stall mats are available in many different sizes. The most common stall mats measure 4×6 and 12×12 (feet by feet). 2×2 and 3×3 sized stall mats also exist. These are generally considered portable versions of stall mats.
Consider the interlocking versions if you’re looking to put down multiple stall mats smaller than your space. They fit together more smoothly and take up less floor space.
Other mat sizes include 10×10, 10×12, 10×14, 10×16, 10×18, 10×20, 10×22, 10×24, 12×10, 12×14, 12×16, 12×18, 12×20, 12×22, 12×24, and 14×14.
The biggest piece I’ve seen measured 24×24. If you can’t find an exact size fit for your stall, many brands offer custom lengths for your mat.
Another important consideration: if the mat is too large for the stall, installing and removing it regularly for cleaning will be a hassle. The quality of the mat will also be affected as it will curl up around the edges.
How much do horse stall mats cost?
Horse stall mats can be pretty expensive if you own multiple horses. However, their quality and durability more than compensate for their cost.
Horse stall mats typically cost $2 to $3 per square foot. However, they may cost more depending on the thickness. For example, standard-sized 4×6 or 4×8 horse stall mats sell for $40 to $140. A standard 12×12 stall mat will cost about $400 to $600.
Stall mats with straight edges tend to be cheaper as compared to interlocking stall mats. Similarly, portable mats that come in 2×2 or 3×3 sizes are usually available for 10$ to 30$. These mats are pretty light and ideal for traveling with horses.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-install and flexible option that covers large areas, the interlocking rubber mat kit is a great solution.
With these mats costing as much as $300, they provide complete flexibility with compact pieces that can be moved around and linked to one another without any problem at all!
Should you buy interlocking stall mats?
Though many horse owners prefer straight edge stall mats simply because horses often playfully pull on the corners, you should consider interlocking stall mats for the following reasons.
The immediate advantage of interlocking stall mats is that the pieces come together seamlessly. They are also easy to carry around and stack in pieces.
Another benefit of interlocking stall mats is how quickly you can clean them. If a particular portion of the stall gets dirty, you don’t have to remove the whole mat to clean it.
Instead, you can detach the individual pieces, clean them, and put them back in their places. In contrast to straight edge mats, interlocking mats can fit into different shapes and sizes.
Besides using them in the stall, you can take them to farrier areas and into horse trailers. I use a 4×6 rubber stall mat when I am grooming my horses to prevent horse fatigue.
In general, interlocking mats stay put more and don’t tend to curl up in the corners compared to straight edge mats.
How to choose horse stall mats?
When choosing new stall mats for your horse, you might see a lot of variety. However, you only need to consider a few essential features to make a good stall mat purchase.
- The thickness of the stall mat
The standard thickness for most stall mats is ¾ inch. This thickness is sufficient for most owners, along with some bedding on the mat. But if you want a mat that’s heavier and firmer, 1 to 2 inch thick mats are also available.
The thicker the mat, the less bedding you would need. Thicker mats are also less likely to bend or deform. In addition, they feel softer for the horse, provide better insulation, and are recommended for horses with laminitis or arthritis.
If a stall mat has good drainage, urine won’t spoil the bedding as much, and you will save more money on bedding. However, the surface underneath the mat should be able to drain thoroughly as well.
For example, impermeable concrete or wooden floor with dust particles will not drain effectively. So not only will it be difficult to clean the surface under the mat, the smell of urine can be harmful to the horse’s health.
Crushed stone or gravel can provide excellent urine drainage for stall flooring. I prefer a sound drainage system and porous mats, so the mats stay dry and clean for longer and require less bedding replacement.
- Mats for wash stalls
If you are looking for mats for bathing your horses, perforated stall mats are a good option. These have small holes within that allow the water to drain quickly. They’re waterproof and provide slip resistance to the horse.
However, some of the rubber stall mats give off a strong smell as a side-effect of their durability. Therefore, they aren’t recommended for indoor areas with poor ventilation or if you or an animal is particularly sensitive to odors.
The durability of horse stall mats depends on the quality of the rubber. Therefore, you should always purchase the mat from a reputable brand. Look for mats that have a long-lasting warranty. Quality horse stall mats can comfortably last for 20+ years.
Do you need to use bedding over stall mats?
Horse stall mats considerably reduce the amount of bedding required as compared to naked flooring. However, having no bedding over your stall mats is not advisable.
It would be best to use bedding like straw or wood shavings over stall mats to create a comfortable cushion source for the horse. Bedding also absorbs urine and prevents skin or respiratory diseases in horses.
One advantage of stall mats is that horses can’t dig through them with their hoofs. Hence, the bedding won’t mix with dirt as often, and you won’t have to go through it as much when cleaning the stall.
How many 4×6 stall mats do you need for a 12×12 stall?
A 12×12 stall mat covers an area of 144 square feet. A single 4×6 stall mat covers 24 square feet. So, you need six 4×6 stall mats to cover a 12×12 stall.