Photo by Alayne Blickle
For stalls with bare floors add crushed rock to fill the stall area up to about 1î below the desired level. Smooth, level and compact gravel before positioning stall mats in place.
Use of rubber stall mats offers an excellent manure management technique. The firm, level surface makes chore time simpler; you can easily scoop up manure and soiled bedding, leaving clean bedding behind. With stall mats you can reduce the amount of bedding you currently use in the stall or bed only in "potty spots." Doing this will help you cut back on the amount of bedding used and the amount of stall waste you are left with to dispose of. The advantage to you as a horse owner is great; less waste by volume, less cost for you on bedding, less storage area needed for bedding and less time spent on stall cleaning chores.
A rubber stall mat is also a healthy surface for the horse to stand on. It is level and firm, but with some "give" for a cushioning effect. Your vet or farrier will also tell you that there are many horse health benefits to this type of stall flooring as opposed to an uneven, damp or hard stall surface.
Initially rubber mats are a pricey investment, but they pay for themselves in stall cleaning convenience, reduced bedding costs and comfort for your horse.
How to Properly Install a Stall Mat
First, gather together the following supplies:
- For stalls with bare (dirt or clay) floors you will need enough gravel (crushed rock, sized 3/8" to 5/8"to fill the stall area up to about 1" below the desired level. Do NOT use pea gravel or sand as this type of footing is too mushy and won't compact. (For cement floors you can skip this step and begin at step #6 below).
- Stall mats (enough to cover the entire stall)
- Two vice grips (four is even better)
- Carpet knife (also called a utility knife)
- Straight edge at least 3' long
- Tape measure
- Chalk (or chalk line) to mark the mats for cutting
- Hand compactor (you can rent or borrow this)
- Carpenter's level
- Metal garden rake
- Two 2x4 boards -- one should be treated & long enough to install across the front of the stall door, the other should be 6' - 8' long
Photo by Alayne Blickle
A rubber stall mat is also a healthy surface for the horse to stand on--and a clean, dry surface for a horse to eat off of.
Next, install the mats:
1. Attach the treated 2x4 across inside of the stall doorway (Note: Skip this step if your stall already has a lip or an edge at least 2 ½" high. For cement floors start with step #6 below.)
2. Add 5/8" minus gravel gradually (spreading as you go) up to the top of the 2x4.
3. Use the garden rake to smooth and do a rough leveling of the gravel in the stall.
4. Use the 6-8' 2x4 and carpenter's level to move the gravel around until the gravel in the entire stall is level.
5. Compact gravel with hand compactor. The compacted gravel should be about 1" below the desired finish line.
6. Use a long pry-bar or metal t-post to carry the mats to the stall area - two people can carry the bar with the mat draped across it.
Note: This next step is a critical part of the process. Minimize the number of cut you have to make and avoid using small pieces of mat to fill in gaps as these will not hold up well over time (less than 2' square is too small).
7. Position all the mats that do not require cutting. Using vice grips as handles, maneuver the mats into position. Now, determine how you should cut the remaining mat(s).
8. Measure the space remaining and mark the mats with chalk. Fit stall mats snuggly together, leaving about 1/8" to 1/4" space between mats.
9. Use the straight edge and the utility knife to cut the mats (you will need to make multiple slices to cut all the way through the mat).