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Joined: Tue Jun 25th, 2013
Location: Ashfield, Massachusetts USA
Posts: 96
Status:  Offline
Posted: Tue Dec 29th, 2015 12:59 am
I'm wondering if anyone has any fresh ideas for stall bedding. My two horses mostly live outdoors but have walk-in stalls that they can come into at will for eating and getting out of the weather. The stalls have rubber mats and I put down bedding on top of the mats. I first used straw but they simply ate it. Then I used shavings for years but am dissatisfied with how slowly they compost and how much dust they generate. Now I'm experimenting with wood pellets but am not loving these either. The horses will only sleep on them once they're completely broken down (understandable since in pellet form they look very uncomfortable) yet once broken down, the pellets generate even more dust than the shavings.

My hope is to find a bedding material that fulfills the following goals:
-comfy for horses
-not dusty
-readily compostable
-affordable and available in New England

any suggestions? Thanks in advance for any ideas -- and happy new year!

Joined: Fri Jan 15th, 2010
Location: Bath, Somerset, United Kingdom
Posts: 223
Status:  Offline
Posted: Tue Dec 29th, 2015 12:23 pm
Hi Juliet,
I wonder if you damp the wood pellets so that they soften and break down before use? I don't use them myself, but I know a number of people who do use them, and they all sprinkle them with water when they are freshly put down so that they soften and fluff up?

Jane W

Status:  Offline
Posted: Wed Dec 30th, 2015 05:53 pm
I would take out the mats. I found that using pellets on clay works better. It doesn't get as dusty because it draws moisture from the ground. Also, I don't strip and re-bed. I just add about a 5 lb coffee can of the pellets to the stall every day.

Joined: Thu Apr 5th, 2007
Location: Near Philly, Pennsylvania USA
Posts: 116
Status:  Offline
Posted: Thu Dec 31st, 2015 07:22 pm
Can you get pine needles? I used to rake them off the ground under the pine trees and use them for bedding. No dust, the horses don't eat it, and it's nice and resilient for them to lie down on.

Joined: Tue Jun 25th, 2013
Location: Ashfield, Massachusetts USA
Posts: 96
Status:  Offline
Posted: Thu Dec 31st, 2015 09:04 pm
Hi Dorothy, Jane and Val,

thanks for your replies.

Dorothy, I DO sprinkle water on the pellets and they're nice and fluffy but once the water evaporates, they're oh-so-dusty...I might try keeping them dampish to keep the dust down.

Val, the pine needles suggestion is interesting...they're not absorbent, but maybe on top of pellets it would help with dust. I wonder how they compost.

Jane, as for pulling up the stall mats, what you say does make sense but...eek! I just redid the stalls and put new mats down! I don't know if I have the ego-strength to face getting rid of them!


Joined: Tue May 8th, 2007
Location: Ohio USA
Posts: 34
Status:  Offline
Posted: Thu Dec 31st, 2015 10:03 pm
I don't know if it's available where you are but a friend of mine started using peat moss for bedding and LOVED it!
Super Moderator

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Posts: 3309
Status:  Offline
Posted: Fri Jan 1st, 2016 11:32 am
Yes, peat moss is the best of all beddings. However, it will work for most people only if there is some kind of local supplier that sells it for "a lot less". But maybe somebody is clearing out a cranberry bog at your end of the universe, and that could be a possibility out East. I also like Val's suggestion about pine needles; if you've got them in supply, use 'em. They're comfy though not very absorbent. Just be sure there's no walnut, maple, or oak mixed in with the rakings.

I wouldn't use pellets at all, due to the dust. There are two problems with those: one, the dust is going to cause you respiratory grief. No horse should be bedded, kept, or ridden where there is constant dust -- you're begging for heaves there. And second, wet pellets are even more prone to harboring the fungi that cause white line disease than shavings are.

If it were me, I'd bed on shavings as being the best all-around solution in terms of cost, reliable supply (free of walnut, which can kill your horse on contact), low dust, and composts well. If you've got a mushroom grower in your neighborhood, you might even be able to sell your dirty shavings to him for money.

There is one other solution also, and that's to keep the horse outside all the time. I know you said yours can go in and out and that's great, so this is more for others who are reading here. Ollie lives on plain dirt with nothing else on top of it. In his pen, some parts are sort of deeper and softer or looser, and that's where he lies down to sleep and/or rolls. One does sometimes get camel callouses on the outer aspects of the ankles, and if that comes up, you can bring the horse in to a bedded stall for a few days. Outside in our climate in California, he endures much more in the way of heat (110 for days on end sometimes, when he stands under his roof or else under an overhanging tree) than in the way of cold (it's been relatively cold here the last two weeks, averaging 32 degrees F as nighttime lows). I know your climate tilts the other way, and if it's mud mud mud mud mud then you'll have to bring 'em in because they can't get comfortable if their whole fur is sopping wet. But surely even where it snows and/or rains a lot, a balance can be struck. -- Dr. Deb


Joined: Fri May 18th, 2007
Location: Canberra, Australia
Posts: 43
Status:  Offline
Posted: Tue Jan 5th, 2016 03:32 am
Hapy New to you Dr Deb and all.

I feel so fortunate after reading this post that I dont have to worry about bedding /stables etc as my horses are on grass 24/7 and happy to sleep on the grass with trees to shelter them from the sun/wind. I also have a paddock that is varied interain from flat to rocky hill. Housing development is coming our way and I may loose it in the next few years so any info on this type of topic is good to know for future reference.


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