Of Horse

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How to Choose the Right Bedding.  Part One:  The Tried and The (More or Less) True
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How to Choose the Right Bedding. Part One: The Tried and The (More or Less) True

When it comes to choosing bedding for your horse there are many more choices today than straw or shavings! Different things come into play when making this decision for your barn, such as cost, absorbency, health considerations, environmental impact and many other factors. Let's look at the strengths and weaknesses of the most commonly used beddings today.

Straw (wheat is best)


- Bright and cheery (something that we all appreciate in the winter!) - One of the less expensive beddings to purchase - Excellent drainage qualities - Sifting through their straw bedding gives horses something to do - Can be warm, particularly if a deep bedding system is used - Composts easily - Horses seem to prefer standing on it, if given a choice of beddings


- Difficult to separate manure and wet straw from dry - Can harbour moulds and be dusty - Some horses eat it, causing digestive problems - Prices can fluctuate depending on how good the crops grew that year

Wood Shavings


- Very Bright and Cheery - Can be delivered in loose bulk form or in bags - Very absorbent so air quality is improved - Low dust -Horses typically will not eat it


- Does not break down as fast as straw - Mid range in cost - Poor quality shavings bought in bulk can harbour garbage, nails, and large splinters - Make sure that shavings are free of Black Walnut as this is very toxic to horses



- Extremely absorbent - Available in strips or flakes (flakes are much easier to work with) - Breaks down quickly on the manure pile - Dust free - Lower cost - Better for horses with allergies, though some horses may still be sensitive to the ink -It is biodegradable and makes use of recycled material


- Because it's so absorbent it is becomes very heavy when wet - Your horse may be stained with yesterday's news - When the bedding dries out on the manure heap it can blow around the stable yard - If you suffer a fire, your neighbours may not appreciate the large balls of flaming paper that will come their way (I discovered this thought on someone else's blog, so forgive me if it's yours, but I can't remember what blog it was!)

Peat Moss


- Very absorbent once it's gotten a bit wet - Provides excellent cushioning


- Expensive - Extremely heavy - Dark and gloomy - The air will be dusty and so will your horse

Rubber Mats


- Provides excellent cushioning - Helps prevent slipping - No dust - If mats are used in conjunction with another bedding, then the amount of that bedding required is greatly decreased.


- Pee gets under the mats....smelly and gross - Would you want to pee on a mat and then lay in it? Use an additional bedding! - Annoying to clean stalls with mats underneath bedding because the pitch fork slams to a stop in the little gaps between mats and then jams into your sternum - I guess I don't like mats.

If you found this post helpful, please like it, share it and if I may be so bold as to ask you to vote for it. 

Part 2:  Rockstar Beddings...What's New in the World of Equine Bedding






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  1. HorseDiva
    I found these tips very helpful as well, and thank you for this post! I voted! i have a new post called Gangnam Style for Charity. Come read it and vote if you liked it!
  2. Tammy Marie Rose
    Tammy Marie Rose
    Great piece! Voted up :)

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