Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Horse Beds

Our dogs are (mostly) not allowed on the human furniture, so we have several dog beds strewn around the house. We used to buy big poly-filled, fleece-covered pet cushions from Costco, but they needed to be replaced every six months. The waste and expense troubled me, so I bought a vinyl cover for one of our old futons, and (voila!) turned it into a large, comfortable, water-proof and easy-to-clean dog bed that is still going strong. We now have three of these (two queens and a twin) and I highly recommend a similar solution for anyone with adequate floor space and multiple dogs.
I would love to make something similar for the horses, but I'm not sure how to implement it on a 1200 pound scale. It has rained a lot here over the past couple of weeks, which makes it difficult for Tonka and Raven to spend time lying down. They either have to lie on the dirt under the trees (both are in rain sheets when conditions are like this) or on the crusher dust in the shelter. I would feel better if they had a more comfortable surface in the shelter, but I don't want to put expensive bedding over the easy-to-maintain rock substrate. I have considered rubber matting the whole protected area but I don't know if they would like on bare mats...have any of you ever seen a horse lie on bare mats? A 4-by-6 mat runs at $60 around here, so I don't want to invest the money unless I know it's likely to work. There is also the possibility of digging the crusher dust out of the shelter and replacing it with course sand...does anyone have experience with this?


Grey Horse Matters said...

I don't know if they would like rubber mats. Our horses have the mats, but with shavings over them and outside they just lay in the dirt or grass. I don't think they much care where they lay when they are tired, I think it's probably us that thinks they need something cushier.
Great picture by the way. A foal for a pillow, now that's using your head.

Carole said...

I've read that too much time spent lying on rubber mats without bedding on top can cause hock sores. I imagine that's mostly horses that are in stalls for extended periods without turnout.

In the winter we provide shavings in our shelter for them to bed down in a bit. They like to have a nice snooze in the sun, though, lying in the snow! In the summertime, they have their favourite low spots in the pasture that are sheltered from the wind. My horses don't seem as picky as my dogs about finding a soft spot to lie on.

EvenSong said...

If you think mats are expensive, check out
It's a sort of air mattress filled with rubber crumbles.

If you were to go with mats, bedding on top is more for ease of cleaning--If Raven and Tonka don't use their bedroom (the shelter) as their bathroom as well, bedding wouldn't be needed. And the mats would keep them from damaging the stone dust foundation underlying them, keeping the area even and level.

Another option would be a deep bed of sand OVER the stone dust, which would serve as drainage/foundation (I wouldn't dig it out). You would have to put some kind of barrier across the front of the shed (landscape timbers or a 2 by..) to keep the sand from migrating. But it would be easy to pick out, if needed, and easy on their bodies. Just don't feed them on it.

Good luck.

EvenSong said...

Oh, and if you do bed the mats, I really like the petted bedding--it needs to be dampened to soften it up, and some brands have more dust than others, but it's more bio-degradable (for your compost pile) than shavings, and really economical and easy to use compared to straw.

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smellshorsey said...

Great photo!

I use shavings over sand over clay. They like it there -- and in the pits they've dug in the pastures.

I may resort to mats because every time I strip the stall the floor gets lower and lower.

Unknown said...

Why not you are trying rubber matting.Horse Rubber Matting are a great equipment as they can save a lots of money on bedding costs for the Horses.