Fresh Bedding and Happy Horses
I don’t know what it is about mucking and bedding horse-stalls that is just so relaxing and rewarding. :)
There is nothing like the look and smell of a clean horse-stall.
I have 36 horse-stalls now and of course that is quite a chore for one person. I do admit that my time is more valuably spent in the management and training of the horses but still….There is not a day that goes by that I don’t grab a pick and tend to at least one stall. Probably an old habit from my early years with horses.
I think that the whole concept of being neat and tidy and clean about horse-stalls, barns , tack, grooming items etc is a big part of really good horsemanship. Of course the well being, health and safety of riders and horses are also the result of tidy, organized, clean stables. I have never known a person that was disorganized and careless with their tack and horses that was a good rider or horseperson. Call me crazy but as an instructor I drive the point home. Clean tack, clean horses and tidy work spaces are a must.
I have taught many many children through the years and this discipline of being meticulous about your care for horses and tack has been instilled in them. I have seen a direct relationship between the care and attention given to things like the cleanliness of a horse-stall and the riding progress of a student. Strange…but true…
Of course the art of stall mucking has progressed immensely through the years.
I remember when we used straw or shavings over dirt floors. Regardless of the amount of horse-stall-bedding you put in, the dirt would always get soiled and wet. So then we would use lime to reduce the odor that would build up especially in warm weather. But the funniest thing was trying to get rid of the wet spot. Horses usually manage to wet one particular spot. In my quest to rid the horse-stall of the wet dirt I would remove more and more dirt every day. Pretty soon the only thing peeking up from the door of the stall was the horses ears! :}
I remember one funny experience....
A lady came out to look at a horse I had for sale. She looked at him in his stall while she waited for me. When I approached her she was quite upset that I had…not been honest about the horses height of 16-2 hands! I was a bit confused at first until I realized that the horse was standing in the hole I had so diligently dug in trying to keep his stall so clean. From the aisle way the horse truly looked like no more than a 14 hand pony!
Well all that has changed now with technology....
the advent of rubber mats and even heated horse-stall-flooring!Heated floors…yes…well. For most of us it is an matter of time, cost and practicality. I like to remind myself constantly that although I am a progressive thinker, horses are horses and nature has endowed them with the ability to survive in nature …unlike humans who have forgotten their basic skills of survival.
On the other hand we are putting horses in an artificial environment and for this we must make up the difference. Living in wide open spaces is very different from being confined to a stall . Having the ability to live in a herd and protect each other from the elements provides more warmth, security and benefits than living in a stable. Thus we need to make up for this difference in the care of stables, the grooming of the horses and the facilitating of exercise.
My preference for stall management...
is a combination of rubber horse-stall-mats with a bed of shavings. The rubber mats are placed over a floor prepared with a base of sand and gravel. The sand and gravel provide good drainage. I think the worse scenario is having horses on concrete floors even if you do put rubber mats on top of the concrete. It is more difficult for horses to stand up, after rolling or laying down, when they are confined on hard unyielding surfaces, such as concrete.
Straw is also a good type of horse-stall-bedding but some horses tend to eat it. It is harder to pick out the soiled areas and it is bulkier. A practical approach is to find out what kind of bedding is available locally and what is easiest to dispose of. Horses can create huge manure piles in a short amount of time. I find the best way to manage this is to turn it into compost and either sell it or give it away. It is definitely cheaper than having it hauled away which I did for some years.
There are other types of bedding such as .....
peat moss, ambiose and even shredded paper. But availability and cost are the key.
What ever you choose, the underlying purpose is to provide the horse with a clean and dry place to stand and to lay down. A surface that is not jarring is of course preferred. Hard surfaces can produce horses with sore legs , capped hocks or other
For stall cleaning you need your favorite pick, muck bucket or wheel barrow and a beautiful supply of clean, fresh horse-stall-bedding. Can you believe that they even make picks now a days that are ergonomically correct! It helps with back pain etc. Hey, I believe it! I have a favorite pick that I keep for my personal use. It is lightweight and perfectly balanced for my height and size. :)
Cleaning stalls grounds you.
Mucking helps to remind you why you like horses and riding and training, or handling, or whatever it is you do. It keeps you humble. After a really great ride or training session, where you feel on top of the world, it brings you down to earth and reminds you that we are all mother natures creatures…for sure. Well …you don’t see the horse cleaning up after us... do you?
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