Rubber mats are not only a necessity in indoor stalls, they can also be extremely useful in outdoor stalls, shelters, wash racks, and any area where there is heavy foot traffic. We were pretty lucky with our farm, all but one stall had really nice matting already. There were however no mats in the aisle way and one stall still needed to be done. I scored a wicked deal through my moms co worker who had purchased about 16 mats off a farmer and wanted to use them in his garage. The only problem was when he got them home, the smell of cow manure was so strong he had to take them out of his garage! I got a great deal off him and a few weeks in the barn aired them right out.
|A perfect install job was done before I moved in.|
*The benefits of stall mats are numerous; *
- Adds cushion and leg relief for long standing and laying down. Has been known to reduce stocking up and help with arthritis.
- Prevents slipping, especially in wash stalls and in aisle ways.
- Aids in the absorption for bedding, preventing urine and water from seeping into the floor.
- Prevents holes and uneveness on dirt and wood floors.
- Reduces the amount of bedding used making stall cleaning time reduced and cost savings.
- Prevents sand colic from dirt or sand bedding.
- Prevents cold and dampness from coming up through the floors.
- Money savings in long term horse care.
Typical stall mats are made of recycled rubber and are about 3/4' thick. For a more cost effective mat you can turn to cattle matts, which are typically the mats that fit together like a puzzle piece, slightly lower quality. When laying mats, you can cover the entire stall floor, or, if you are looking to save money, you can cover 3/4 of the stall starting at the back, and leaving the front area dirt or concrete as the horses are less prone to stand and sleep there. Mats with texture are recommended over smooth mats as they tend to be less slippery when wet.
|I sweep my shavings back during the day to let the mats dry.|
When installing mats you want to make sure to install them properly so they lay flat and there are no gaps between mats. You can also secure them to the ground by bolting them down if you are laying over concrete. Installing a mat properly can save you much heartache and annoyance in the future, from fixing the shifting and cleaning under them. They will also wear quicker and be less effective if they are not level. If you do purchase mats, take the time to have them leveled and installed properly. You can also invest in seams for your mats which will make them waterproof and even more secure . Personally, I think taking the time to measure and level them should be sufficient for the average barn owner.
|Ozzy snuck into this one :)|
When looking at mats be sure to look at the warranty if there is one offered. Some vary from 6 months to 10 years, however my advice if you are on a budget (which most of us horse ladies are), is to look online on places like Kijiji and Craigslist, or estate auctions where you can usually buy bulk for a fraction of the cost. You should weigh the cost vs the long term durability of each mat. You can expect to spend anywhere from $250-$500 to mat a 12 x 12 stall, less if you just mat the back. I know it took me 5 mats to do my aisle way, with a single mat in the center for the entire length. This has also saved my concrete floor from wear and tear because of shoes.
|The stall that wasn't matted - after installing new puzzle mats|
Spending money on a quality floor in your barn will never be a regret. Mats can last up to 30 years if treated right and are worth the investment. You can even purchase one mat a month if you are on the skint side, and before you know it you will have 12 mats in a year, enough to do 3 or 4 stalls. The amount of money you will save on bedding alone makes your money back in the first year or two.
A final tip for those who need to move mats - use vice grips on either end and just pull. As a 5'2 petite female, I was able to install all 16 of my new mats last year by myself with ease. Thank my dad for that tip!
Keep Calm and Farm on!