Horse Stable Bedding

The Different Types of Bedding and How to Choose

Keeping your horse comfortable and happy should be top of any horse owner’s agenda, and if your horse spends a lot of time in their stable, you’ll want their beds to be as warm and inviting as possible. 

The right bedding will keep a horse warm, dry and clean, while also helping them to relax in their stable overnight. But selecting the right bedding can be a challenge as there’s a range of different options on the market, each suited to different needs and horses. 

Unsure of the options and what you should be going for? Have a look at our basic guide. 

Wood Shavings

Shavings are a very popular choice of horse bedding, as they are readily available, easy to store and compact. They do, however, vary in quality and horses with allergies may struggle with shavings that have a high dust content. Ensure you buy shavings that have been specifically produced for use as horse bedding. Dust extracted shavings are best and many are treated with natural oils. 

Pros:

  • Horses won’t eat them 
  • Readily available
  • Comfortable and easy to keep clean
  • Easy to store

Cons: 

  • Harder to dispose of
  • Needs regular full muck outs
  • High dust levels in cheaper options
  •  

Hemp

Hemp is another popular bedding, made from chopped stems of hemp. Hemp bedding is a great alternative to shavings, and its low dust content means it’s great for horses with respiratory issues. Hemp is easy to muck out and even easier to dispose of – gradually breaking down to make compost. 

Pros: 

  • Good for horses with respiratory problems
  • 100% natural and easy to dispose of
  • Very absorbent and easy to clean

Cons: 

  • Relatively expensive as it is a seasonal crop
  • Requires regular maintenance to prevent mould

Straw

One of the cheapest bedding materials on the market is straw. This is easy to source, can be bought in bulk and is used to make a traditional, comfortable bed for your horse. A popular choice on livery yards and for those who don’t have time to do a full muck out every day, straw can be made into a deep litter bed which only needs skipping out each day. Straw is also the best bedding for foaling, as shavings and other bedding materials can stick to the foal and get inside the mare. 

One of the main downsides of a straw bed is that horses start to eat it. If you think your horse is eating their bed, ensure they have access to enough forage while they are in their stable. 

Pros: 

  • The cheapest bedding
  • Produces a warm, thick bed
  • Good for foaling
  • Mucking out easy and efficient

Cons: 

  • Expensive to dispose of
  • Can be dusty
  • Many horses eat their straw beds

Wood Pellets

Wood pellets are made from heat-treated sawdust with water added to them. These are very absorbent and are a popular eco friendly and dust free choice. However, maintaining a stable bedded with wood pellets can be more work than using straw or shavings. 

Pros: 

  • Eco friendly
  • Easy to clean and less wasteful than other beddings
  • Very high absorbency and dust free

Cons: 

  • Can be slippery
  • Need to add water to the bedding 

Rubber Matting

Rubber matting is another popular choice, although this is normally used as a bedding base and not on its own. Rubber mats are designed to be a comfortable surface for horses to lie on, but even so, most owners will add a small amount of bedding on top. 

Rubber matting completely covers the floor, keeping horses warm and comfortable, away from the concrete. It’s also dust free and, after the initial cost, much cheaper than using bale after bale of shavings or straw. Rubber floors that you can lift to clean underneath are a great option. 

Pros: 

  • Once installed they are more cost effective than other beddings
  • Requires no additional bedding, or just a very small amount
  • Non slip and comfortable

Cons: 

  • Initially expensive to purchase
  • Many owners still spend money on additional bedding

Choosing the perfect bedding can be tricky, but keep in mind that as long as you buy from a reputable manufacturer, you can’t go far wrong. The biggest issue when it comes to bedding is for horses with respiratory issues, and if you think dust in your current bedding might be affecting your horse, consider trying something different. 

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