View Full Version : Best way to bed a stall with dirt floors

Feb. 22, 2011, 08:19 PM
I recently moved my horses to a new barn with dirt floors. I have ALWAYS had mats,so I'm having a hard time transitioning. I can put shavings in and within 2 days they are all mixed in to the dirt. Does anyone have any tips on dirt floors? I'm paying for shavings with my board, but I'm not completely opposed to buying different bedding (although cost is in issue as I've got 3 horses). Would pelleted bedding or straw work better? I feel stupid even posting this but I'm really struggling with keeping the stalls clean, dry, and well.. bedded in general.

Feb. 22, 2011, 08:45 PM
There's no perfect solution for dirt floors. The best I can figure is that you just bed thinly and let the dust/dirt stay in there. If you sweep it clean, it'll be back in a week. Seems to be the nature of the stuff! I do make it a point to scrape the dustiest stuff where the horses pee and then I can get some of it up the next day. That way it doesn't seem to build up.

Feb. 22, 2011, 09:10 PM
The barn where I board has dirt floors, well clay really. The BO uses mats where the horses pee the most, and she beds with sawdust. She just picks up poop, and the sodden stuff, she leaves the rest in there. It all sort of mixes together and it works pretty well. You're never going to get truly clean tho.


Feb. 22, 2011, 09:40 PM
IME, you need more shavings with dirt, so you have a prayer the shavings will absorb most of the urine.

Yes, the bottom layer of shavings gets ground into the dirt, but that happens less when you have more shavings.

Feb. 22, 2011, 09:47 PM
Buy your own mats, you'll save the difference in bedding. Wait till someone goes digging, they just don't stop, one horse I had last year dug a hole about four feet deep.

Feb. 22, 2011, 10:07 PM
FP- You must know my mare!!!:lol:


Feb. 22, 2011, 10:18 PM
My stalls are dirt/clay. I use a bag of pellets, spread out over the pee spots, and top with straw. Shavings work well, too. Of course, these stalls are a good 30 years old (even if they went 10+ years without horses), so they're packed down very well, so that helps. Initially, they were on the dusty side, but with use (and pee :D) the dust is no worse than a matted stall. As an experiment, I tried using straight shavings a while ago. Three full bags put into one stall (13x15) lasted about 3 weeks.

Feb. 23, 2011, 03:40 PM
Stalls I have dealt with for of my life have been dirt. On the track, at breeding farms, at sales facilities, at home, at shows, etc. I actually like them. We have concrete right now and need to get mats for them :-(

I just bed like I always have. Deep. I have used shavings, sawdust and straw (not together). You pick the wet and manure out. Then you can push back the clean bedding and rack the wet dirt spots as needed. With time you will get a depression and should fill it in but alot of people don't.

I think dirt is easier on their feet and legs and more comfortable to lay one.

And you don't have the issue of having to pull the mats up to clean under them with they get nasty (and they always do).

Feb. 23, 2011, 03:50 PM
We always have dirt floors. I just bed deeply, clean out the manure and wet spots. You can fill any holes with small size gravel which will pack down. You can have a depression in the center over time ( as was mentioned above) but if you fill as needed with clay or gravel ( or both) the stalls will stay nice and they drain well too.

Feb. 23, 2011, 04:51 PM
Love my dirt stalls. I don't have a 'mixing' issue though, mine is very compact and drains very well. I do have a mat over the pee spot, to prevent a center depression, but I find that so long as I'm bedding deeply, I have very little waste. If I skimp on the savings, then I end up with a much bigger mess. I think my horse prefers the dirt to any other base - I guess there's no way to truly tell, but I noticed he does not get any sores.

Feb. 23, 2011, 05:23 PM
i have dirt floors and i use spring barley straw as it better than wheat its soft you dress the floor 1ft deep and bank the sides 2ft x1ft same as you would any other stable not had any problems in over 40yrs

Feb. 23, 2011, 08:40 PM
We have dirt/clay floors. I have put mats across the back of most of them (2 mats in a 12x12 so just the back third of the stall covered). Most of our stalled horses are mares so that takes care of where they poop and pee (except for the delightful few that poop and pee everywhere). Geldings are a pain in dirt-floored stalls (IMO) because their pee goes into the middle of the stall.

Now we bed 100% with stall bedding pellets, but back when we used shavings, I still liked to have pellets in the PPP (preferred peeing place).

Feb. 24, 2011, 12:54 AM
Bed deeply as already stated and if you have a horse that paws at the feed bucket or door, then put a mat down in that spot.

If your bedding is too thin, then they will mix it into the dirt as they move about.

Feb. 24, 2011, 01:29 AM
Another person who has almost always had dirt floor stalls. In fact, my horse's current stall sort of came with mats in the sense that the owner of the previous occupant kept making hints about the fact that those were her mats and when was I going to pay her. I kept telling her she could come and get them any time she wanted. Eventually I hauled them out of there and bestowed them them on someone else because they really didn't fit properly, edges kept popping up, and my horse kept tripping on them.

The only times I've had an issue with dirt coming through the bedding was a few times at shows when the horse kept digging holes. Solution - switched disciplines to one the horse liked better and to a barn that bedded more deeply. Plus for a brief period when they strip the stalls and re-level them by adding dirt but that doesn't happen too often.

But, yeah, I always bedded deeply and that's also the case for the full-care situation my horse is in now.

Feb. 24, 2011, 04:28 AM
ps 0ver time my dirt floors are hard so dont mix with the bedding, as i muck and sweep the floor like a normal stable i can also wash my floors with jayes disfectant and again doesnt mix just scrub and it and let it dry

pull your beds up during the day so the floor can dry out as you would a normal stable this prevents muddy messes
put your water bowl into a tyre big enough to cover the bottom and this prevents it getting kicked over agian avioding mess around the drinking vessel

use a haynet net or haylage net - rahter than on the floor,

make sure your beds are deep - shavings dont often work in a dirt stall as they soak up to much water if it rians as the floor is the same inside as outside
but fine in dry weather

use barley or spring barley straw as it soaks up better than wheat straw and is a lot softer to the horse
tkae your feeding bowls out once they have been fed

muck out on a daily baisis- if horse is in then twice a day to prevent mess as you would in a normal stable

my stables dont have mats as i dont need them to prevent water comming in from out side
then build a concrete step like i have done this prevent water entering the stable and making a mucky muddy mess when the horses go in or out and they can step over it you leave the wheel barrow on the outside of the stable when mucking out and then sweep around the out side of the door

the step is simple to do, you need 2 bits of thin ply board then a bag of concrete mix it then shove it between the 2 bits of ply that shoould be one inside the door frame one out side the door frame cut to size to allow the door to close over the top once filled smooth off concrete to about 3inches below to make sure the door shuts wait for it to dry re move the ply boards

this also helps to re vent water comming in if your field is directly outside and is slightly down hill also doesnt need planning permission as you only building a step so that no excess water enters the stable
and then your stables in time will be dry and hard on the floors as mine are

Feb. 24, 2011, 11:02 PM
buy your own mats!

Feb. 25, 2011, 12:00 AM
And you don't have the issue of having to pull the mats up to clean under them with they get nasty (and they always do).

My BO STILL has to pick up the mats to clean the "under crud" that the horses push under there!!!!!


Feb. 25, 2011, 01:50 AM
Pelleted bedding topped with fine shavings works very well on my dirt floors. And only take the really wet clumped up spots out once a week, believe it or not, it is not gross and stinky and it helps keep the stalls from getting those hollowed out spots from scraping up dirt when cleaning the wet spots.

I actually only put the pellets where they pee.

Feb. 27, 2011, 09:11 AM
Wow, thanks for all the replies, guys! I haven't had time to check back here and am definitely impressed!

I would LOVE to buy my own mats, but that's not an option at the moment.. they are big stalls and I have just moved to this new boarding barn so still not sure if it will be a long term thing or not (though hopefully, I really like it so far!) That may be an option down the road but it's just too soon to spend that much money even if I had it.

I'm currently using shavings, and I don't think I'm using nearly enough. I pay a set fee for "unlimited" but I kind of got the impression that they buy a load once a month or so and that's it.. so I don't want to run out, and I don't want to use them all up so there isn't any left for other boarders. I will probably supplement with pellets as I do have a mare that pees exclusively in her stall (like clockwork, everytime she sees me in the AM and PM lol weirdo). So maybe pellets in the pee/wet spots, and then the rest mixed with the barns shavings.

I would also like to try straw at some point but it seems a little scary to me haha. Plus I don't have room to store more than 2-4 bales at a time. No idea how much I'd go through at a time but that doesn't seem like very much.

Right now there is no turnout while the ground is so wet so I'm sure once it dries up a bit and my girls arent standing in the stalls all day long then that will help too.

Thanks again!

Feb. 27, 2011, 12:45 PM
strip out the stall, level the dirt (otherwise the mats will stick up, get shavings under them, and be messy). Buy your own mats, mat the entire stall, then bed with shavings. that will be the easiest and cheapest fix.

We did that with my horse's stall, it's wonderful now, but he had hock sores constantly before we got the mats. Now his stall is super comfy cozy.

Feb. 28, 2011, 08:55 PM
Definitely cannot afford to spend a few hundred dollars per stall to mat them when I just moved to this barn and am not sure if it's going to be a permanent situation..