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Solution for the Mat Destroyer?

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  • Solution for the Mat Destroyer?

    Looking for ideas, besides just pouring concrete (perhaps with his feet in it...). Two years ago we put in hoof-grid for our dry paddocks that are attached to the barn -- those are great. While doing that, we redid our overhang area that connects the stalls and dry paddocks. We built kind of a box in the ground with pressure treated wood, filled that with crushed rock, packed and leveled it, and laid mats within the "box". The wood held the mats in and also served as a buttress for the grids in the paddock (if you leave an edge of the grids exposed, you run the risk of a horse grabbing it and pulling them up -- not good).

    It was wonderful and worked great until this summer when we got sun. Usually it isn't a problem, but this year, we had 3 months of sun and dry. Which makes rubber mats expand and curl, leaving inviting edges for a certain warmblood pest to pull up. And he does. Pulls them up and drags the mats into his stall, into the paddock, tears pieces out, turns the mats over and poops in the gravel hole he exposed, then digs it all in...you get the picture. Destruction.

    So we have to redo the whole thing since he has torn up so many of the mats that nothing fits together right. Plus they no longer stay flat and that makes it all the easier and inviting for him to yank them up again.

    We did try the stall klips too and those helped a bit (pins that drive in and hold the mats down), but not completely. We put no chew and soap and pepper sauce on the edges of the mats, and that helps a day or so, but eventually he goes at it again.

    So looking for suggestions. I looked at interlocking mats but read that those also have issues with expansion in the sun. Are there mats that don't expand and curl in sun? Maybe thicker ones would help (these are the regular 3/4" stall mats that you get at the feed store). I feed there, so don't want to do the grids and gravel like I have in the paddock.

    Or does anyone want to hire my horse as an excavator?

    And, I know it will come up -- he probably is bored. He's IR so can't be on pasture much, is limited on feed, and I do give him toys and other things to keep him busy. Just put in an arena, so he's getting back to work too. Tried him with my mini mule for entertainment, but he's too mean to her.

    Always something...

  • #2
    Well, if you're made of money, you could always try the stall mattress things. They're all one piece.

    Alternatively, perhaps stall skins OVER the mats? Aren't those one piece deals as well?

    Or construct a wood grid under the seams of your mats and bolt or glue the edges down?

    Install a wooden floor instead?


    • #3
      Grazing muzzle?
      *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
      Steppin' Out 1988-2004
      Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
      Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


      • #4
        OK, when we had the pigs in the trailer they were doing the same things, using the mats as playtoys/chewtoys, then they started on the floor and dug their way through the OSB sheathing over the old soft oak, after six months the trailer was trash and the mats were pretty raggedy. We re did the floor and moved the pigs to a new oak floored area. It's tough enough there is nothing for them to start digging on, yet.

        That's the only advice I can give is that you give up your mats entirely or go to something major such as a six inch metal lip at the mat joints, like a sandwich, well fastened down. When you have a big animal like that with hooves and teeth and the will to use them though, concrete or steel are the options. Wood, rubber, packed rock or soil just aren't going to hold up.

        All those "cruel" housing options for pigs are built that way so the farmer can make some profit and not be spending it on new housing every year.
        Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
        Incredible Invisible


        • Original Poster

          Grazing muzzle was a failure when I tried before. It pissed him off and he'd run and tear his (expensive!) shoes off every time we tried it. He won, no muzzle. I just limit his grass turnout time rather than do the muzzle.

          I don't think he's doing it with just his mouth. I think he paws them up too. Muzzled, he'd do more digging.

          I wouldn't mind spending money on a solution if I knew it would work. I'd hate to put a bunch of $$ into some different matting system, then have him destroy that!

          I think for now we will replace the wrecked mats and see if it lasts at least the winter. Had I known we would be redoing the overhang, I'd have done it during the dry spell, darn horse!


          • Original Poster

            Just bumping this up to say, oops, he did it again. We replaced the destroyed mats over the weekend. Repacked all the gravel underneath, got the mats placed just so (no curvy edges, no holes, pretty tight in the "box" formed by barn, fence, and boards).

            Go down to feed lunch and see him swinging something in his mouth. Yelled his name, he dropped it, and had the good sense to even look guilty. Three mats moved, two (including one new) with corners torn off, gravel all over. What he was swinging was one corner he'd torn off to play with.

            So much for thinking we would make it through winter.

            I know you can get the roll matting but I think it is too thin for this -- do they have large rolls in 1/2 or 3/4" thick matting? If I could get rid of the edges (so put 10' wide down and cover those outside edges somehow, then have no seams in the middle), that might work.

            We have the stall klips (big stakes that you can drive in between to hold down mats), but he just pulls those out too. Maybe I could have some new ones made that are longer, like 3'. I'm not kidding...

            I think this is his "vice" - -instead of cribbing or weaving, he's a mat destroyer.


            • #7
              Check www.farmtek.com



              • #8
                Have you considered getting him his own "mat" to play with? Maybe some jolly balls or other toys? A large rubber feed pan and a jolly ball kept my donkey busy. Oh yeah, my husband finally allowed him to keep the 6 foot section of plastic corrugated drain pipe that he put all the teeth marks in.
                "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."


                • #9
                  I wouldn't put stall skins over the mats. It will hold moisture between the two and create a stinky mess. YUCK. You could try something like this on the mats:


                  It's a 3' spiral tent anchor. The rings fold flat. My only other recommendation would be to replace the mats with 3/4" conveyor belting. You can get that in insanely long lengths. A friend of mine has it in her barn aisles. Her mats are 8' wide by 48' long and have to weigh well over 800 pounds. They took a tractor to put into place. I doubt he could move something that heavy.


                  • #10
                    Instead of mats for his stall, you might try grids. There are several brands. I like the plastic ones. The grids are laid in the stall and then filled with sand or dirt. The liquids drain but the grids stabilize the sand preventing digging. I think it would be hard for him to get an edge up if the whole stall floor was covered.

                    I first saw grids being used at a public horse camp high tie line. It's used very intensively. Lots of horses pawing and digging. The grids were great, made clean-up easy and kept the area level.

                    here's a link to see them (just an example of grids, lots of suppliers out there) http://bucksnortmorgans.tripod.com/S...ros/index.html
                    Equus makus brokus but happy


                    • #11
                      I don't have any good ideas but have to say what a BAD BOY! O I'd be so furious.
                      I'd say maybe the grids too-sink them deep under gravel and stone dust? Then give him a piece of mat to call his own? Or a muzzle and hobbles and kick chains and then tie his head short?!! (KIDDING)
                      What a very bad boy.
                      Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.


                      • #12
                        He's out there 24/7 working on a solution to overcome any horse-proofing you may install - I suspect you need to change your management of him

                        - clicker train him to accept the grazing muzzle - try several to find the best fit, consider a custom if necessary - then get him out in a herd situation (do you have just him & the mini donkey, or other horses as well?)

                        - work, whether that means sending him out for training or having a trainer come in to work with you & him: eg, horse agility, liberty work (watch a Jonathan Field performance), something that engages his mind

                        Good Luck


                        • #13
                          Maybe he needs other things to chew on (as PRS suggested). How about a wheelbarrow tire or cut one of the mats he's warped into strips and leave it around for him to mess with.

                          I think he's just found something to amuse himself with -- he's the equine equivalent of a kid who takes apart all of their toys just to see how they're put together.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by RiverBendPol View Post
                            I'd say maybe the grids too-sink them deep under gravel and stone dust? Then give him a piece of mat to call his own? .

                            Good idea to redirect the horse... I post to clarify about grids. The idea of the grid is to keep the hoof from getting a bite of the floor. The hoof just slides across the top of the grid. The grid is prevented from sinking by the closed end of the lower portion of the structure. So burying the grid below the surface defeats the purpose of the grid.
                            Equus makus brokus but happy


                            • Original Poster

                              Many good points, and I have not mastered the multi quote, so I'll just have to wing it here -

                              Just to clarify, the mats he is messing with our on the overhang outside of his stall, not in his stall. He has access to a stall with mats, covered with bedding, and has not yet even tried to pull those up. Then the stall opens to a 10'x24' overhang that is matted - those are the ones he destroys. The overhang then is open to his dry paddock -- which is 30x30 when everyone else is in, or I can open it up to let him have the whole 30x80 or so area.

                              He only gets a small amount of pasture turnout as he is IR and can't have much grass, and this time of year, we PNWers can't turn out on the grass much anyway unless we want mud and muck all year.

                              On grids, we actually have those in the paddocks, just outside of the overhang. Love them. They are covered with a couple of inches of pea gravel and work great for the mud free paddocks. I am reluctant to put them on the overhang because I feed on the overhang. And if I understand correctly, if I put grids down without a covering, the exposure to the sun will cause them to expand and buckle. That's why they work in a stall (not exposed) or out with a gravel covering.

                              Since he likes to pull up the mats and then dig in the gravel beneath, I'm thinking one way to deal with it might be to put the grids down, then mats on top. Then he might still pull the mats up, but once he figures out he can't dig, it might be okay. Or I suggested adding some quickcrete to the gravel to make it really firm up, then put the mats down for the same reason (stopping the digging). SO isn't sold on that idea, nor am I (I have no idea if it would work).

                              He does have a lot of toys and we rotate them to keep him busy. He's in some work now that I have an arena at home, but the recent monsoons have kept us from riding (outdoor arena)...now that we are drying out again, I hope to get him going. I will not send him anywhere for training because his IR is well managed here and I do NOT trust any boarding barn in this area to follow the instructions, plus I would not want to be paying for more destruction in the other barns!

                              Right now, we have the mats put back together with a few missing corners, and sprayed the edges with raplast -- he's left them alone. For now. Hopefully my arena dries out enough today to get him out and direct some of that naughty energy into something else!


                              • #16
                                How about a goat or sheep or mini as a pasture buddy. My goats hang out w/ one of my old girls who is on limited dry lot. The mini goes where she pleases but all 4 of them have been used as babysitters at one point or another.
                                Come to the dark side, we have cookies