As an avid equestrian for 25 years, and selling horse bedding for over 9 of them, I know about the issues with which each horse person or equine facility deals. When it comes to the horse bedding your horse sleeps or stands on every day you want to be sure you are doing your best for him or her.
Proper horse bedding for horses is extremely important, today and always. You want to be sure your horse is getting the proper rest needed, because his health and performance depend on it. There are times an animal has a specific issue, such as allergies or lameness. Being aware of the issues is beneficial in deciding what type of horse bedding may possibly solve them.
For many years the only material used for horse bedding was dirt or straw. When man decided to domesticate horses and they became an investment, the care of these beautiful animals became more of a concern. Straw was easily obtainable and could be made from wheat, oats or barley. The up-side of straw is it drains well. The down side of straw is that it’s not particularly absorbent. It can be dusty, horses will eat it, and you need to bed deep so the horse doesn’t get stained. In addition, when you use straw for horse bedding, mucking out can be quite time consuming.
With straw as horse bedding, you also need to muck frequently, and you end up removing more horse bedding then necessary. If you don’t have a stall with proper drainage, straw is not the way to go. Straw is mostly used today on breeding farms which use it for the birthing of newborn foals. However, within weeks, most are switched over to wood shavings because it’s easier to clean a stall with wood shavings used for horse bedding.
News Flash - There's a new kind of bedding coming to town. A mix of shavings and chopped straw or just chopped straw. Two new suppliers, one in Canada and one in the USA.
Horse bedding with wood shavings saves time and is the most economical. It’s an excellent way to have your stalls look clean, and shavings are very absorbent. Wood shavings also give you the option on how little or how deep you wish to have your horse bedding for your equine companion. (Adding rubber stall mats helps alleviate the necessity of deeper shavings. And, it also saves money and adds comfort to your animal’s horse bedding at the same time.)
Using wood shavings for horse bedding is also the most convenient way to bed a stall. The purpose of bedding a stall is to help cushion your horses’ legs from standing on hard ground, and for their health and safety. It creates a layer of insulation between the horse and cold floor. Bedding coupled with stall mats also creates a cleaner and more comfortable environment for your horse, and helps their hocks and other joints.
Other horse bedding materials being used today are chopped straw, wood pellets, hemp, paper, cardboard, peat moss, corn husks and peanut shells. Although peat moss seems to be a good way to go, it can make a stall look dirty, and is not easily obtainable.
Over the years, I have learned, horse people have their own preferences when it comes to horse bedding. Some use straw because it’s more eco-friendly, but it’s labor intensive and smells when it gets hot in the summer. Some use wood pellets because it’s less dusty by adding water, and it clumps, making the stall easier to clean up. But again, this can also cause aesthetic issues. Most use wood shavings because it’s easily found, easily cleaned and will keep both horse and stall looking clean.
As you can see there is quite a variety of products you can use for horse bedding but it truly is a matter of preference. If you’ve ever cleaned a stall, you know it’s the hardest part of the day (besides cleaning/picking out paddocks) and the most time consuming in an equine owners life. What you choose for your horse has to be good for them, for you and your pocket.
Kathy J. Motashami