Many new horse owners are hesitant about changing the type of bedding the previous owner used; however, there may be a more economical and effective horse bedding option available. The best way to determine if making a change is beneficial is to compare the pros and cons of each option.

Straw Bedding

Pros

Straw is one of the most popular types of horse bedding. Owners usually make a thick pile on the floor of the stall. Owners frequently choose this type of bedding because it is extremely economical and, once used, it serves as a great fertilizer.

Cons

Must be stored indoors and is only slightly effective with moisture absorption. The horse’s feet may get wet, which could lead to the development of thrush. Straw bedding is palatable, so the horse will want to eat it. Straw is difficult to clean and creates a substantial amount of dust, which is detrimental to the horse’s respiratory system.

Wood-Based Bedding

Sawdust and wood shavings are very popular bedding options.

Pros 

Wood-based bedding is a widely available option. This bedding has excellent absorption qualities, can be affordable and is easy to clean.

Cons

Depending on the form of wood chosen (e.g., sawdust, pellets or shavings), this bedding can create a dusty environment. In addition, some horses are sensitive to bedding made from certain kinds of wood. Price varies and is determined by the local economic conditions.

Horse Stall Shavings

Pros

Shavings can be very absorbent and provide the horse with excellent cushioning. Some shavings are fluffy, soft and light whereas others are hard. Pine shavings are ideal for bedding because they make mucking out the stall an easy and quick task. Furthermore, eventually the used horse stall shavings can be converted into fertilizer. Storage is easy. Shavings produce very little airborne dust and horses typically find shavings to be unpalatable. We use this form horse bedding at 101 Polo Club.

Cons

Quality varies based on the grade of the shavings purchased. Price usually fluctuates based on construction activity in the area.

Sawdust Horse Bedding

Pros

Sawdust horse bedding offers better absorption than shavings and is easy to store. Additionally, sawdust provides a comfortable, consistent form of bedding.

Cons

Sawdust horse bedding is dustier than shavings. Certain kinds of wood (e.g., cedars) can cause an allergic reaction or pull moisture out of the horse’s hoof horn. This form of bedding is not recommended for horses with respiratory issues.

Wood Pellets

Pros

Wood pellets are an excellent choice for horse stall bedding because they reduce odor, produce very little dust and are easy to store. In addition, they are very absorbent and keep the urine in one location. Therefore, when cleaning the stall, the wet area is the only part of the stall that needs pellets removed. Less material is removed, so the cost does decrease somewhat with time.

Cons

Wood pellets are expensive, costing substantially more than shavings. Pellet quality can vary significantly from one brand to the next.

Paper Product Bedding

Pros

Horse stall bedding created with recycled paper is highly absorbent, eliminates odors, is unpalatable and has a low dust threshold. The price of this bedding depends on the owner’s location and product availability. This bedding is easy to store. The used material can be repurposed as fertilizer.

Cons

This material is hard to move and might need to be mucked out more often. It is expensive, highly flammable and unless packed deep in the stall provides very little cushioning. If this material is packed deep in the stall, the ink may transfer to the horse. This transfer may be visible on lighter-colored horses.

Peat Moss

Pros

Peat moss bedding consists of partially decomposed moss, which is highly absorbable. This makes it easy to muck out. Since the peat moss’ particles are large, respiratory problems are of no concern. A little peat moss goes a long way. Horses find it unpalatable.

Cons

The horse may become dirty quickly, thus requiring frequent washings. While mucking out the stall, due to the color of peat moss, locating the feces can be challenging. Furthermore, drinking water needs to be changed out more often because peat moss tends to create a film over water in troughs and buckets. Peat moss can be hard to find and is usually expensive.

Sand

Pros

In general, sand is not a widely used material for horse stall bedding; nonetheless, in certain areas it may be an economical horse bedding choice. Stalls with sand bedding are easy to clean.

Cons

Sand is not absorbent and can cause a horse’s coat to feel gritty. In addition, to reduce the amount of sand a horse consumes, hay must be fed out of pans or racks, not thrown on the floor. After some time, the sand hardens (due to packing).

How effective horse stall bedding is also depends on the type of floor beneath it. For example, although concrete stall floors covered with bedding and rubber mats are acceptable, proper drainage can be an issue. A stone dust or dirt floor allows for better drainage. All the outdoor stalls in Arizona, including those at 101 Polo Club, have dirt floors; therefore, drainage is not a problem.

At 101 Polo Club, we take your horse’s health seriously, so if you need to board your horse, give us a call at 602-679-8431 or contact us online by clicking here

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