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Horse Stall Mats – Different Types, Advantages and Disadvantages
Horse stall mats are becoming more popular, due to the advantages they provide over other stall floor surfaces:
- Submissive. A traditional concrete floor is very hard. Unless you provide a thick layer of bedding, this stiffness can cause joint stress, possibly injury to the legs, and injury to the area where the horse lies down to rest or sleep. The mats provide a softer and more yielding surface that is more comfortable for the horse and less likely to result in stress injuries.
- warmth. The materials used to make horse stall mats are naturally insulating. It is more comfortable and healthy for horses, especially in winter.
- Traction. Concrete and wood floors can be slippery when wet; Mats provide better traction and reduce this risk to horses.
- smooth. Most mats have a smooth surface, which is much easier to clean than concrete or wooden surfaces.
- Sterilization. Stall mats can be easily disinfected with disinfectant, which is difficult with absorbent surfaces such as wood or earth. Especially in the case of an infectious disease of horse contraction, the ability to sterilize the stall floor is important.
- Drain. Unlike concrete, mats allow urine to drain away. Usually this happens in the joints between the mats, although some types of mats allow urine to drain through the mat itself.
- the bed. Many owners find that less bedding is needed with stall mats, in part because the mats perform the function of bedding (insulation, soft and comfortable surface, shock absorption, traction) and in part because the ability to remove urine means less bedding soil. This saves not only on bedding costs but also on time and money associated with stall cleaning.
Carpet flooring can be installed on any hard, non-moving surface such as concrete, asphalt and wood floors. Thus, mats are floor coverings rather than floors alone. Some mats (thicker and stronger) can also be laid over compacted stone, as long as the stones do not exceed a certain size (larger stones can cause blockages or even tears in the mats). Soft surfaces, such as earth or sand, are unsuitable because they can move under the mat, resulting in depressions in the mat. Eventually, this can cause separation between the mats or the mats to tear.
Stall mats vary in type, quality and performance characteristics. As a result, there are many factors to consider when choosing a stall mat for individual needs. The key differences between various stall mats are as follows:
- Material. The most commonly used material is rubber, although various types and qualities of rubber are used (mostly depending on the manufacturer). There are also non-rubber mats made from high-tech materials like EVA. High quality rubber is more expensive, but it is more durable. High-tech materials such as EVA have somewhat different performance characteristics (eg, more shock absorption) and are lighter for a given size.
- shape. Mats usually vary in size from about 30 cm square (one square foot) to about 2 square meters (3 square yards). However, we have seen mats as large as 12 feet by 12 feet (nearly 4 meters by 4 meters), which are constructed to cover the entire stall in a single piece (weighing 600 pounds or nearly 300 kg). Larger mats are heavier (larger ones weigh 100 kg or 200 pounds each) which makes placement more difficult. However, their weight and size is an advantage in that they are less likely to move once they are in place and also less likely to lift edges or corners. Smaller mats are easier to work with. In case of rips or other damage, it is cheaper to replace a smaller mat than a larger one.
- thickness. The thickness is about 1 cm to more than 2 cm. Thicker mats have 4 advantages: are more durable, edges are less likely to curl, mats are less likely to move, thickness is usually an indication of quality. However, as thickness increases, both cost and weight increase.
- weight. Weight depends on the type of material (EVA is lighter than rubber) and the thickness of the mat. Heavy mats are more likely to stay in place, while lighter mats are convenient if you travel with your horse (eg between horse shows and competitions) and like to take a portable mat with you. One of the advantages of a mat made from EVA instead of rubber is that it weighs about a quarter of the weight of rubber, so it’s more suitable if you need to move it frequently.
- Interlocking. Some mats interlock, while others have straight edges and rely on their weight to hold them in place. All else being equal (size, weight, thickness), interlocking mats stay in place better and are much less likely to lift edges. Some mats are designed to lock and unlock easily (for easy transport if you’re moving places with your horse) while others are designed to lock firmly (makes transport more difficult, but provides better performance in stable installations).
- Quality. As with any product, quality varies. A long warranty (5 to 10 years) is an indication of quality. Thick mats are generally of better quality than thin mats. Given 2 rubber mats of the same size, if it’s heavier, it’s probably better quality (the lighter one might not be pure rubber, but rather rubber mixed with inferior and lighter materials). None of these are perfect signs of quality, but they are usually good indicators. It is also worth checking whether the manufacturer has a reputation for producing quality products. Also ask if the rubber has been revulcanized (which is better) or if the rubber has been bonded with urethane glue (inferior).
- Permeable. The mat should not be permeable, meaning that urine should not seep onto the surface of the mat. If the materials or production methods are of poor quality, the mats may be partially permeable, resulting in urine entering the mat and causing odors.
- porous. Some mats are porous, allowing urine to escape. However, the majority are not porous, although urine may flow through joints where the mats meet. With smaller mats, more are attached, so urine flows more. This can be either an advantage or a disadvantage (see discussion below).
- Flat, grooved or soles of feet. Many mats have flat bottoms. With a flat bottom, any urine that gets under the mat (for example, draining from the joints between the mats) can get trapped there. If you have a non-permeable surface under the mat (eg compressed stone) this may not be a problem, but if you have an impermeable surface under the mat (eg concrete), you don’t want to trap urine that releases ammonia and odors. . With groves or feet, such urine may leak out (whether this occurs in the study will depend on factors such as the slope of the underlying surface and whether there are dips in the underlying surface).
- Portable. Some mats are designed to be portable, others are not. Factors to evaluate when considering portability include: weight, size, ability to roll up. If they interlock, check that they can be locked and unlocked easily and without special tools.
- Reversible. Some stall mats have an upper side and a lower side, while others are reversible (flipped). The benefit of the latter is that when one side shows wear, you can flip them for life.
- Flat or textured top. Some mats have a flat and smooth top, while others have a textured top. Smooth tops are easier to clean (grooves or bumps on textured mats tend to trap dirt), while textured tops provide better traction for horses. Some people buy mats with grooves on the bottom and then turn them over so that the groove side is up; This is especially done for high traffic areas such as corridors or washing areas (where water and soap would otherwise create a slippery surface).
- Cut to fit. Stall mats come in a variety of sizes. However, to get a close fit, you may need to cut the mat. In this case, before buying a mat, check that it is designed to allow this.
- Price. Prices may vary, but look at 20-40 euros per square meter as a rough indication.
For photos of different types (interlocking, texture), see Horse floor mats.
If the urine runs off the mats instead of onto the mats, the amount of soiled bedding is greatly reduced. This reduces the time required to clean the stall, reduces the number of bedding changes and reduces the amount of storage space required for soiled bedding.
While these are all important benefits, one must consider what happens to the urine after it is drained from the mat. If the underlying surface has good drainage (eg, a thick layer of crushed stone), urine may run off. However, if the surface underneath is impervious (eg concrete), urine simply builds up under the mats, where it can release ammonia into the air (which is harmful to stabled horses, especially their lungs) and produce unpleasant odors. . Although one can pick up the mat from time to time and clean under them, the fact is that cleaning urine under the mat is much more difficult than cleaning urine on top of it.
As a result, depending on the floor surface you may or may not prefer to urinate. Depending on your preference, you should choose mats accordingly: small mats drain more than large ones (pairs are closer together and have more), straight edge mats drain more than interlocking, porous mats drain more than non-porous.
If you decide to use pee mats, you should consider the following:
- Choose a grooved or underfoot mat to allow urine to flow instead of being trapped.
- Try to have a floor with good drainage. If this is not possible, use flat floors (floors that cannot urinate), smooth floors (so that liquids can flow easily) and floors that are sloped so that liquids can flow.
- Consider choosing rugs that have a design and weight that allows them to be easily rolled out, allowing the floor to be washed down from time to time.
A stall with rubber mats is cleaned (grass fork and/or shovel) like any other stall. Many people also use a water hose for washing from time to time. If there are legs or grooves under the mat, this also helps drain urine out of the joint (see discussion above about drainage).
A pressure jet can also be used. While this is very effective, be careful not to hold the pressure jet directly on the carpet surface as this can damage the carpet (your pressure jet manual should state a minimum distance to keep the pressure jet away from the surface being cleaned).
If your mat needs to be thoroughly cleaned, other cleaning tools that may be helpful are a scrub brush, soap, and disinfectant. Before using any chemical product on your carpet, make sure that the instructions given to your carpet are not caused by that chemical alone.
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