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We just built our barn last month with dead sand as the base. One horse digs under her feeder, another at the door, two dig out the center to roll, which is causing bedding to get mixed in with dirt and we end up hauling as much dirt out with each cleaning as we do manure. Mats are too expensive for us right now. Any suggestions? We are also considering hot-top or cement for the aisleway- any advice there would be much appreciated as well. We live in Maine if weather is a factor. Thanks ahead of time!
-- Epona (email@example.com), September 07, 2000
The best floors in stalls and barns that I have seen were a four inch layer of packed gypsum. You can buy it by the bag from farm or garden centers or use busted up sheetrock.
-- Laura (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 07, 2000.
If you have runs off of your stalls, put some sand out back for them to roll in and then they won't roll inside. The first two horses are probably pawing at feeding time. Can you put some large stones or concrete chunks where they are pawing to try to break the habit? Pawing has been, in my experience, a tough habit to break in horses. You may have to try free-feeding grass hay for awhile (several months) sometimes that works. That way they have something to eat in front of them all day and feeding time is not such a big deal. If you try this, be sure to gradually work them into it. If they are not used to free feeding, they could colic. Using the same amount of feed PER DAY, spread it out over more frequent feedings until they have hay in front of them all the time. Then you can drop to once or twice a day feedings, whatever makes you comfortable. Be careful that you don't increase the DAILY amount of feed though, or you will waste a lot.
-- Monica Flood (email@example.com), September 07, 2000.
The horses are bored! If there's not a fence around the barn area, if possible, put a fence around the barn area, leave the doors open so they can enter/leave when they want, and free feed grass hay. Start with a small amount, add a little more each night, they'll soon realize it's always there and just nibble. Many horses, in the heaviest snow country, will choose to stay outside. If you start turning them out now, they'll grow the coat they need for the winter.
-- ~Rogo (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 07, 2000.
Laura-thanks, never heard of gypsum. Monica-thanks, too. The horses are turned out 12 hours a day on grass and have hay in their stalls at night. They are fed oats and/or grain twice a day as well. The pony's problem is that she was a rescue: had to fight for her feed which was moldy hay in a herd of 20 or more horses, ran wild in the suburbs for two weeks after being abused by next owners, and then locked in a stall with little beet pulp feed before we got her. She still kicks at our horse next to her through the walls while she eats as well. The racing horse just wants to be out, so he paws at the door(after a life in stalls he is apreciating all the turnout and rolls as soon as he gets out and as soon as he gets in, he's just started the pawing and getting a personality. After several months with us, he's finally eaten his first apple- wouldn't touch them before that). One is a Morgan who was neglected and loves rolling as much as the standardbred. And then we have a stud who can't go out at the same time as the rest due to the mare and he's just full of hormones.(He gets turned out when the others come in). We have only one, a retired standardbred, who keeps a perfectly tidy stall. Quite the hodgepodge of horses. I'm a rider hooked up with a racer:)
-- Epona (email@example.com), September 07, 2000.