How does your stall mat drain?

by horselover2

People buy mats for their horse stalls for many reasons: increased traction, less bedding, protection from the cold ground, cushioning for hooves and joints. Stalls with rubber mats are easier to clean and require less maintenance.

If urine drains through the mat rather than resting on top, the bedding that’s soiled is greatly reduced. It also reduces the amount of replacement bedding required, and depending on how many stalls you have; amount of storage space required for soiled bedding.

Although these are important benefits, what happens to the urine after it has drained through the mats also needs to be considered.  If the surface underneath has good drainage, a thick layer of crushed stone, then the urine can drain off. However, if the surface underneath is impermeable, made of concrete, then the urine builds up under the mats, where it can release ammonia into the air. Cleaning urine under the mats is more difficult than cleaning urine on top of them.

Depending on the underlying floor surface you may prefer that urine drains through, or you may prefer that it doesn’t. Depending on your preference, you should choose mats accordingly: small mats drain more than larges ones – joints are closer together and there are more of them; straight edge mats drain more than interlocking and porous mats drain more than non-porous mats.

If you decide to use a mat that allows urine to drain through, consider the following:

  • Choose a mat with grooved or footed bottoms, so the urine can flow off rather than being trapped.
  • Try to have a floor with good drainage. If this is not possible, allow the urine to run off by using a floor which is flat – no dips where urine can pool, smooth – so that liquids run easily and with a slant so that liquids run off.
  • Choose mats that can to be easily lifted out of the stall, so the floor underneath can be easily cleaned.

A stall with rubber mats is cleaned out like any other stall. If the mats have feet or groves underneath, this will help to flush out urine that has drained through the joints.

Other options include using  non-oil based liquid disinfectants like Lysol or Pine Sol. Lime isn’t recommended since it can burn a horses’ skin and gets pasty and slick when wet.  Some people use a pressure jet to clean the stall mat. Although this is effective, be careful not to hold the pressure jet immediately against the mat surface since you may damage the mat.