Advantages and disadvantages of stall mats
Mats aren’t meant to replace bedding. They’re designed to make stalls more comfortable for horses and easier to clean. Consider the following advantages and disadvantages before you decide which type of mat to purchase for your horse’s stall or your horse barn.
Advantages of Stall Mats
Sterilization: Stall mats can be sterilized with disinfectant, which is difficult with surfaces like wood or earth. If a horse or groups of horses contract a contagious disease the barn, stall floors and aisles will need to be disinfected.
Warmth: Materials used to make horse stall mats, usually rubber or a combination of rubber materials, are naturally insulating and more comfortable especially during the winter.
Traction: Concrete, asphalt and wooden floors can be slippery when wet; mats provide better traction and reduce risk to horses.
Smooth: Many mats have a smooth surface, which is much easier to hose off and clean than concrete or wood surfaces. Some mats have slight ridges, also easier to clean than other surfaces.
Yielding: Most barns have hard concrete floors. Unless you provide a thick layer of bedding, concrete will stress your horses’ joints, possibly injure his/her feet, and cause sore points if the horse lays down to rest or sleep. Mats provide a softer and more yielding surface which is more comfortable for horses and less likely to result in impact stress injuries.
Drainage: Unlike concrete, mats allow urine to drain off. Usually this happens at the joints between mats, although some types of mats let the urine drain through the mat.
Bedding: Less bedding is needed with stall mats, because the mats act like bedding and less bedding is soiled. Mucking the stalls is also easier.
Disadvantages of Stall Mats
Expensive: All stall mats cost extra. Higher quality, thicker mats will cost more than less expensive, thinner mats.
Urine Seepage: Urine can seep under the mats, where it is difficult to clean without removing the mats. With close-fitting mats, preferably interlocking, the amount of seepage is limited. If you’re unsure what type of mat to use, try out mats in one stall before investing in mats for all the stalls.
Other disadvantages are related to the technical aspects of rubber mats. Due to these various characteristics, consider how the mat will be used and choose the mat type accordingly; otherwise you’ll be disappointed. If you can’t decide ask your barn manager, veterinarian or another barn owner.