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Install Horse-Stall Mats

Enhance your horse’s hoof health and reduce your bedding needs by installing stall mats. Here’s how.

With stall mats, you may be able to eliminate bedding entirely. Photo by Alayne Blickle

Rubber stall mats are excellent for your horse's health, as they provide a dry, level surface for him to stand on — much healthier for hooves than holes, rocks, and wet spots. Stall mats also have a good amount of cushion, which is important for joints and soft tissue.

Using rubber stall mats also makes chore time much simpler. They offer a firm, level surface that allows you to easily scoop up manure and soiled bedding, leaving clean bedding behind.

You can reduce the amount of bedding you currently use, or bed only in "potty spots," minimizing bedding use and the amount of stall waste. You may even be able to eliminate bedding entirely, especially in the dryer summer months.

Stall mats should fit snugly in a stall, from wall to wall, to avoid urine seepage underneath.

Here's how to install stall mats for optimal use and longevity.

Stall-Mat Supplies
First, gather your supplies. You'll also need a helper. Note that if you have concrete floors, you'll just need the materials from stall mats, down.

For dirt or clay floors, you'll need enough gravel (crushed rock, sized 3/8" to 5/8") to fill the stall area up to about 1" below the desired level. Don't use pea gravel or sand; these footing types are too mushy and won't compact.

  • Two 2" x 4" boards — one that's treated and long enough to install across the front of the stall door, and one that's 6' to 8' long.
  • Metal garden rake.
  • Carpenter's level.
  • Hand compactor (you can rent or borrow this).
  • Stall mats (enough to cover the entire stall).
  • Long-pry bar or metal T-post.
  • Two vice grips (four are even better).
  • Tape measure.
  • Chalk (or chalk line) to mark the mats for cutting.
  • Straight edge at least 3' long.
  • Carpet knife (also called a utility knife).
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Installation Technique
Here's how to install the mats. (If you have concrete floors, you can skip to Step 6.)
Step 1. Attach the treated 2" x 4" board across the inside of the stall doorway (Note: Skip this step if your stall already has a lip or an edge at least 2½" high.
Step 2. Gradually add 5/8" minus gravel (spreading as you go) up to the top of the 2" x 4".
Step 3. Use the garden rake to smooth and do a rough leveling of the gravel in the stall.
Step 4. Use the 6' to 8' long 2" x 4" board and carpenter's level to move the gravel around until it's level throughout the entire stall.

After the gravel is in place, leveled, and compacted, position all mats that don

Step 5. Compact the gravel with the hand compactor. The compacted gravel should be about 1" below the desired finish line.
Step 6. Use a long pry-bar or metal T-post to carry the mats to the stall area. Two people can carry the bar with the mat draped across it.
Step 7. Position all the mats that don't require cutting. Using vice grips as handles, maneuver the mats into position. Then determine how you should cut the remaining mat(s). Note: This step is critical. You want to minimize the number of cuts you have to make, and you don't want to have small pieces of mat filling in gaps, as this won't hold up well over time. (Less than a two-foot-square section is too small).
Step 8. Measure the space remaining, and mark the mats with chalk. Leave about 1/8" to 1/4" space between mats.
Step 9. Use the straight edge and the utility knife to cut the mats. (You'll need to make multiple slices to cut all the way through the mat.)
Step 10. Fit stall mats snugly together, leaving about 1/8" to 1/4" space between mats.

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