Stall floors and storing wood shavings
So, I'm moving back in with my parents soon. I don't plan on moving my horse back into their barn, because I hate it, but if I have no other choice, then I will. So here's my set of issues and questions.
First, my issue is that the barn sits on top of a hill, in the woods, and despite all that, has poor drainage. The floors of the stalls are dirt, and it's really hard to get trucks or trailers up there to bring in a new load of dirt to fill in the holes. This means that the floor of the main stall (aka, the only stall big enough to keep a horse in) is very uneven. I plan on leveling it out, but I don't know what to do next. I thought about laying a cement floor in it, with a layer of sand to soften it up some, and putting rubber matting over it, so that cleaning would be easier, but would there be any complications with urine leaking between the mats to the cement?
I also thought about laying pea gravel and sand, with something like a StallSkin or regular rubber matting, but then, the drain off would go right back down to the dirt under it all and create a deep laying mess. Which is the more viable solution?
Second, I prefer to use wood shavings in my stall. I know that buying in bulk is cheaper, but I don't know where to store them all! We have a lean-to by the barn, but it's open on three sides, the only closed side being placed against the barn. This makes it not a good solution. We have no big containers. What do you store yours in? How viable would an old dumpster be?
While I'm on the question kick, my horse has a destructive habit when it comes to eating. I've bought several heavy-duty plastic buckets from Tractor Supply, that hook over a ledge, and then you screw them down. When he eats, he sticks his nose in and practically slams his nose left to right, getting as much in his mouth as possible. The plastic buckets then break. I've tried the rubber bowls, and because of how he flings his head around, the grain goes flying and then he gets nothing. *sigh* So what I'm considering is buying an extra water bucket, and getting an old tire, like a car or tractor tire, just the rubber, and line the inside with rocks to weight it down, and then set the grain in the bucket, and the bucket down inside the tire. That way he couldn't fling it all over the place.... unless he grabs it and picks it up in his teeth. Gah. I have such a silly horse.
Does your horse need to be in a barn? Or could you get by with keeping your horse outside? If the barn is inaccessible to trucks, how are you going to get the cement there? I don't know if you know how much work there is with installing concrete, but you can't just throw some down over the dirt. If you do put it in, you can have it where it slopes so the urine runs off. What I would do is level the dirt, lay boards down and put rubber mats over top. You'll have to secure the boards somehow so they don't move around. Then you can use bedding on top. For only one horse, I would just buy the packaged bedding instead of buying bulk. With the rubber mats, you don't need to use much bedding.
As for the grain issue, even though he spills the grain, horses are pretty good and picking that grain up. Are you graining him in a stall or in a pasture/pen? If it's in the stall, use a water bucket and hang it with a tie down so it can move around. When he moves his head side to side the bucket will move too and not break. For in the pasture, I've seen square bowls for salt blocks that don't tip over easily. We use rubber bowls and they usually tip the bowl over. However, they usually clean up most of the grain. You'll probably have some grain lost no matter how you feed them, whether they spill it or it drops from their mouth.
Really, his stall is more like an in and out. Theres the stall gate on the inside, and then a door way that he knows how to work that leads to the pasture. The barn is the only source of shelter in the pasture, and it's just easier to feed him inside the barn than walking around the outside of the pen to a relatively dry place to hang hay nets from trees and stuff. It's just a pain. I've tried. And I was going to slope the floor of the stall to allow run off to go under the barn siding.
Also, my dad spent a lot of time as a construction worker, and he and my brother and my cousin are all willing to mix the cement by hand and lay it.
Also, very good idea about the grain bucket hanging from a tie down. No way I would have thought of that, and it takes up a lot less space than a tire does.
If they are willing to put the cement in, I would go that route because you would have to replace the boards sometime in the future. They would rot out.
Did you understand what I meant about feeding him in the bucket? That's the way the stalls have the water for the horses at the stable we are at. But we have our horses outside 24/7.
I think something like a bungee cord looped in a circle around the bucket handle and whatever the bucket is attached to (in my barns case, a wooden rail) would also allow it to move without breaking... and would let him bang his nose around without breaking his nose.
What about placing a brick in the bucket (assuming this is a shallow rubber floor bucket/bowl) so he can't swing his nose around and has to eat patiently?
I have a similar issue with uneven flooring and am contemplating how to fix it. Right now, it's not dirt but flat (concrete?) rock placed (at one time) evenly on the ground. The "floor" also slopes backwards, so it's not level. My hubby does concrete for a living so I think I'll just have him pour a new floor. :shrug: Not sure yet tho.
As for your horse slinging the bucket - a friend of mine's horse did that stuff all the time!!!
What about feeding him in a trough instead of a bucket? Or a Round metal bucket instead of rubber. Put it on the floor instead of hanging it. Just an idea.
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