ALEX: When deciding on a type of bedding for your horse, you should probably first take a look at your stall and what the composition is of the flooring below. Is it concrete? Is it dirt? Is it a rubber mat? That might help you in deciding what type of bedding to go with. There’s straw bedding, which has been common for a long, long time, and is also wood shavings that can be used. It’s a cost factor as well, because some of these types of beddings you can buy by bulk. If you have more than one horse, you can have those delivered to your barn, so it really depends on that.

The reason for the flooring is because you want to know what’s under your horse’s bedding; your straw, your shaving, because you want to give them enough support on top of that flooring so they don’t hurt themselves, they don’t scrape up their hocks when they get up off the floor, they don’t dig a hole in the dirt and create a hazard. There’s a few different things to look at. I think those are the two most common beddings, would be straw and shavings.

STEVE: We’ve seen horses; everything from sawdust shavings, straw, to paper. Some people have chronic allergies. On horses, they’ll use paper.

ALEX: Shredded paper.

STEVE: Yeah. It works from one standpoint, but it is not very comfortable for a horse to lay in, and it’s not the greatest bedding in the world, in my opinion, but it does serve its purpose; that there is very little dust and a lot less algae problems with it.

The benefits of straw is it’s a very, very comfortable bedding. A lot of horses will lay down on it, they rest well on it, and it’s very convenient in most places. It’s fairly cost-effective, and it’s readily available in a lot of spots. The disadvantages are that there are a lot of particulate matter that come of it; spores, molds, dust, and it can create a lot of secondary problems, allergies if it’s been sprayed, and whatnot.

Shavings on the other hand, tend to be a lot more drier, for one; they absorb a lot more moisture. They don’t make as good a bed, most horses don’t lay down on it nearly as much as they would on straw, and they don’t rest as well. It’s very, very clean, and it tends to have very little dust if it’s been prepared, been cured, and blown properly. It’s fairly cost-effective if you buy enough of it. That, along with possibly shavings and sawdust. Sawdust is popular in a lot of areas because it’s readily available if there’s a lot of sawmills in the area that you live in. The problem with sawdust it tends to carry a lot of moisture and it’s not nearly as comfortable for the horses.

If you use straw, you can use it for organic materials, spread around on your fields, doesn’t change the pH much, and it’s actually good nutrients for the soil. If you’re going to use shavings or sawdust, you got to basically mulch it for quite a long time before you do put it on your fields or you burn them up because it basically changes the pH quite a bit; you got to put a lot of lime down. It gets to be a big expense if you spread that over your fields. I typically would more recommend that you use…if you got that kind of situation, mulch it, and then you can either move it, sell it, or have it shipped, or use straw, which we used here for a long time, and we put it right back on the fields. It works great.

ALEX: The point of the story is that what comes in, goes out.

STEVE: Got to go out, yeah. You got to dispose of it somewhere.

ALEX: Yeah.