Soft Coverings for Horse Stalls

There are three types of rubber flooring for horse stalls

  • Rubber Mats. These are flat mats, fitted together to cover the stall floor. Their advantages include: less bedding required, better traction, insulation, and yielding surface (more comfortable for horse, less less joint injuries). See horse stall mats for details and photos.
  • Poured Rubber. With this solution, liquid rubber is poured onto the stable floor and allowed to harden, to form a seamless wall-to-wall rubber surface. It offers the same advantages as rubber mats, plus the additional advantage that urine or dirt cannot get under the rubber. See liquid rubber stall for details.
  • Cushioned rubber. The latest generation of stable coverings, it provides a wall-to-wall rubber floor, which is sealed so that urine or dirt does not get underneath. It differs from the above in that rather than being a hard rubber floor, it is more like a yielding mattress.

Since both rubber mats and poured rubber stall floors are covered elsewhere (see above links in blue), this article will consider the third option of cushion rubber floors.

The following photo shows a horse standing on a cushioned rubber floor. One can see that the hooves sink slightly into the floor covering, as it is yielding. This type of soft surface is beneficial for horses with hoof problems (e.g. laminitis) which makes the underside sensitive to pressure; as such it has certain therapeutic applications.

Horse on cushioned stall floor 

When choosing this type of product, factors to consider are:

  • Quality of materials. For example, does it use rubber for cushioning or foam?
  • Type and thickness of covering. The inner cushioning layer should be covered with a thick and durable fabric, which will not be damaged by horses walking on it, even if they are wearing shoes. If one has a horse with shoes which have studs, then this is particularly important.
  • Sealing. The floor may be covered by a number of mats joined together. The joins should be thoroughly sealed, to prevent urine from getting under the mats. In addition, the top fabric layer should wrap up the wall, for the same reason of preventing urine from getting underneath. Of course, at the stable door this is not possible, so a stable floor that slopes downward to the door or sealing to the floor at this point is preferable to prevent urine running underneath.
  • Not too soft. Any floor covering, be it a mat or bedding, which is both very thick and very soft, does not provide a reliable footing. Consequently, low quality versions with thick, soft foam may not be suitable.

Although there is a certain expense to this product, this is offset over time by the fact that less bedding is required on a daily basis, since the covering provides part of the functions of bedding (e.g. insulation, traction, soft surface). However, one still needs to put some bedding in, to absorb urine and to provide mental occupation for the horse. Eventually, the product will pay for itself through reduced bedding consumption. In addition, it provides the horse a very comfortable surface to stand and lie on.

One can also use this type of product to cover walls, such as in stalls or in horse trailers. Following is a photo example:

Cushioned wall covering

There are a number of companies which produce cushioned floors and walls. As an example, click on Soft StallTM. All photos on this page are reproduced with the kind permission of Soft Stall.