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Caring for a Horse in the Stable

in Stable








Keeping Your Horse Stabled










How to Care for a Horse in a Stable

Choosing and maintaining your horse's stall are important parts of providing your animal the proper care. Most important, you have to make sure the horse gets adequate food, water and exercise. Read on to fully understand the needs of a stabled horse.
Things You’ll Need:

  Bitter Apple Sprays
  Fly Mask With Ear Protectors
  Fly Repellent
  Lead Ropes

Step 1:
Find a stall of adequate size. A 12-by-12 stall is sufficient for most horses. Larger horses will need more space.

Step 2:

Consider a stall with an adjacent paddock, so the horse can walk freely between inside and out.

Step 3:

Make sure the horse has plenty of fresh water. There are automatic waterers that keep water in a bowl at a certain level. You can also keep water in a large container (a 20-gallon bucket works well).

Step 4:

Feed from a manger to keep food off the floor. A horse eating off a sandy floor can ingest sand, which can cause colic.

Step 5:

Understand that stalls made of wood are the most horse-friendly. Stalls made of cement block or concrete walls can damage a horse's foot or leg if kicked.

Step 6:

Make sure the barn has adequate ventilation. Bacteria breeds in stale areas. Open doors to allow sufficient air circulation.

Step 7:

Horses produce up to 40 pounds of manure and urine a day. Keep stall clean and make sure liquids can drain adequately from the stall.

Step 8:

Choose bedding that is comfortable for the horse. Shavings on top of dirt and sand make an ideal bedding.

Step 9:

Allow at least 20 minutes per day of turn-out time. Horses should have a large, open area to run and play in.

Step 10:

Turning two horses out at the same time can increase the amount of exercise both horses get, but chose turn-out mates carefully. Horses can be aggressive toward one another.

Step 11:

Keep flies under control. Use fly sprays on the horse, taking care to protect the eyes. Consider putting a fly mask on the horse to keep flies out of its eyes.

Step 12:

Use a daily wormer to rid the horse of worms.

Step 13:

Keep your horse vaccinated. Especially in a boarding facility where horses come and go, your horse can be exposed to all sorts of bacteria and disease. Inoculate regularly.

Tips & Warnings:

Paddock doors should be the Dutch style - with upper and lower portions that can be opened separately. If you want to keep the horse in the stall, you can open the top half of the door to let in fresh air and sunlight.
Straw is sometimes used for bedding but it's not the best choice. Some horses may try to eat the unsanitary material.

Rubber floor mats with shavings on top can be used for bedding. But a dirt floor with a sand base for drainage and shavings on top is more comfortable.
Roll on fly sprays that are specially designed for the eye area and face should be used if you don't have a fly mask.
If your horse is a cribber (a horse that chews on things), consider using a chew-stop (such as bitter apple) sprayed or applied to exposed wood to prevent the horse from chewing the surface. Chew-stops can be purchased in most pet or tack stores.
Even if the horse is indoors, consider using a horse blanket in winter.
Horses kept in stalls for extended periods of time can acquire unpleasant habits such as weaving or cribbing. Horses are wild by nature and need to be free to roam outside as often as possible.
Make sure the stall has no exposed nails or wires that the horse could cut itself on.

Make sure bedding is:
Comfortable for the horse
Secure footing
Not dusty
Urine proof
Supports the feet
Encouragement for resting


Wood can contain toxic resins that could be harmful to the horse and could cause hives. Do not use shavings with black walnut, it could make a horse founder. Pine shavings are dust free and most absorbent. Smaller flake shavings are better for comfort. Shavings should not be used for foaling because they could stick or cause breathing problems to a newborn. They could also eat the shavings and could cause colic.


This is best for foals. Plus it doesn't stick after birth. Straw drains well but is not absorbent. Spiders or insects may find straw to be a home for them. Wheat is the best of the straws because horses will not eat it.


Sawdust can be very dusty. It is very absorbent, be very careful which dust you use. It may be toxic.

Pelleted wood:

Less dusty and is three times more absorbent than shavings. Acts like cat litter. Do not use hardwood pellets because it may contain glue or dangerous woods. Make sure it is heat treated too.

Peat moss:

Very comfortable and absorbent. Can be used in pastures. Use it along with shavings or straw because it does not supply good foot support. May cause dry hooves. Requires more daily maintenance.

Corrugated cardboard:

This bedding is made of cut up cardboard. Dust free, and more absorbent than straw or shavings. It is not as clean looking as shavings may be though. It is very cheap $5- $8 for 50 pounds.

Shredded paper:

Inexpensive. 6 times more absorbent than sawdust and 10 times more absorbent than straw. The bad part is it is hard to clean. I also could stain a horse's coat.

Grass hay:
Some farms prefer this over straw for foals. It is not very absorbent, high risk of your horse to get hives. Also not good support.


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