Horse Facilites, Cross Ties, Rubber Stall Mats, Wash Rack, Water Tank Heater, Roping Box


April 2004

Horse Training, Horse Care, and Riding Books and Videos from Cherry Hill at

Your Horse Barn
Your Horse Barn DVD
Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping Almanac
Horsekeeping On A Small Acreage
Horse Housing
Horse Health Care by Cherry Hill

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Ask Cherry Issue

Horse Facilities


riding, horse, injury,rehab,rehabilitation,surgery,recovery,balance,attitude,exercises, rider, balance, Purchasing a Horse Farm
riding, horse, injury,rehab,rehabilitation,surgery,recovery,balance,attitude,exercises, rider, balance, Cross Tie Aisle Width


riding, horse, injury,rehab,rehabilitation,surgery,recovery,balance,attitude,exercises, rider, balance, Cement Floor With Rubber Mats
riding, horse, injury,rehab,rehabilitation,surgery,recovery,balance,attitude,exercises, rider, balance, Well-Drained Dirt Base
riding, horse, injury,rehab,rehabilitation,surgery,recovery,balance,attitude,exercises, rider, balance, Wash Rack


riding, horse, injury,rehab,rehabilitation,surgery,recovery,balance,attitude,exercises, rider, balance, Water Trough Heater Safety
riding, horse, injury,rehab,rehabilitation,surgery,recovery,balance,attitude,exercises, rider, balance, Manure as Arena Footing
riding, horse, injury,rehab,rehabilitation,surgery,recovery,balance,attitude,exercises, rider, balance, Clegg Impact Tester
riding, horse, injury,rehab,rehabilitation,surgery,recovery,balance,attitude,exercises, rider, balance, Roping Box Dimension

This newsletter is a personal letter from me to you, a fellow horse owner and enthusiast.
My goal is to answer some of your questions and send you interesting stories and helpful tips for your horse care, training, and riding.

Cement Floor With Rubber Mats

  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

Hi Cherry,

I have one stall that has a cement floor in it. It is covered with rubber mats and lots of cedar shavings. What are your feelings regarding this type of arrangement used only for overnight stalling? Can urine drainage be a problem even though the mats are fitted nicely?

thanks so much! Becky

Hi Becky,

Horse HousingIf the mats are fitted tightly and there is always enough absorbent bedding in the stall, it should be OK. Generally with mat covered cement floors, you will need to use deeper bedding not only to soak up the urine but also for the horse's comfort when he lays down.

If you begin to smell ammonia or dank urine odors, you may need to pull up the mats, dry and disinfect the cement floor and relay the mats. However, you may go for years without having to do this if the stalls are cleaned thoroughly and regularly.

Let us know OK? Cherry Hill

Well-Drained Dirt Base

  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

Hi Cherry,

Can I use well-draining compacted dirt as a base for my:

  1. Pole barn including stall area (I'll be using mats for stall flooring but do I need to also use crushed rock even if I won't be using draining flooring),
  2. Pole barn indoor arena (I'll be using processed wood products for footing),
  3. Outdoor arena (I'll be improving my native soil by discing sand in with the dirt),
  4. Round pen (I'll be using sand footing), 5) Sacrifice turn out areas (I'll be using 3/8 minus pea gravel on top of a 5% sloped turn out area)

For the arenas and turn out areas it would seem to me that the dirt would (undesirably) eventually mix with the top footing. Also, I read in your extremely informative books on Horse Housing and Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage that the site for the barn and arena should be compacted. To what degree does it need to be compacted? If the site settles for 6-12 months does it still need to be compacted? Doesn't compaction affect the natural soil's ability to drain? I would much prefer to not have to excavate and back fill with drain rock if that's not necessary. I also read that the arena base should be sloped or crowned to allow for drainage, but is this really necessary in an indoor arena (that otherwise has a good drainage system) and why?

Thanks for your devotion to horses and dedication to details! Sincerely, Jean

Hi Jean,

1. It depends on the type of "dirt" you have. You say it is well draining. We have native decomposed granite soil here so it is well-draining and would be OK. But I haven't lived many other places where the native soil is well draining enough to be OK. However, if you use tight fitting mats and remove most of the urine with the bedding, it might be OK because not much moisture should seep below the mats.

2. The manufacturer of the wood product footing for your indoor arena should be able to tell you if it is compatible with your "dirt". If your native soil does compact well, it might make an ideal base for the wood footing. However, many native soils don't stay compacted under hoof traffic and mix with the wood footing and create dust problems.

3. This sounds good. I'm a big fan of decomposed granite if it happens to be available in your area (you don't mention where you are) you might want to consider it.

4. Yes, that is what I have. Compacted native soil with sand on top. It has worked well for many years. Be sure you buy clean sand - dirty sand will compact and be dusty. And take care not to make the footing too deep - start with less and add until you get what you want, about 2-4 inches.

Horsekeeping On A Small AcreageCompaction of base of arenas - The better the base is compacted, the less it will tend to mix with the footing. Compacting is done with mechanical rollers and water. If you have an excavation company that is familiar with arenas, they will have the heavy equipment necessary to do the job correctly.

Compaction of barn sites - letting the site settle over a winter or over 6-12 months like you say is ideal, especially if there has been moisture to help the settling process. Depending on timing, whenever you have heavy equipment scheduled on your place, take advantage of dual purpose - perhaps preparing the base for the arena and giving the barn site a "going over" at the same time. But if that doesn't work out, letting the site settle naturally usually is sufficient.

Compaction is necessary to provide a solid base for arena footing and for building structures. Although it does decrease the spaces between soil particles, which, as you suggest, decreases drainage to some degree, compaction is essential. AND proper drainage should be taken care of by slope of arena or site, swales and ditches around each, and by the arena footing and the material you choose for subflooringin the barn.

Slope of the outdoor arena should be 1-2 degrees. Generally, indoor arena buildings are set on a site that slopes away from the buidling uniformly in all directions. If the building is set up this way, there would be no reason for the arena floor to be sloped. Cherry Hill

Wash Rack

  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

Hi Cherry,

My indoor wash rack will also be my only indoor tack, groom, vet and farrier area. I haven't worked with stocks and I was wondering if there would be sufficient disadvantages to permanently installing enclosed stocks in this area (possibilities of difficulty with doing farrier work, tacking up, etc.) to outweigh advantages (better control for the vet, safety for beginning students around the tied horse, keeping horse away from shelves, counter, sink and other obstacles in wash rack, etc.). Are stocks a safe place for young horses and for first-time bathers? What is the ideal size for enclosed stocks to accomodate small ponies (10 hands) to warmbloods? I would have a variety of other tie areas outside and in the stalls, but no aisles in the barn for tying.

Will an infrared heater installed above the stocks 11 feet from the ground provide sufficient heat? If not, how can I safely move it closer to the horse without risking having the horse hit it if he rears?

Thanks! Jean

Hi Jean,

I'd suggest leaving the wash rack as an open work area with crossties and both ends. It will make bathing, shoeing, grooming, and tacking up much more convenient and safer. To keep horses away from shelves, counter, etc, install a heavy pipe guard rail around the perimeter of the stall. You can see the guard rail I have in my wash rack in the books Horse Handling and Grooming, Stablekeeping and Horse Housing. (see links above)

Your Horse Barn DVDIf you find you have a need for stocks for vet work or breeding, you can have a set installed outdoors on a concrete pad. The stocks can also be used as a training area for first time bath. It would be great to set the outdoor stocks under a roof overhang or under a tree for shade and shelter.

There is no stocks that will perfectly accomodate small ponies to Warmbloods. You can choose stocks that fit the largest horse and then make provisions to adjust to smaller horses (not as easy as it sounds) or you could purchase an adjustable stock like this one

An infrared heater over your wash rack would probably provide adequate warmth at 11 and it would be risky to mount it lower. Hanging a heater from the ceiling or rafters by chain is a safe option because even if a horse did contact it, it would swing out of the way. Cherry Hill

That's it for this month.
Don't forget, when you ride, keep your mind in the middle and a leg on each side.
Cherry Hill

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  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

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