A clean stall starts off with lime dust covered with 4-5 bags of pelleted bedding. The lime helps reduce odors and the bedding should provide soft footing and be absorbent for both urine and manure. As a result, bedding should be spread in areas that it is needed the most: the center of the stall, locations where the horse is most likely to urinate and any areas that they tend to pile their manure.
Each stall may be different as horses tend to have different habits. Bedding should not be placed in the following locations as it is wasteful and unnecessary: at the entrance of the stall, under the water bucket, under the hay, and under the feed bucket. This pelleted bedding should last a month. Certain stalls may need one bag added throughout the month, others will not.
Different horses have different habits in stalls. Know your horses, know their habits! Here are some examples of horse "housekeeping" habits:
- Differences between the sexes
- Mares tend to urinate in the rear of their stall or in one corner
- Geldings tend to urinate more near to the center of their stalls
- Stallions tend to defecate in large piles, called stallion mounds and urinate more centrally or on their manure piles to mark their territory
- Pooping Patterns
- Rear Wall Poopers: these horses will only poop along the rear wall of their stall
- Corner Poopers: these horses tend to choose a corner of their stall to poop in, and often urinate in the opposite corner
- Doorway Poopers: these horses seem to have it backwards and poop in the doorway to their stalls
- Bucket Poopers: with deadly aim, these horses almost always seem to poop in their water buckets or feed buckets, wherever they may lie
- Everywhere: the worst are the horses that just don't seem to care where they poop
- Stall behavior that affects stall clean-outs
- Rototillers: These horses are pacers, they tend to walk in a circular pattern. The result of their movement tends to cover the manure and spread it to the edges of the stall. It is important to sift underneath the bedding in all corners of the stall to find the buried poop and the hidden urine areas.
- Lazy Horses: some horses lay down on their manure packing it into the stall making it more compact and harder to clean
- Hold-it-in Urinating: many horses, especially in the winter, hold in their urine until they get to their stall. As a result their urine spot becomes large and needs even more bedding for absorbing the urine. If this urine spot isn't cleaned to the bottom regularly the urinated bedding will begin to mound.
- Breeding Season: mares especially urinate more during breeding season
- Slobs: some horses will keep it clean if it starts clean, but if it's already messy they turn into true slobs - similar to humans in our bedrooms!
Daily Cleaning of Stalls:
- Start at the doorway and sift through the bedding using the basket pitchfork, collecting all manure and dirtied hay.
- Where bedding is wet, just toss the bedding without sifting
- Any potential area where the horse has urinated, take the metal pitchfork and dig into the bedding to loosen it and remove any compressed or wet bedding - this may be the entire rear area of the stall
- Scrape all bedding away from the walls of the stall, the doorway or any feeding areas and mound it in the center
Full Cleaning of Stalls:
- You'll notice as the month goes on that the bedding is appearing "used" and it is losing its absorbent qualities and the amount of bedding is reducing. Coach it through the last week of use with very thorough daily cleanings but do not add any bedding because the stall will need a full clean out shortly. Some horses may need a full clean out monthly, others may be very tidy and need a full clean out less often.
- Use the metal pitch fork first to dig into the stall removing as much bedding as possible. You will notice that the bedding may be removed in layers - cleaning a stall may seem like an archaeological dig. Remove all layers until you reach the base of the stall.
- Scrape the remaining bedding off of the ground using the large muck shovels. At this point there should be no bedding, dirty or clean, left on the surface of the stall. All manure should be removed.
- Spread lime on the entire base of the stall, especially where horses tend to urinate or defecate.
- Replace bedding with 4-5 bags of new bedding, centered in the stall.