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Flooring for Horses

Courtesy Dandy ProductsThe floor that your horse stands on helps to protect his safety. It must be non-slick and cleanable. It must also be durable. In this article, we’ll provide you with some options for equine flooring. 

The best way to tackle the question of flooring is to divide your space into functional areas.  The decisions you make will vary based on use.  

Equine Medical Treatment Areas

If you want to “do it right,” then it is best to install seamless flooring in medical areas. For safety, the floor should be resilient, which means that it compresses and then springs back into shape. It is difficult to find a resilient floor that is durable enough.   

Some equine hospitals and stables with medical treatment areas have installed a poured rubberized floor product over a pad. While this type of product can be successful, be aware that some of the pads are made of an open-cell material. If the top layer is punctured, then water can get into the pad and this can cause a failure of the floor product.      

Another option is a seamless polyurethane system that is poured over a rubber base layer. This installation has the benefit of a cushioned surface while providing a better bond between the top and bottom layers. The bottom layer does not wick moisture, which helps to prevent failures. If you use this product, it is important to get the right level of slip resistance in the top layer. Have the manufacturer provide you with a mockup.

Any high-performance product is going to be expensive. The floor systems described above can cost $20 per square foot or more! 

General Work Areas

For a more cost-effective solution in general equine work areas, consider leaving some of the concrete slab exposed and install a thick rubber surface or rubber mats where the horses will stand. Rubber mats manufactured for equine uses typically have a sealed surface for better cleanability.

Rubber mats are notorious for trapping bacteria beneath them. If you are using rubber mats, remember to periodically clean and dry them. In large areas, it may be better to adhere them to each other and to the slab below. 

Barn Aisles

It is a good practice to use as little water as necessary when cleaning your barn. If you use a lot of water to clean, then it is essential to design the aisles with seamless surfaces. In healthy horse barns, it is acceptable to cut down on water usage and to install a more porous product such as rubber pavers. Rubber pavers are effective because they can be placed indoors and outdoors and they drain naturally if placed over compacted, porous sub-grade. They look great as well!

An inexpensive solution is a simple concrete slab in the barn aisles. Have your contractor finish the slab with a broom finish for slip resistance.

Once you are armed with the right knowledge about your choices, you can stop worrying about flooring and start building your business!

Heather E. Lewis joined Animal Arts in August 2000 and has been a principal in the firm since 2004. Her primary area of expertise is the design and management of equine and large animal projects. Heather speaks regularly about the design of large animal facilities at the Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Conference for the Central Veterinary Conference.  Heather spoke at the 2012 American Association of Equine Practitioners conference on “the equine hospital of the future.” She has been published on large animal facility design topics in Blackwell’s Five-Minute Veterinary Practice Management Consult and Veterinary Practice News. 


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