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Horses are heavy and don't like lying on hard surfaces.  If they do they may hurt their legs, and to avoid this, are more likely to remain standing up.  This in turn causes stress.  So make sure you give your pony a soft layer of bedding.

As well as warmth and comfort, bedding is important for hygiene.  Stale, wet bedding can easily be removed and replaced with a fresh layer.  The bedding also keeps droppings off the ground, stopping the floor becoming slippery.

What To Use

There is a wide range of materials suitable for bedding.  Before you use it make sure it is clean and dry, easy to manage and contains nothing harmful to your horse.  Some horses are allergic to dust and can react badly to fine bedding such as sawdust.

Some materials let urine pass right through and are called non-absorbent or draining.  Other bedding soaks up wetness and are called absorbent or non-draining.  Below is a list of suitable bedding materials you can use.

Mucking Out

Before starting to muck out, remove the feed bowl, water bucket and hay net from the stable.  Put the pony in another stable or tie him up outside the stable.  Collect together all your tools & put your wheelbarrow in  a convenient place. 

First of all remove all the droppings  from on top of the bedding.  Take the dung fork and either pile all the clean bedding from one half of the stable to the other side, leaving behind any droppings you missed earlier.  If you are working from one side to the other, put all the bedding to the clean half of the stable.  Finish the second half in the same way as the first.  Swill out the drain with a bucket of water and make sure that it is draining.

Leave the stable to air for a while and let the floor dry before bedding down.

Bedding Down

Use the dung fork or pick fork and shake up the clean bedding.  Spread it evenly over the floor, piling it more thickly at the sides.  Use the back of  fork to compress the banks of the bedding against the walls.  Level the surface of the bedding in the middle of the stable and check the depth with the fork - the bed should come up to at least the depth of the prongs.

Top up if necessary with extra bedding, shaking it well before you level everything off.

Refill and replace the water bucket and hay net.  Try to allow about half an hour for any dust to settle before you return the horse to his clean stable.

BEDDING is important for two reasons:  It provides a soft cushion for a pony to lie on and makes it easier to keep the stable clean.
STRAW is the most common bedding and is widely used and comes in a variety of forms.
Wheat Straw
WHEN baled, it is often heavily compacted and brittle, affecting its durability and reducing its value as bedding.  Good wheat straw makes excellent bedding but is not easily available.
Barley Straw
THIS is usually longer, of better quality and a brighter colour than wheat straw.  Barley straw can cause problems if the horse is prone to eat it to excess.
Oat Straw
OAT straw is palatable and more expensive.  It quickly becomes saturated, which makes it the least suitable straw for bedding.
Using Straw

THE advantages of straw - it gives a clean and bright appearance.  Straw manure can be disposed of more easily than other types of materials.  In a good harvest year it can be cheap.

THE disadvantages of straw is that some horses will eat the straw and it can cause several problems such as allergic coughing to the dust.  In a bad harvest, straw can be quite expensive.

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