As a horse owner, it is your number one priority to ensure that your horse is healthy, comfortable, and safe. This responsibility includes feeding them nutritious foods, exercising them regularly, providing appropriate veterinary care, and more. But one of the most important, and sometimes overlooked, ways to ensure your horse lives a long and healthy life is by providing the best living conditions, including choosing the right horse bedding materials.
There are many choices available on the horse bedding market—some are good bedding options, and some are poor choices. It is unfortunate that some available options are not the best for your horse’s health and safety. Therefore, it is your responsibility to research and assess all the choices to choose the horse bedding that is the best for your unique equine friend.
Below we have provided some questions to ask and advice on selecting the best bedding products when you search for different types of horse bedding.
Is the Bedding Absorbent?
The level of absorbency is one of the most critical factors to look for in stall bedding. Absorbent bedding absorbs all moisture in the stall, whether the source is water, urine, or sweat. Absorbent bedding keeps your horse dry and thus more comfortable.
Absorbency is also vital for health reasons. When a horse stands in wet bedding for extended periods, its hooves can become too moist and soft and are susceptible to bacterial infections. Also, ammonia from urine is not only an unpleasant smell to live in, but the chemical composition can be dangerous to your horse’s respiratory and lung health.
You should therefore select highly absorbent bedding. Popular choices include wood pellets and hemp shavings that effectively absorb moisture to protect your horse.
Is the Bedding Dust Free?
Many horse beddings are known to produce high levels of dust. Such is the case with traditional straw bedding and some wood shaving options. Excessive dust can be harmful to your horse as it can cause respiratory problems and irritate tear ducts. Horses with allergies cannot withstand high dust levels and will not perform at their best when subjected to adverse dusty living conditions.
Bedding options that do not produce high levels of dust are kiln-dried wood shavings, wood product pellets, and peat moss. Hemp bedding is well-known for completely eliminating dust and is a friendly choice for horses with allergies.
How Must It Be Stored?
Owners must store most horse stall bedding in a covered and enclosed space away from weather elements. Bedding subjected to moisture before use will often spoil or become ridden with mold, rendering it unusable. As a result, it must be kept in a dry location.
Finding a bedding option that is easy to store will benefit you greatly. Some bedding options can be placed on a regular delivery schedule, meaning you will not have to find a large space to store bedding in bulk. However, there are bedding options like wood shavings that come in sealed bags so they do not go bad from the elements.
Is the Bedding Affordable?
It does not make a difference to your horse whether the dollar amount of their bedding is expensive or cheap, but the cost makes a big difference to you as the owner. Cheap bedding options are not often the best choice because they require more upkeep and need replacing often. Therefore, they do not save you money in the long run.
Some bedding with higher initial costs may be more cost-efficient because these products last longer and do not need replacing as often. It is possible to extend the life of your bedding by creating a bottom layer of rubber matting. These mats make the stall floor easy to clean and keep the substrate in better shape.
Is the Bedding Comfortable?
One of the primary purposes of stall bedding is to give your horse a comfortable place to eat, rest, and sleep. It is a well-known fact that horses can sleep while standing up. It is a lesser-known fact that many horses sleep lying down for a few hours at a time. Horses feel very vulnerable when laying down, though, so a horse needs to feel very comfortable and safe to sleep in this position.
Soft substrate aids in a horse’s ability to get good rest and deep sleep. Any type of bedding that is in shaving form is typically a soft and comfortable option. Straw can have pointy or sharp ends that cause skin irritations and is not the most comfortable option.
If you live in parts of the country where snow is prevalent in the winter months, increasing the substrate for warmth will keep your horse at a comfortable temperature. If your horse likes to sleep lying down, selecting comfortable bedding should be a high priority.
Is the Bedding Edible?
Some horses make a habit of ingesting their bedding, and this is not best for the horse because bedding absorbs ammonia and can cause your horse to get sick. It is also difficult to measure your horse’s food intake if they eat substrate when you are unaware.
Because of ingestion, hay is not a great option for stall bedding because it is often appetizing to horses. Some wood options are also not safe if made with black walnut because it is toxic to horses. When switching to a new substrate, it is a good idea to try a small amount in their stall to see if the new option tempts your horse to eat it before buying in bulk.
Is the Bedding Good for the Environment?
It is becoming increasingly popular to select an environmentally-friendly substrate. Eco-friendly may include selecting options that grow quickly, require fewer efforts when harvesting or chopping, and compost easily.
Straw takes a considerably long time to compost and can trap mold and mildew, whereas hemp composts easily and only has a short growing and harvesting season. Compared to wood options that take years to grow, hemp is considered a very environmentally friendly option.
Making a Horse Bedding Selection
When choosing the best bedding for your horse, there are many factors to consider, and these questions will help you make the best choice. Your horse is a unique animal and may have particular needs when it comes to stall substrates.
As horse owners ourselves, our search for dust-free, allergy-friendly bedding led us to discover Italian Hemp. At Canapa Oro, we understand your desire to provide the best for your horse and make sure they are healthy, comfortable, and safe. We are available to answer any questions you may have about Hemp Horse Bedding by calling 866-322-5989.