Straw Stalls

Remember when you were a kid?well, if you’re now over 40 anyway?and all the stalls were bedded with bright, yellow straw’ Remember how much fun it was to snuggle into a corner of the stall and watch your horse/pony munch hay’? That deep, fresh bedding just invited you to sit down in it. It was warm and soft and comfortable. I wonder if kids today drag a bucket in with them to sit with their horses. I can’t imagine nestling down in shavings or wood pellets. it’s just not the same, even when it’s fresh. Of course, shavings and pellets are generally a lot easier overall when it comes to cleaning the stall and getting rid of the waste. Manure piles from straw-bedded stalls are huge! I remember that the breeding farm I worked on in the late 1970s/early ?80s used to burn the straw and manure. Can you imagine that occurring today in most areas’ You also generally don’t have to worry about moldy shavings or pellets, as you would with a bale of straw. And far fewer horses munch on wood bedding compared to straw, especially that apparently tasty bright yellow oat straw. A bag of pellets certainly takes up a lot less storage space than a bale of straw, which is helpful, too. But, still, it’s a trade. Most breeding farms still foal the mares in straw stalls, of course, but other than that I see sawdust, shavings and pellets pretty much everywhere?at least here in the Northeast?with most stalls bedded only as heavy as necessary to ensure the urine is soaked up and the horse can stay clean (of course, straw was horrible about soaking up urine!).? Rubber mats now provide the cushion that deep straw used to give. I vividly remember taking my horse to the 4-H State Fair horse show and bedding him down in about a foot of straw, much more deeply than he enjoyed at home. He wasn?t one of the ones who ate straw, so the next morning he looked to me like he?d had a great sleep, standing knee deep in the stuff.? And I loved sitting there with him, deep in the straw, watching the fair spectators roam by and waiting for time to get ready for my class. I’m not sure what made me feel so nostalgic yesterday while I was cleaning our wood-pellet bedded stalls. It was probably because I was mentally planning an upcoming field trial of bedding materials, including straw pellets and a brand that claims to be ?permanent.? It just made me think about how pretty a deep straw stall is and how much I miss that sight.

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