Best Material For Horse Corral

Maria Garcia
• Saturday, 23 January, 2021
• 11 min read

Wood has been the traditional material used in fencing of all types and is still a very common option for many ranches and stables. Wood corrals are particularly popular, especially on properties where pasture perimeter fencing is wire or electric and the property owner is looking for a more classic look for their corrals or round pens; nothing delivers a classic Americana look as well as rustic wood fence.

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By determining what it will be used for, what size is required and what types of horses will be housed in it, you can plan out a beautiful as well as functional corral relatively simply. If instead, the corral will simply be used for containing horses, the typical square or rectangular design will suffice.

Most corrals are built for the average equine in mind, being strong enough to contain your typical horse and tall enough to thwart the idea of jumping. It is also a good idea to run a strand of electric along the top wood board of the corral to further convince stallions to not challenge their fence.

Also, horses known to be disrespectful to fences, such as those that will freely lean into them to reach grass, or known cribbers can still be housed in wood corrals, so long as a hot strand is used in combination. If the corral is to be a very small space to temporarily keep a horse, a size of 16' x 16' might be sufficient.

After answering these foundational questions it is worth it to go out to the building location and mark out where the corral will be before you start buying lumber and other materials. Having just a slight slope can be helpful in rainwater and Snowbelt escaping the corral rather than becoming a mud pit in spring.

It is highly recommended that larger round pens and corrals have at least a 10' gate so truck and/or tractor access is easier. You may also want to place your gate on the fence closest to your barn or road-access to make maintenance and feeding easier.

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Keeping these factors in mind and building with high-quality materials, you'll soon have a wonderful, useful new corral on your property. The fitness of a horse's legs and feet can be greatly affected by the type of stall flooring chosen.

The most suitable floor is highly dependent on management style, while personal preferences can have a strong influence. Sub floor construction and drainage features are presented as these strongly influence floor integrity.

Porous floors will have an underlying foundation of sand and/or gravel to aid water movement down into the ground below the stable. Impervious floors may be sloped toward a drain so that urine and water can run out of the stall.

Even impervious floors have a few inches of sand or fine gravel underneath for material stability and drainage of subsurface water. For example, concrete may meet most of your stall flooring criteria, but more bedding or solid rubber mats will be needed to protect the horse's legs.

Easy on legs; has some “give” to decrease tendon and feet strain Dry Non-odor retentive Provides traction; nonslippery to encourage the horse to lie down Durable; stays level, resists damage from horse pawing, and has a long life Low maintenance Easy to clean Affordable Consider manure and urine management when selecting the stall flooring material.

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Impervious floors depend on slope for drainage and/or bedding to soak up urine. Stall floors must be durable but also play an important role in the overall health of the horse.

Stall floors that retain odors can deteriorate the respiratory system of the horse. Since horses spend a great deal of time with their heads down, high ammonia concentrations at the floor level can damage the lining of the throat and lungs.

A good floor can inhibit internal parasite survival in the stall environment. Wet material will work its way into adjacent areas through hoof action, creating holes and high spots.

In addition, horses often paw near the stall door or feed bucket from impatience, boredom, or out of habit. Often, a mare will urinate and defecate in one spot in her stall, away from the resting and feeding areas.

Some soil types can resist drainage and result in mud or puddles while others may become dry and dusty. Sandy topsoil is often damp in cold climates and will shift from use, creating uneven footing.

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A mix of 13 fine stone dust and 23 clay is common over a sub-layer of gravel to aid drainage. If pawing at the stall door is a problem, a concrete or asphalt apron can be a deterrent.

Closest to a natural tread Easy on legs Noiseless No dust Keeps hooves moist Highly absorbent Relatively warm Resists wear when dry and compacted Affords a firm footing unless wet Inexpensive Sand is one of the most forgiving floor materials for a horse's legs and has excellent drainage.

However, pure sand does not compact and will move easily creating tracks and pockets with repeated use. Sand can become mixed with bedding materials (especially shavings and sawdust), making cleaning difficult and creating a need for frequent replacement.

The exact mix depends on the area and types of rock and binding agents available. Different grades of road mix are available, ranging from coarse, large particles to very fine.

If the floor is not compacted properly, it will be easily dredged and mixed with bedding by the digging horse. Since it is easy to level and offers some drainage through it, road base mix is often used as a subfloor for rubber mats.

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Small rocks on surface are undesirable, but can be raked up once packed If not compacted well enough, holes develop and material mixes with bedding Wood provides a low- maintenance, level floor that aids in stall mucking.

Gaps between boards allow urine drainage and should be packed with sand, road base mix, or clay (Figure 3). Planks are placed over a level surface of 6 to 8 inches of sand or small gravel to aid drainage or set into asphalt or concrete.

A wood floor helps alleviate stiffness in the muscles and joints by insulating the horse from the cold ground. It offers a softer footing than concrete or asphalt, but may become slick when wet and is difficult to disinfect due to wood's porous nature.

Porous; difficult to clean and disinfect Retains odors Slippery when wet Check often for signs of wear If constructed poorly, is prone to insect and rodent damage By design, the mat is placed over a compacted, level subfloor and topped with another flooring material such as clay, soil, or road base mix.

The open spaces aid in drainage and the matrix prevents holes and damage from pawing. A 1 12- to 3-inch gap is left between boards, so that the lumber grid is filled and topped with a porous stall flooring material (clay, soil, road base mix).

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Steel troweling brings fine aggregate and cement to the top, forming a glazed and slippery surface. For this reason, it is not recommended for use in stalls, although it is often suitable in a feed room where its smoothness eases cleaning.

The brushed concrete, with its small ridges that give it the appearance of being swept with a broom, can be abrasive to lying horses without a deep bedding layer. Some owners recommend that a horse be turned out at least 4 hours per day when housed on concrete flooring.

Using a thick layer of bedding or solid rubber mats can minimize some of concrete's disadvantages. Provide a 4-inch minimum thickness for concrete floors under stalls and where vehicle use is limited.

Hard on legs, unyielding May discourage normal behavior (Lying down, etc) Cold and damp in northern climates Needs more bedding or solid rubber mat Relatively expensive An alternative to concrete, asphalt provides ease of cleaning and longevity with a bit more forgiveness to the horse's legs and feet.

Mats will reduce the amount of bedding that is needed to provide cushioning, or textured models can even be used alone, which is one payback on their cost. Mats are installed on top of an even, compact surface such as 4 to 5 inches of road base mix or concrete.

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Dry Durable Easy to sweep clean Nonslip and skidproof Fire resistant Wide aisles that are used for exercising horses should have a floor of sand or a footing material suitable for use in riding arenas.

Soil floors may be suitable in smaller private stables where the aisle has limited traffic. Avoid drains in the middle of alleys heavily trafficked by horses or in areas that are commonly soiled by hay, dirt, or bedding material.

Grates or drain covers can minimize clogs and should be cleaned regularly to prevent back-ups. In the past few years, rubber has been used to model the look of a traditional brick floor (Figure 7).

Because it is especially vulnerable to visits from rodents, a floor that facilitates the cleanup of spilled grain and dirt is recommended. Four-inch thick concrete with steel trowel finish or sealed asphalt provides a long-lived, rodent-proof floor that can be easily cleaned.

Many horse stall floors function well with no drainage other than careful bedding management for urine removal. When water is added during disinfecting or washing, then drainage becomes more important than urine management alone.

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Floors benefit from some slope to distribute urine and water spills to areas with drier bedding. For drains, shallow and safe open channeling is preferred to the complexity of an underground drainage system.

Severe problems require tile drainage, extra fill, and non-porous floors. Proper floor design considers site-related features to promote drainage from the building.

Underground drains with inlets protected by heavy metal grates (which support horse and light vehicle traffic) may be used, but they are complex and cost more to construct and will almost surely clog with stall waste. A disadvantage of the open channel is potential odor from stall waste accumulation, although proper sanitation management can minimize this.

Open channels can be built with gradually sloping sides to reduce injury for horses and people stepping into them, or they may be filled with large gravel. A heavy, open grill or solid grate may be placed over the channel in areas of horse and vehicle traffic, such as at doorways.

Avoid noticeable sloping floors as this can strain tendons when horses are standing in the stalls. The stall floor could be sloped toward one corner where a cutout in the wall allows fluid access to the channel or drain.

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This design offers advantage for collection of stall wastewater for an underground drainage system. Provide a small trench 2-inches wide extending from the top stall flooring material down to the gravel subfloor layer to collect runoff.

Fill the trench with small stone or large gravel to enhance water movement. Freezing of this water can result in frost action such as heaving and odd settlement of the floor and building foundation.

Lower the water table with well-drained subsoil or perimeter tile drains with suitable outlets. Provide granular fill, which has low-capillary conductivity, under the flooring to break the water's upward travel.

In the worst case, subsoil will need to be excavated to the maximum frost penetration depth and replaced with the gravel. Any building floor should be at least 12 inches above the surrounding grade, but it may be higher if water damage is anticipated.

Selection will most often depend on what characteristics are important to the stable manager and local availability of materials. Proper floor materials can aid stable cleaning and manure removal.

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This manuscript was improved by suggestions from Robert E. Graves Professor Emeritus in Agricultural and Biological Engineering and Brian A. Began, Assistant Teaching Professor in Equine Science at The Pennsylvania State University.

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