Wood shavings are the choice of most horse owners. They are more absorbent than straw; cheaper and easier to use as well. Most barns order them in bulk and have them delivered on a regular basis. Lately, the price of shavings has gone up as well as demand. Not sure why since due to this economy there are less people who can afford horses. Maybe it’s because people are wasting more lately. I’ll tell you what I mean.
I am surprised at how many horse owners have no clue on how to clean a stall and utilize shavings effectively. The amount of good shavings being wasted is shocking to me. There have been times that I have noticed large amounts of good shavings in the manure pile and I think,”What a waste.” The only times shavings should hit the wheel barrow is if they are soiled from manure or wet from urine. Due to the horse walking around in his stall, good, dry shavings will not hold their lily white appearance for long. But that does not mean the shavings aren’t good.
Manure forks are designed as to pick up the piles and to shake loose the good dry shavings. Most people seem to use them as shovels though instead, throwing good, dry shavings out with the manure. They also fail to rake back the dry shavings over the wet areas. You need to pull back the good, dry shavings before you scoop up the wet, urine soaked bedding.
It’s amazing how many people think they would be harming their horse’s health if they don’t strip out their stall, taking everything with it every three days! Not only is this a waste of materials, but it is more labor intensive.
We had a boarder who just left that the manager was going to fine because she refused to head the warnings of her using too many shavings when there was a shortage. Many horses were going without much bedding at all while her horse was standing ankle deep in them. Contrary to popular belief, bedding your horse deep is not healthy, but you do need some! She was hoarding while many of us were using old hay as bedding or buying our own in bags.
When I was asked by the manager for suggestions on how to solve the shavings misuse dilemma, I suggested that everyone have to buy their own for a while to teach them the art of conservation. I told her I would much rather pay less in board and have to buy my own shavings than have the price of board raised just because there are some people here who don’t know how to clean stalls. I know that many may disagree with me, but unless people realize how expensive bedding can be they won’t learn to conserve.