The Best Equine Bedding

An interesting subject, as each horse owner has a different wish list, absorbency is at the top of mine whereas a close friend has bedding as dust free as possible at the top of hers, therefore this post is not about "the best bedding" but rather positive and negative points relating to each type of bedding I have trialled. 

Things I consider when buying equine bedding; 
1) Cost & size of bale
2) Absorbency
3) Dust
4) Ease of mucking out (wheel barrow space, weight etc...)
5) Smell
6) Taste
7) How much do I want to jump in it? 
I have rated some areas 1-10, 1 represents the lowest score, 10 represents the highest standards in the land!

1) 8/10 - £7.49 (price from my local tack shop, who offer free delivery when 15+ bales ordered). 20kg per bale. A new Bedmax Shavings bed requires 4-5 bales (= £37.45).
Maintenance; 1/2 bales top up per week.
2) 4/10 - This was the sole reason I didn't repurchase Bedmax Shavings, the absorbency just wasn't enough for me, the large pine flakes soaked up the wet but the wet spread quite a lot & stayed wet, I'd end up taking out a lot of wet bedding each day - I dislike leaving wet shavings in my bed as the bed then looks discoloured and gets smelly. This meant I was using a bale a week but in reality needed more which I couldn't afford to maintain
3) 10/10 - Excellent, no dust at all! I suffer with asthma and can get a dry cough and sometimes wheezy when working with bedding, hay etc...but no reaction at all with Bedmax Shavings, also Oscar did not cough after being stabled on Bedmax Shavings 
4) 8/10 - My folk didn't love Bedmax Shavings, it's prongs are too close together and I often found it annoying when shaking the flakes from the poo, I hate to waste clean bedding unnecessarily, although if Bedmax Shavings were your chosen choice of bedding it'd be worth investing in a wider forked folk....that makes sense, right? However when using a poop scoop to skip out, the bedding didn't get dragged into the scoop as smaller flakes often do (can you tell I hate waste!). The wet was annoying for me - as I have explained above - but it is a light bedding, that pats down well and doesn't load the wheelbarrow too much, making it easy to take to the muck heap
5) 8/10 - A beautiful fresh pine smell, although Oscar sometimes lays in his wet at night and as it wasn't the most absorbent bedding I found his rugs were quite smelly when using Bedmax Shavings
6) 10/10 - Unattractive to eat, dry...woody, perfect if you horse eats their bed!
7) 10/10 - A gorgeous bed, because the flakes are bigger, it makes a high, bouncy looking bed that I'd be happy to kip in overnight
Overall - 8/10

1) 7/10 - £8.49 - I had to travel to a tack shop 20 miles away but fortunately it's a flat bedding and I could fit a surprising number of bales in my teeny tiny car, if this is your choice of bedding, they sell Megazorb by the pallet, this is discounted and delivered. 85 litres per bale. To make a bed, Megazorb recommend 8 bales (= £67.92).
Maintenance; 1/2 - 1 bale top up per week.
2) 10/10 - Great, Megazorb say they believe it's the most absorbent bedding available and I'd have to agree. 
3) 7/10 - Double dust extracted, although I didn't notice it was dusty due to it's formula I did find could be inhaled when mucked out as it has a ashy appearance, it is made from wood pulp.
4) 9/10 - Excess bedding when picking out poo falls through the folk easily, ensuring little bedding is wasted. Megazorb is super absorbent therefore wet only taken out 2/3 times a week, and could be even less if you chose, in fact there is NO wet, what you take out is a flat cardboard like compact bed that has absorbed all the moisture. This meant my barrow only needed emptying a couple of times a week but became heavy with the amount of poop in it!!
5) 5/10 - A little wee' scent, good or bad.
6) 10/10 - Resembles grit...can't imagine it'd taste nice, little risk of your horse eating it.
7) 1/10 - No way would I jump in this, for starters it's so flat, doesn't look warm or inviting and it gets quite hard and compacted down.
Overall - 7/10

Please note, I tried a layer of Megazorb, topped with Bedmax Shavings as they have so many positives but it didn't work for me and worked out very expensive.

Bliss Bedding (Eucalyptus)
1) 8/10 - £8.49 - again, another product I had to travel for as my local stockist wouldn't deliver even if I ordered a large quantity, my little car could only mange two bales, and with a 50 mile around journey, this became time consuming as well as costly and is the only reason I have not continued to use Bliss Bedding, it's my favourite. 20kg per bale. Bliss Bedding recommend 6 bales to lay an initial bed (=£50.94).
Maintenance; 1 bale top up per week.
2) 10/10 - The best, the wet falls to the bottom and is held there, it doesn't leaves the top layer of the bed warm and dry. Perfection!
3) 8/10 - Dust extracted, did not notice the bedding was dusty, but it would not be as sharp looking as Bedmax Shavings for example however I think this is due to it's substance, Bliss Bedding is made from premium quality chopped rape straw. 
4) 10/10 - Excess bedding falls easily through the folk and I only took the wet out once a week as the bedding on top of the wet stays bouncy and fresh - I was sceptical when I first tried Bliss Bedding, but rest assured, they're not lying, it really is absorbent!! This meant my wheel barrow lasted days without being emptied but got weighed down with poop again!
5) 10/10 - I have only used Eucalyptus, so can't comment on Basic or Citrus but it is delicious, my stable always smelt calming and beautiful and supported Oscar to have healthy airways and I didn't notice a cough all last Spring when using Bliss Bedding. I know of some racing trainers who actually spray their beds with diluted eucalyptus oils to benefit their equines respiratory system, so I definitely believe in Bliss' scented products.
6) 7/10 - Originally I had this down as a 5 or 6/10 but I upgraded it because when I was researching Bliss Bedding the advisor explained to me their are three types, Basic, Citrus and Eucalyptus. All three are treated with a stable guard disinfectant that makes the bedding unpalatable to most horses - additionally so with the Citrus and Eucalyptus scents and if your horse does find it attractive Bliss Bedding offered to send me additional disinfectant to apply to my bales. There will always be an increased risk of your horse eating their bed when it's made from any type of straw. 
7) 10/10 - The bedding actually bounces, it's light and airy, it fluffs up and beds down deliciously and I would happily sleep on it!
Overall - 9/10

1) 9/10 - £7.44 - free delivery from local tack shop and discounted to £7 a bale when ordering 100+, therefore the yard clubbed together this year and we're all using Woodpecker Shavings this Winter. 20kg per bale. Woodpecker Shavings recommend 5/6 bales to make your horses bed (=£44.64). 
Maintenance; 1 bale top up per week.
2) 5/10 - Not great, the wet is soaked up by the shavings and doesn't spread but it isn't absorbed and therefore the shavings remain wet and when scooped up off the floor, the matting is wet underneath. I take the wet out daily.
3) 6/10 - Woodpecker Shavings are made from kiln dried softwood and dust extracted although my bed has been laid since October now and I do notice dust, not a lot but it is present and Oscar sometimes coughs on this bedding when worked first thing in a morning.
4) 7/10 - Conveniently falls through my shavings folk due to the tiny flakes therefore I waste less bedding, easy to maintain a clean bed, I have to take the wet out everyday therefore my wheelbarrow needs emptying daily...something I don't enjoy although it's always fairly light and easy to move. 
5) 8/10 - On the condition the wet is removed daily, the bed remains fresh and clean smelling, if the wet isn't removed it can smell of wee!!
6) 10/10 - Dry and unattractive, low risk of bedding being eaten for pudding
7) 9/10 - Woodpecker Shavings make a lovely light and fluffy bed that feels warm, it's bouncy and always looks clean and fresh, especially after it has had it's weekly top up bale. 
Overall - 8/10

1) 10/10 - £2-4.50 per bale, price dependant on quality of the straw and straw is often available direct from yards or local delivery for a small fee. It is a long time since I have maintained a straw bed, however used a whole small bale to make the bed initially.
Maintenance; 1 slice a day
2) 2/10 - hmmmm...Oscar's wet seemed to spread even with a good quality straw and I found myself digging for wet and taking it out each day
3) 3/10 - I have used good quality straw that I would rate higher however once the bedding has been in a short time due to its make-up it can become seedy and dusty and affect allergies in humans and equines, Oscar regularly coughs when bedded on straw and this is partially now to him nibbling on it too
4) 3/10 - I use a poop scoop to take out the poo but know a lot of people don their Marigolds and pick it out by hand, then clear the clean straw and folk out the wet straw, this is a smelly job that fills my barrow up too quickly and I have to make an effort to squash it all in and ensure it is emptied daily, although it is always a light load. 
5) 5/10 - A clean straw bed smells warming and homely, however once it has been slept in the smell of ammonia can be overwhelming, yuck
6) 2/10 - I did go for a 1 but then considered that digesting a little straw isn't bad for horses, but this should definitely a consideration when choosing to bed your gee gee on straw. Oscar isn't greedy therefore only nibbled on a small amount, my main concern with Oscar would be choke as it is something he has suffered with in the past as opposed to colic.
7) 10/10 - Scientific research has proved horses lay down more on straw beds than any other type of bedding, this is because it replicates the rough grasslands they'd relax on in the wild! I have only have the pleasure of bedding Oscar on straw when I take him on holiday with me to visit family as it is cheap to set up a bed for a short time and he is always very relaxed and happy in a straw bed. And, nothing looks more natural and homely than a big fluffy memory foam like mattress of straw...if life was perfect, I had access to good quality straw and an easily accessible muck heap, oh and I wasn't always in a huge rush - as I said, in a perfect world - I'd love to bed Oscar on straw.
Overall - 5/10

With the exception of straw, the beddings score similarly overall, this highlights what I explained at the start of my post, each horse is an individual and you choose what works best for your budget, lifestyle, personal and equine requirements and hopefully my personal experiences with the bedding above may help you save money and pin point which one meets your needs the best.
For me personally, if Bliss Bedding was easier to purchase and get delivered it'd be my choice year after year however if I ever win the lottery my horses will have big bouncy straw beds forever more...and a groom to battle the smell of wee and muck them out for me, haha - a girl can dream...

Thank you for reading, Jessica and Oscar xxxx


SealSkinz, Saviour Of Sore Hands

This isn't the first time I have spoken about my poor circulation...and most definitely won't be the last as keeping warm and cosy is my key to happiness (and not just when I am at the yard, this is in life - I am sat curled up in my pyjamas and duvet as I type), and once my hands and/or feet are cold, that's it! I am cold...and I am sad.

Although last Winter and the beginning of Winter 2014 hasn't been our coldest, my SealSkinz gloves are still something I couldn't live without, they're waterproof, durable, breathable and come in slim fit for women...need I continue with the superlatives? 

I wear the women's all weather riding glove in a size medium, their size guide online is excellent if you're unsure of your perfect fit and they cost £40. I find them too bulky to school in, I personally like to closely feel the reins but they'd be comfortable to hack out in on extremely cold days although I haven't ever worn them for this, but they're glued to my hands for every yard chore, I can wash buckets, pick out feet, push wheelbarrows up the hill and open metal gates, all without noticing the harsh effects of Winter on my hands.

 Taking photos outdoors...never easy when you've got so much hair...!!!

SealSkinz have over 30 years experience of developing and manufacturing outdoor extremity products, and so is their success, they now partner with some of the worlds greatest athletes, ranging from runners to skiers, explorers with a thirst for adventure and us crazy equestrian lot! After thoroughly researching the brand, I realised their success is down to the creator feeling the pain of poor circulation and therefore invented a product to prevent the cold getting in - John Logie Baird was meeting our needs when he created his first SealSkinz product, a waterproof sock in 1914 this resulted in minimising the risk of trench foot in the troops. This wonderful man also went on to invent the first television and had a very comfortable retirement I am sure. 

With the possibility of a white Christmas, these are definitely a must have for every equestrian.

Thank you for reading, Jessica and Oscar xxxx


NAF Himalayan Salt Lick

I don't believe in edible stable toys for two reasons, firstly...I am one of lives born worriers, I worry even when there isn't anything to worry about? So the thought of leaving a toy in my horses stable that could be trodden on and leave sharp plastic debris or worse, chewed and swallowed leaves me in a hot sweat. And secondly, because Oscar's temperament is largely dictated by his diet, feed the wrong type of hay and he turns into a leaping Lipizzaner never mind a sugar filled stable toy, treat or lick, therefore the only thing I do allow is a NAF Himalayan Salt Lick.

For anyone who doesn't know, salt, sodium, Na, whatever you choose to call it is vital for every equine diet, it acts as a basic electrolyte. Electrolyte minerals dissolve into the bloodstream and have the capacity to conduct energy to support normal nerve and muscle function, the brain relies on electrical signals for communication. It can also encourage horses to intake more water, which increases urination, keeping everything working nicely, balancing sodium:potassium levels and a hydrated horse is less likely to suffer from colic, so please ensure clean, fresh, room temperature water is always available.

 Yum, yum, yum...

A sign your horse may lack salt in his diet is licking and/or chewing wood, metal, dirt, your hands etc. and I understand a lick alone will not give Oscar all the salt he needs, plus too much licking of this would make his tongue sore, but it's something I have always given him and he has a nightly ritual of mouth full of food, followed by a lick of his salt...and repeat, however the best way to get salt into your horses diet is a generous spoonful of salt in their dinner - introduced gradually. But, if you need a healthy, boredum breaker, or just fancy treating your horse to something new I'd 100% recommend the NAF Himalayan Salt Lick, a small one lasts me 2-3 months and costs just £3.82 and I am never ever without one, for equal health and horse entertainment reasons.

Thank you for reading, Jessica and Oscar xxxx