I am putting in stalls, and one of the stalls has a floor that is currently large stone "gravel", but the stones are smooth. I'm certain that the ground beneath it is sand, and I'm hesitant to dig it up because it will likely drain really well. What can I put on top of it to fill in the spaces between the stones, add a couple inches to make it level with the bottom of the stall boards, and make it a more appropriate floor for a stall? Limestone dust? Topsoil?
I'm not a huge fan of rubber mats. First, the stall is an odd shape (11'X15') due to the pre-existing structure of the barn, so it would be difficult and extra work to find mats that would fit. Second, I'm simply not a fan of rubber mats. Third, they're probably more expense than I'd like to pay, but because of the other two reasons listed I haven't really looked into it that much. I haven't completely ruled them out, but if there's an easier way to do a dirt or other floor, I'd do that.
I would say that it depends on how often you plan on using your stalls.
At my parent's farm, our stalls have a clay base which has worked for the past 15 years since the horses have ample shavings and are only inside when it's miserable outside. Of course, as time has gone on, our hot house flowers have decided that they prefer to spend more time in the stalls under a fan when it's hot, or buggy, or raining... Which led to the stall floors becoming uneven with that dreaded pit in the center. So this year we added stall mats.
My barn was repurposed, and had a gravel/sand/stone floor (after we ripped out the old cement). I keep my horses in when it's excessively cold or wet or buggy (hot house dressage horses, again), so I skipped the need for a relevel every year and used stall mats. I packed a fine gravel/sand base then laid 3/4" mats over top of it. My stalls are 10'x12', so not quite as irregular sized as yours, but I find that once teh mats are in, it doesnt really matter.
The pros: My stalls are still level. My bedding costs are less than half of what I needed for unmatted stalls
The cons: Upfront cost; each 4'x6' mat cost nearly $50. And the big mats are heavy and awkward to move in.
A friend of mine used Stable Grid backfilled with stone dust in all her stalls. It makes a permeable surface that horses can't dig holes in. But resulting floor is hard, and requires deeper bedding. If it were me I'd level the floor with decomposed granite and go with the rubber mats, if only because it makes the stall so much easier to clean. You can cut'em to fit.
If it were me, I'd fill it with sand to level and cover with a stall skin. You'll get a stall that will drain really well, be easy to clean and the stall skin is easy to install and cheaper than rubber mats or stable grids.
I am a very happy user of Stable Grid. It is easy to install and can be cut to fit wierd sizes. Just put it down and fill with stone dust. It drains wonderfully. I have had it for about 10 years and it hardly shows any wear at all. And if you don't like it in the stall, it works great for mud control at gates.
I have not had any issues with it being harder than other stall surfaces or needing extra bedding. As a breeder, I can tell you that horses in a field will lay down on anything, regardless of whether you or I think it is comfortable.
Snowflake- the stall skin looks great! I need something easy, I will have to install it by myself.
The horse in question is on stall rest for months healing a significant hoof injury, so he will not be leaving the stall. After that, I hope to do turnout for a few hours a day when I'm home.
I have also looked at the stable grids... it's on my list of potentials. If anything, I may buy some and use it in the muddy pasture spots like they suggest on the website.
They install in an afternoon. It's easier with two people but you can install by yourself. My recommendation is to modify by upgrading from the plastic edging supplied by the manufacturer and go with either a pressure treated 2x4 or better yet composite decking. It will hold up a lot better in the long run. I've had them 11 years and they're still going strong. Love them and wouldn't use anything else!
We just built a new farn. We have a main barn with 9 stalls, a double foaling stall, and shed rows on both sides. We also have a 4 stall stallion barn and a hay barn with a big shedrow on the back side. All the stalls and shedrows are bedded the same.. Our soil base is a clay/sand mix. There is a base of hauled in sand on top of that that made up the pad for the barn construction. Then we put about 4 to 5 inches of limestone screenings on top of that. We put shavings on top of that - no stall mats. They are draining VERY well and we are not having to use nearly as many bags of shavings as we did before with matted stalls. So far, we are very happy with this set up.