Horse people are a notoriously traditional set. Most of us don’t love change, as evidenced by things like our centuries-old competition uniforms and the fact that most of us would never consider mounting from the right-hand side. (How many of you still strap on your sword belt before mounting from the left? That’s what we thought). Sometimes this traditionalism shows a respect for the past and sometimes it just causes additional time and stress. The key is understanding what’s been passed down for good reason, and what we’ve simply grown accustomed to.
One thing most of us have grown accustomed to? Conventional softwood bedding for our stalls. And while it’s common to associate a well-maintained barn with sky-high stacks of brown paper shavings bags, there’s evidence to suggest that what we believe is “good” could actually be better; better for our horses’ health, better for barn management, and yes, even better for our state of mind.
So we’re going to take a look at Sani-Care—premium hardwood bedding that is a stall-cleaning game changer.
Let’s separate myth from fact, shall we?
Myth 1: Softwood shavings are a more natural bedding alternative.
They may look different, but microcube hardwood bedding like Sani-Care is just as natural as the shavings you’re used to seeing—it’s just shaped differently. That’s because microcube bedding is made from 100 percent natural wood; a sustainable blend of Beech, Birch, and Maple trees. And what’s more? It doesn’t contain processed chemicals or additives of any kind.
Myth 2: Since pine and cedar shavings are widely used, they must be healthier for my horse.
We don’t mean to freak you out, but softwood bedding like pine and cedar can emit unhealthy organic compounds (i.e. aromatic hydrocarbons, phenols) that have been linked to things like allergies, asthma, and other respiratory problems. Hardwood microcube bedding is heat-treated to 1,200 degrees to sanitize it, eliminate potential allergens, and control odor naturally, without harmful vapors or aromatics. (Psst…in case you need a second opinion, Sani-Care also meets National Institute of Health standards!)
Myth 3: I’m already a fast stall cleaner—learning to use a new product will just slow me down.
Not a chance. If you’re already a fast stall cleaner, you’re going to be a lot faster with a super-absorbent microcube product that does much of the work for you. Sani-Care sucks up moisture like a sponge, and makes it easy to find and sift out urine and manure, which creates far less waste than traditional shavings.
“It saves an amazing amount of time,” says Zach Bendler, who, along with his wife Rachel, owns and runs Bella Run Equine rescue in Athens, Ohio, and has been using Sani-Care exclusively in the barn for the last six months. “It takes almost half the time that it used to take to fully clean a stall,” says Zach Bendler.
Myth 4: I’m thrifty, and specialty beddings like hardwood microcubes are too darn expensive.
Thanks to their seriously insane absorbency and easy siftability, hardwood microcubes pull a lot more weight than their softwood shaving counterparts. So what does that mean? It means the amount you pay per bag needs to be compared to not just one shavings bag, but the bags you’d typically need to add to replace bedding during the course of a month. Add to that a reduction in your monthly waste disposal costs (less waste = less hauling and spreading) and hay waste (it’s easy to sift out of the microcubes!) and the long-term savings speak for themselves.
Myth 5: Dusty shavings and pine flakes stuck to my horse’s feet, wraps, and blankets are a part of life.
They don’t have to be! Not only are hardwood microcubes processed to make them virtually dust free, but they easily brush off blankets and won’t stick to your horse’s body. Rachel Bendler uses the example of Mercy, a Bella Run rescue who arrived at the farm with a punctured eye. Sadly, Mercy’s eye had to be removed, but the recovery process went far better than Rachel had anticipated.
“The wound had to stay clean. It had to stay dry. She had several staples,” Rachel Bendler says, adding that despite drainage from the area, the Sani-Care bedding didn’t stick to Mercy’s wound. “I didn’t have to worry about it, which was huge,” she says.
Myth 6: I’ll need to change my entire stall cleaning program to switch from softwood shavings to hardwood microcubes.
Wrong. The one thing you may need to add to your stall-cleaning program: a fine-tined manure fork. And you won’t need to tow around that overflowing wheelbarrow you can barely lift. You’ll be following the same picking, sifting, and mixing regime that you always have. Only now, you’ll have far less occasion to strip your stalls.
Are you going to miss stripping your stalls regularly? We didn’t think so.
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