Footing/ mats for overhang area

Hi all
I know there have been some threads about different footing for dry lots/ paddocks but I have a slightly different question.
My barn has a nice size over hang on one side where the stalls have Dutch doors. This side of the bard has a small paddock area with gates that go to the pastures.
I’ve been leaving the gate to the paddock open so horses (only 2) have access to the overhang for shelter if needed. Well - they love it so much that they want to sleep there/ spend several hours. I don’t like them spending so much time on stone.
Right now I have screenings down as footing. This is nice. Works to keep things dry etc but was wondering what options there might be to create something nicer for them to stand on?
The screening are dusty and powdery and I worry about horses eating some of it if I put hay out.
I could do stall mats. An expensive option. Not sure if mats would be a ‘chore’ to keep clean. And not sure if I would regret mats when there’s rain/ snow. Might get slippery.
Perhaps only mat small sections?
What have you guys done? Looking for ideas where horses can stand on a nice comforting surface and figure a way to be able to feed hay and not worry about horses taking in too much sand/ stone dust.
Thanks for any ideas!

A (relatively) easy way to solve the problem is to build some hay boxes. I’ll have to measure ours, but my guess is 2 feet high, 2 by 3 with short 4x4 legs on each corner to keep them off the ground. They’re made of pressure treated wood and we drill drainage holes in the bottom. If you want to slow eating you can build a frame for 2by 3 metal mesh that’ll fit just inside the box and rest on top of the day. We tried to do those but with 12 horses, they were a pain to deal with and we had a genius horse of two that would just pull the thing out and hide it.

We use these in our paddocks for feeding hay in the winter to keep the hay out of mud/ snow and to keep the wind from blowing hay away. They really cut down on waste!

Great idea. Do you have any pictures of the hay feeders you built?

My barn has a 10’ over hang - stall open to paddocks so they have stall, overhang and paddocks (and pasture).
I started with stone in the overhang but it was hard to clean the manure up well so I added mats. I love having mats there. Easy to clean.

Yes, when the wind blows just right they do get snow covered. It is easy to remove if I want to. If it is not deep I typically do not remove it.

The mats are installed so that there is a slight slop away from the barn so water and snow will shed away, not make a bigger mess.

We have a large overhang and plain stall mats, that we sweep out regularly with a push broom.
Takes maybe 5 extra minutes.
That works fine for us.

Two horses, barn overhang as you describe. Stall doors are open 24/7, but the horses choose to go into stalls only to eat or to check out any activity in the barn center aisle… The area under the overhang is stall mats over packed stone dust. It has been that way for 7 years, It is not slippery, it is easy to clean using a blower, I feed hay directly on it, and it is the location of the water trough. Being under shelter the trough stays pretty clean, cool in summer, and easy to get to for ice removal in winter. Luckily the horses choose not to poop on the mats or in their open stalls so cleanup is only tracked in dirt and leftover hay.


Will do shortly!

I was lucky to have some discarded rubber pavers become available so I had those installed under my overhang. A little harder to clean up than mats would be (more joints to catch the tines of the manure fork) but my girls love them.

Same as others, my 12 x 48 overhang is matted over compacted stone dust/dirt. 18 years this year, no issues. Yes,snow blows under on one end but with the mats, it’s super easy to shovel (or FEL with the tractor when the drift is huge like this winter) out. Not slippery, unless horses are acting dumb, but not a real issue other than a displaced mat a few times when they “peel out” in a panic. Easy to feed hay on, as well.

I put interlocking mats down under my lean to. The horses use that are 365 days a year and after 3 years I am still very happy with them. They were slightly slick when they were brand new, but a small amount a rock dust sprinkled on the mats created enough abrasion to get rid of the slickness quickly. The manure is very easy to clean/muck. When the weather is just awful or the bugs are too much to deal with, they will urinate on the mats. My stalls have dutch doors that lead directly to the lean to, so i just get a fork full of bedding and let that soak up the urine and scoop it up.

Here are pics of a hay box inside and out. They actually measure 24 by 46 inches and we made ours from scrap materials so they aren’t fancy. We set them in a mat because otherwise the area right in front of them gets too muddy.

Hope that helps!


Thanks for the replies everyone. Sounds like mats are the way to go!

Thanks for the info here! I find it useful for me too.

love LCDR’s pix. very similar to mine. i’ll go further to suggest go interlocking if you can. i LOVE mine, no shifting, thicker better quality and better drainage. i also love the fact i arranged / laid out a GFI receptacle and positioned my frost free water spigot just on other side / inside barn wall/aisle so i have a plug in cut through for the heated muk tub for winter watering in run . in re haying, love my run in has two hay hoops for easy loading low eating position and i use slow feeder nets with them but no waste or rain or snow on it !

Instead of building hay boxes (I am not handy with this kind of thing), I just bought some stock tanks and put hay in them. (Link below to ones I have.) When we have rainy weather, I have some small plastic pallets that I put down on the bottom of the stock tanks to keep the hay from sitting in water. Works pretty well.

I put the stock tank into one of those four wheel carts which made it simple to bring in from the rain or move to a different pasture or paddock

also limited access by the overeating minies

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I posted earlier about my mats. They are interlocking mats over packed stone dust. The only minor problem is that the horses further pack down the base over time, so the mats do develop air pockets underneath and bulging irregularities. I have occasionally had mice tunnel and nest under the mats too. The bulging isn’t bad, not bad, but enough to trip over in a few areas.

My barn builder and my arena builder have both suggested having the area under the overhang paved with concrete with a perimeter lip, and laying non- interlocking mats over the concrete. The mats would be like a floating wood floor in a house laid over the subfloor, with a small gap around the edges to accommodate expansion and contraction to keep the mats flat.

I have added that to my list, but not as a high priority item.