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Thoughts on trailering with or without bedding

As the title says. What is your thought on using bedding on the floor of the trailer?
I’ve heard pros:

  • encourages horse to pee on long trips
  • may make the trailer less slippery
  • may make the floor look less like a black hole of death for loading

I’ve also heard cons:

  • more potential fire hazard
  • can make the trailer more slippery in some cases
  • more dust in a smaller area
  • have to clean and throw away bedding every trailer ride

I don’t use shavings on short hauls because I have very thick and grippy mats in the trailer.

On long hauls I bed deeply to help provide cushion and to absorb manure and urine.

Several years ago a friend taught me to always put a fly mask on horses when hauling to help protect their eyes from general debris. A fly mask that covers the nose as well might help for shavings dust. I’ve never bedded with straw, but I imagine that would be quite slippery.


I always bed, even if just a little to absorb any manure. I also have an aluminum floor (not my favorite) so the shavings provide some cushion.

More than that, I find shod horses are more likely to slip on bare mats. My horse is barefoot, so it’s less of an issue, but when he had shoes I bedded deeper.

The fire hazard thing scares the living daylights out of me, tbh. Spontaneous combustion isn’t the issue so much as some idiot flicking a cigarette into the trailer. I keep the screens closed in the windows, and only haul with the top doors over my ramp open when I have to. I’m in the south so that’s often, but it seems less likely that something will fly in the back of the trailer vs an open window.


Yeah, the horror stories I’ve heard are from cigarettes. It’s probably more of an issue with the open stock sided trailers (these seem to be more popular on the west coast too, maybe for heat dissipation reasons) but the thought of the ground under my horse being on fire is pretty darn concerning.

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I use bedding because my horse likes to urinate on the trailer, even when there is no bedding, and her manure on the trailer is typically loose.

I am not sure how my shavings are a fire hazard. I have a two horse straight load trailer and all windows have screens.

I do not throw away bedding after every trailer ride. I am too poor to waste perfectly good bedding. I clean the manure out of it and if I am using the trailer again soon I make a pile in the center of the mat in the trailer. If I am not using the trailer any time soon I strip the trailer and put the bedding in one of my stalls.


Always with bedding. I have mats, but as others pointed out, bedding (I use shavings) absorbs pee and I hope gives horse better footing. One comment about fires in trailers, I never haul with the windows fully down. They are open, but have the screens in place. Same reason as above --trailer fires. And I always haul with the doors over the ramp screens in place, windows open. I have bulkhead windows that allow me to open the front windows in the tack area, and then the air blows through the trailer, on to horse, and out the back windows --everything screened.

And make sure you have a fire extinguisher in the truck and the trailer that is easy to reach. When I had kids (and grandkids) we had a fire drill once a year (just like at school) with the horse trailer. They all knew where the fire extinguishers were, how to operate them, and what to do –

We have break-away ties in the trailer (pieces of twine --not hay rope, but cotton twine) that hold the tie ropes in the trailer --a good jerk will break them.

And Velcro-ed just inside the trailer door is a carpet knife that will cut a lead rope in one stroke --peal and stick Velcro on the handle and on the trailer door just inside the dressing room. I also have Velcro-d a tire gage and a hammer --same place. Very handy and out of the way.


I used bedding most times with my regular/smooth mat Sundowner. No bedding with the textured mat Featherlite. No bedding in the WERM floor 4 Star.

I have a Hawk on order coming in September. The texture of the mats and the length of the haul will determine if I bed. I prefer to not if I can.

@trubandloki yours might not be fire risk unless the cigarette burns through the screen, but lots and lots of people haul with windows down (bars or no bars), and lots of people have stock trailers. It’s the cause of most on-the-road trailer fires.

Always with bedding, reasons for the horse is for peeing obvs, but also another layer of shock absorption from road vibration.

For the health of the trailer, it’s to protect the aluminum floor under the mats. I pull out the mats 2x year and power wash the floor, but I want as little of the corrosive substance to make it under there as possible! If I had a werm floor, the answer would probably be even more being due to all the issues with horses wearing through and creating small nicks where the pee could penetrate (and be trapped) between the werm coating and the aluminum floor.

I have a few nightmares about fire, I have so many more about trailer floors failing! (And eternal angst about the cost of replacing them)


My dear old mare would always do a full cleanse of all systems in the trailer even though we were generally hauling about 15-20 min. Rubber mats on an aluminum floor meant that I could just hose it out when we got home. That also meant I could clean the ramp hinge and spring well which helped with upkeep.

Love the carpet cutter idea. Might be a good idea in the vehicle as well in case a seat belt has to be cut.


I keep my trailer well bedded. I buy the thickest cut shavings I can find (the ones that I don’t want in a stall, lol). I pick it after a haul, scrape the rest into a center pile.
I use a fly mask - one with a tight mesh - to help keep dust out of the eyes. I keep windows down, but bars up.
Shavings provide cushion, absorb pee/poo, make it less slippery when it’s raining.

Honestly, until I read on SM about someone’s trailer catching on fire because of a cigarette, it hadn’t even occurred to me. I don’t haul long distance much anymore, let alone the interstate, but still. What a scary, horrid thing.


Gosh, I thought this was just me. I have to mentally remind myself that I look over the floors and come from a family of engineers (who also look over the floors), have a Trailer Guy that checks yearly, that there are SIX cross members, etc, etc… Sometimes I wish I could turn that part of my brain off. :joy:

I don’t bed for short hauls (under 30m) because of the dust, I want to keep windows open for air circulation. I do use a fly mask in the trailer every time. For hour long hauls I usually have a little bedding where their feet go, just enough if they pee it’ll soak it up. I’m not a big bedding fan for respiratory reason[s] but it can be a necessary evil during hauling.


I actually paid to have my floor supports 12 on center instead of 16 because of my irrational fear of floor problems.


Add me to the list of fear of floor failure. On my first trailer I ripped up basically brand new wood flooring because I wanted both sides of the metal supports checked. (They were fine. Also, I was 13. The fear started early).
On my current trailer I crawled underneath to check everything, which the seller thought was really weird.
I don’t panic as much over it now because of cameras. Thank goodness for cameras.


I use mats but no bedding. My trailer dealer told me not to put in bedding because it can get between flooring cracks where it traps moisture and causes rust.

I’m another one who worries about floor failure. Years ago I knew a guy who was hauling a cow a couple hundred miles when the trailer floor failed. He didn’t notice it until he got to his destination. The cows legs went through the floor and dragged along the highway until her feet were amputated. It still sickens me just to think about it.


I would be inclined to skip bedding if my mats didn’t get slick as snot with any moisture. They are ribbed for texture but it doesn’t make a difference- they might as well be fresh ice once manure hits them.

I don’t like the dust factor, especially since it’s have a stock trailer and the wind blows the bedding around quite a bit.

I usually sweep the bedding into a pile on the center of the trailer if it will be sitting awhile to help save the floor. When it gets gross from multiple trips or gets low, then I replace it.


I do not use bedding. I have done so in the past. My concern is dust and small chips from the bedding blowing around and injuring eyes. I have arrived at destinations with corneal injuries. never again if I can prevent it by omitting bedding. I know that I could use bedding and fly mask the horses. I prefer them be able to see clearly while standing in the trailer, because I believe this reduces the risk of spooking and panic. You asked for thoughts and these are mine.


Combo stock trailer with air gaps, wood floor, mats. No bedding, fly masks on the (barefoot) horses. Mat texture is not slippery.

Previously had a different combo stock that I added solar screens to the air gaps all around – made the trailer noticeably cooler, but hay from horses’ hay bags could get caught between the permanently attached screens and the trailer.

Previously had a trailer with screens and drop-downs (and safety bars to keep heads inside), hauled with drop-downs open, screens and bars in place. In our climate, ventilation is super important, protection from cold pretty much a non-issue.

Have had a few other trailers. Had some extra cushioning added under the mats on an earlier trailer, used to be available online, called something like Safe Step; haven’t seen it lately. No longer haul cross country – just mainly locally, most often an hour or less. Tried bedding back in the past, but not worth the hassle and mess and blowing around, IME. Trailer suspensions are better than they were long ago, too.

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We’ve never bedded the trailer with anything more than the dry horse poop left from the prior trip if it hasn’t been cleaned out, like when we go to a trailhead, ride for a week, then come back to the trailer to go home. We have a steel stock trailer with the open slats, mats, wood floor that gets checked often. We’ve logged a lot of miles and horses that way and never had an issue. Shavings would blow around a lot and just be extra mess for us.


I never use bedding in the trailer.
I have a Hawk with a Rumber floor.
My experience is that bedding makes it MORE slippery, in addition to the fact that it is a lot easier to clean out a trailer without bedding.

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I never use bedding in the trailer. A couple of bags of shavings really can’t provide that much cushion for a horse.
I shovel out my trailer every time i use it, and then i pull the mats up from the side each way and hose them out along with the ramp spring and leave the mats rolled to dry. Obviously on a long trip or a camping vacation that doesn’t happen until we get home, but it does happen. Once or twice a year the whole shebang gets pressure washed.
Both my trailers have aluminum floors and every time I take them in for maintenance they comment on the great shape of the floors.

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