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What am I doing wrong? Stall Savers smell

So, I installed Stall Savers back in the summer. So they’ve only been in about 5-6 months.
I loved the ease of installation, compared to mats.

However, despite tons of testimonials I found online, I think they stink, literally.

Our barn is brand new. We installed them over screenings, over 2" gravel. (I can get specifics but it was done with max drainage in mind)

Its exactly the same as our drylot, which drains beautifully.

So, I started using shavings because that’s whats recommended - because you want the pee to flow through. I found that it didn’t, though. It would sit on the surface and smell. Eventaully it would drain but it would still just sit there.

Then I tried pellets just in the pee areas. That helps. So now I do pellets with shavings.

I still find that it has a funk at times. I was so excited because our barn is new, and pretty, and I would like it to be a place for people to hang out. But with the smell the way it is, I don’t like it.

Any suggestions on how to keep the smell down?

What Ive been doing recently is diluting Simple Green and pouring a small amount over the pee areas. However, I also think that the fact that it doesn’t dry doesn’t help matters.

When we were redoing some stalls that had an uneven base, I pulled the mats and hosed down the screenings underneath, hoping that would make it easier to hack it up and even it out. I had standing water in there for daaaaaaaays, which is probably what’s happening with your stalls, if the smell is bad? Packed screenings don’t really drain. :frowning:

You might be able to improve drainage with some different materials or with a dry well in each stall?

I would think so, but this is 6 months old screenings, and the dry lot isn’t rock hard. I dunno, you could be right, I just can’t imagine that its the case?

If it persists I might pull up the stall savers, rake out the screenings, and put some bigger stone down. I’ll need some more screenings in the dry lot come spring anyway.

If the urine were to drain through the screenings, the odour would persist because there is no clean water to rinse the odour-causing elements away. Barn floor drainage is about moving liquid away, but it cannot neutralize odour. Your best bet is to bed more heavily to catch the urine before it gets to the screenings. I have heard of people setting up stalls that are bedded in pea gravel so they can actually hose them down, washing the urine away. If your barn floors are set up for it, you could test that in a stall or two.


I second PDZ for odor --I have stalls built on a base of gravel topped with 6" of clay then 4-6" of sand. Drainage is great, but in the hot humid days of summer, sometimes I smell pee. When I do I treat wet spots directly with PDZ and smell goes away. Be aware, however, my horses are only in their stalls in the summer --9-3 to get them out of the heat and bugs. So not as big a problem as it might be for a 24/7 operation.

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I have been using PDZ about five years now and it is great for urine odor. The down side is that it can get dusty. It starts out as granules but it gets quickly crushed down to dust underfoot.

So I now just sprinkle PDZ on the wet spots on the rubber mats after mucking and brushing the dry shavings away from the wet spots. Then I let it sit for a few hours to dry, and brush and shovel the used PDZ up before spreading out the shavings again.

This is not as instructed on the bag label, but it works for me.


I have stall skins- similar product as stall savers. I had done gravel floors in my stalls before deciding to do the skins, so I didn’t do the base for skins in the ideal way. I find that the skins can get spongy if I don’t bed well (pellets) rather than letting the urine percolating through. Having said that though, before I brought my horses home my BO added skins to their stalls- they followed instructions to a T with grading the bases towards a sand “pit” in the center. Clean & dry!

Assuming the dry lot is…

Bigger, so urine isn’t concentrated to a small spot
Outside, so rain and snow dilute the urine and wash it away
Graded, so even if pee can’t go down, it can go sideways until away from a non draining base

Stalls are tough, ya know? Horses pretty much pee in the same spot every day. Any drainage ability of the base material is easily overwhelmed unless it’s built specifically to really move fluid.


I have stall savers and have only had odor once, in one stall. I mixed PineSol and water in a watering can and gave the wet spot a sprinkle. Totally took care of it.
I copied this from the Stall Savers website Maintenance:
For harsh ammonia buildup treat area with a disinfectant. e.g. (pinesol and water) poured through the stall liner. There are other products like: Sweet PDZ, Stall Dry, and Zeolite that also work well. Also make sure you use plenty of bedding (6 to 8 inches) to get the maximum life out of your liner.

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My husband and I installed stall savers just over a year ago in our new barn. We have drainage under the stalls in our barn and followed the manufacturer recommendations for the base. They worked great for about the first 6 months. Now they never dry out, I am going through just as much shavings as if I was on regular mats, there are small holes in them, and my barn reeks of ammonia. I question my self daily as to what I am doing wrong. Our horses are bedded heavy, stalls cleaned daily, horses are out as much as possible weather permitting. I have been using the Sweet PDZ since we installed them and it doesn’t even seem to be working at this point. We have power washed the stall savers and it did not make a difference. I am really disappointed. I was really hoping that these would work and our new barn would be smelling good. It seems to be just the opposite.

I have rubber mats on concrete and had a horse who was allergic to pine (humungous welts). He was bedded on about 5-6" of watered pelleted bedding (TSC) without problems. Turns out that the heating process used in manufacture, removes the allergen. Anyway bed was kept slightly moist to keep down dust and pee spots could be worked back in without causing odour. It’s very cost efficient. I currently have two very tidy horses whom I bed in the same manner. It’s not unusual to add only 1 bag of pellets per month.

Is the urine supposed to go through the holes? I can’t imagine why they would work. How are you supposed to get the ammonia smell out?

I have never looked these up, so I will do that now. But what is the (supposed) benefit over tightly fitted mats (where you would ideally have minimal drain through)?

The benefit of the stall savers is that the urine goes through the stall saver into the gravel/drainage below and “goes away”. You have a significant amount of savings in shavings as there is supposed to be much less waste taken out.

I would think anything that lets the urine go thru also lets dust go thru, which likely clogs the holes that lets the urine go thru.

I admit I am confused how this would work long term too. Does installation include a drainage system underneath?

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But you have a pool of urine under the stall every day. It has to start to smell eventually.

I mean, unless you’re supposed to rinse it, which would possibly work with a lot of gravel that will drain? I don’t know, it sounds like it can’t possibly work without smelling like urine.

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We installed our own stall savers. My husband already had drainage ran under all of our new barn. He then followed the instructions provided by the manufacturer for the base.

We are going to pull one of our stall savers out and redo the base the way that my husband wanted to do it in the first place. Once we do this, it will allow for better drainage and enable us to rinse it regularly. Either way, I feel like this product actually created more work than saved time. We still have 2 of our 6 stalls with regular mats. Those mats do not shift at all and do not get holes in them. However, we do go through more shavings in those 2 stalls. I am not near as concerned with the amount of shavings as I am the ammonia smell. Personally, I am leaning towards one large mat that is not permeable, no urine would get trapped underneath, and it would all be removed during cleaning.

I love my stall savers, but I experimented with bedding options and quickly learned that neither pelleted bedding nor shavings worked well with them. Pelleted bedding, in particular, just creates a nasty, smelly swamp. I use straw over them now, and I LOVE it. The straw allows the urine to drain away as designed, rather than retaining it on top of the Stall Savers the way wood products do.

It’s all in the pad construction. The top layer needs to be porous and the base and sides need to be slightly sloped away to allow for the diluted urine to be washed out periodically. I put the wash rack off the back to further assist in neutralizing the ammonia from the urine. I followed this guide when producing our pad and it is working flawlessly. https://extension.psu.edu/horse-stable-flooring-materials-and-drainage

If you’re using a commercial product for urine odor, I have a dirt cheap alternative . White vinegar. I clean wet spots down to the mats and then spray the spots with vinegar. Five minutes later, the urine smell has disappeared. Much easier and lots less expensive. My mats are solid rubber, so the gravel underneath them stays dry except at the seams. I bed with pellets.

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