Poll Recap: Smelly Stalls

Of the 802 respondents, 170 (21%) said they use a stall freshener or deodorizer on an "as-needed basis" or when they smell ammonia and odors.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

When you walk into your barn or your horse’s run-in shelter and take a deep breath, what do you smell? Fresh air, pine shavings, and the horse aroma? Or is the air tainted with the smell of ammonia?

Ammonia can build up areas where horses are stalled frequently, whether it be due to stall rest, bad weather, or other circumstances. In last week’s online poll, we asked our readers when they use a stall freshener or deodorizer. More than 800 people responded, and we’ve tallied the results!

Of the 802 respondents, 170 (21%) said they use a stall freshener or deodorizer on an “as-needed basis,” while 135 individuals (17%) said they use a freshener daily as part of their stall cleaning routine. Another 79 respondents (10%) said they use a stall freshener or deodorizer regularly, about one to three times per week. Some 41 people (5%) said they use a stall freshener or deodorizer on a monthly basis or when they strip their horses’ stalls, and 13 respondents (2%) said they use it on a seasonal basis. The remaining 364 respondents (45%) said they seldom or never use a stall freshener or deodorizer.

Additionally, more than 80 people commented about their responses: 

Some people described when they use a stall freshener or deodorizer:

  • “In Arizona summers, my gelding drinks large amounts of water and urinates heavily. I strip and deodorize his stall frequently.”
  • “I use Sweet PDZ a minimum of weekly, more often if the stalls are really wet.”
  • “I use freshener two to three times a day as my horses have free access to the barn. I love my fresh smelling barn.”
  • “If my horse is on stall rest, I use a freshener more frequently. Otherwise, once a week or so.”
  • “I use it when I strip stalls and in between when I can smell odors.”
  • “My stalls are cleaned every day. I use freshener only if the stall is too wet. Wood shaving soak up the urine.”
  • “Generally, my horse hates to pee in his stall, so I use a freshening product on his spot outside.”
  • “My horse doesn't like the smell, so I am careful when I use it.”
  • “I only use it when I have a horse who pees in the stall. Most of mine go outside and have a pile of shavings.”

Several people shared what type of product they use:

  • “I found sodium bicarbonate to work best for me.”
  • “I use Sweet PDZ.”
  • “I put granulated lime beneath the bedding.”
  • “Baking soda bought in bulk works great, and it's not toxic to horses' lungs.”
  • “I use Dry Den with Zeolites over mats. It's highly absorbent and neutralizes ammonia.”
  • “My horses are not stalled on a regular basis, so lime on wet spots does the trick.”
  • “I use Stall Fresh, which works great! My farrier says it smells like Christmas!”
  • “I use Sweet PDZ as needed in my run-in shelter. The horses free to be out 24/7/365.”
  • “I use Sweet PDZ when I have it. Great stuff!”
  • “There is a freshener in the bedding pellets I use.”

A few individuals commented that they rarely or never use a stall freshener or deodorizer:

  • “I haven't needed to. So far, I've had no foul odors.”
  • “I don't need it. My stalls are kept clean.”
  • “Never. My horses are only brought in for bad weather, stalls are rarely used-better for them.”
  • “I seldom have horses in stalls, and the stalls I have are well-ventilated, so there's little need.”
  • “I don't need it if stalls are cleaned properly, mats are allowed to air out, and there's enough bedding.”

Some people commented on their stall/shelter cleaning practices:

  • “My large run-in is deeply bedded in pine shavings and cleaned twice daily.”
  • “My stalls have drains and we use straw, so there are no smells, and we flush the system regularly.”
  • “I just keep my stall clean ... but I have only one horse so it is pretty easy!”
  • “I just clean my stall every day, remove dirty bedding, let it air dry, and then add fresh bedding.”
  • “I clean my stalls thoroughly at least once a day, and we also clean under mats.”
  • “When urine is present, I sweep it up and leave the area to dry before adding more bedding.”

Others commented that their horses were not housed in stalls:

  • “My horses have open shelters and pasture.”
  • “My horses are outside 24/7/365.”
  • “My horses are outside with shelters.”
  • “My guys are out on pasture, no stalls.”
  • “I only stall a horse if one is hurt and the vet wants them up.”
  • “My horses live in three-sided run-in sheds.”
  • “My horses are housed in stalls with runs open 24/7. Both pee outside in their runs not in stalls.”
  • “My horse uses the walkout attached to his stall, and uses the stall only in bad weather. I use shavings and clean two to three times."

And some respondents left general comments:

  • “I use paper bedding which is super absorbent, no odors!”
  • “We board and the staff are very consistent with keeping the stall clean and odor-free.”
  • “Its use depends largely upon what is used for bedding. Straw will not absorb to the extent of shavings.”
  • “Our barn never smells, even with 28 horses. Keeping it clean and not skimping on shavings is the key.”
  • “Keeping the barn clean and open to air flow keeps the smell from concentrating.”

You can find additional information about how ammonia impacts your horse, the importance of air movement in horse barns, and how you can protect your horse’s breathing zone and respiratory health at TheHorse.com!

This week, we want to know: Do you have a foal due this spring? If so, tell us about it! Vote now and comment at TheHorse.com/polls!

The results of our weekly polls are published in The Horse Health e-Newsletter, which offers news on diseases, veterinary research, health events, and in-depth articles on common equine health conditions and what you can do to recognize, avoid, or treat them. Sign up for our e-newsletters on our homepage and look for a new poll on TheHorse.com.

About the Author

Jennifer Whittle, TheHorse.com Web Producer

Jennifer Whittle, TheHorse.com Web Producer, is a lifelong horse owner who competes with her Appaloosas in Western performance events. She is a University of Kentucky graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in Community Communications and Leadership Development, and master's degree in Career, Technical, and Leadership Education. She currently lives on a small farm in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.

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