Insulating your Horsebox or Trailer from the Cold

By insulating your horseboxes and trailers with stable mats, you’ll provide your horses with a greater level of comfort during the cold winter months and the sweltering summer heat. As you are out and about, going to horse shows or heading to the track, you want to know that your horses are warm and with enough traction to avoid injuries whilst on the road. Installing stable mats in your horsebox is an incredibly simple process, and can be completed in one weekend. But if you’re still on the fence about adding stable mats to your horsebox, let’s examine the benefits.

Whether it’s rubber or foam, adding stall mats to your horsebox can help reduce bedding costs up to 50%. As well, you can rest assured knowing that your animals have proper traction for greater footing on long drives. Anti-fatigue mats have a significant effect on reducing muscle fatigue, and there is a considerable difference between livestock which has been standing on hard concrete or wood for significant periods of time, and those that have been comfortably standing on stable mats1.

Do you need stable mats for your horsebox or trailers?

There are several reasons to purchase stable mats for your horseboxes or for your lorry. Let’s talk about three main reasons to outfit your horseboxes with stable mats: 1. Providing Comfort for Livestock, 2. Insulating from the Cold, and 3. Protecting Against Floor Corrosion.

  1. Providing Comfort for Livestock

A lot of horse owners are afraid that their horse is going to fall, and horses are more susceptible to slips and trips in a moving horsebox. As you move about on the motorway—shifting lanes and making turns—the horse inside the trailer is feeling the direct result of your movements. Putting a layer of anti-slip mats underneath their feet can actually help for them to stabilise on rough, bumpy roads.

At Stable Mats Ireland, we offer two different mats—foam and rubber. Both foam and rubber mats are available in several types of surface textures. Rubber mats are offered in stud dot and amoebic, both of which provide stability for horses. Stud dot mats protrude out and provide greater traction for horses. Mats with an amoebic surface have a slightly raised texture, giving just enough grip for horses, whilst also being easy to sweep clean. We also offer an EVA foam horse stable mat with a tight knurled pattern, which also helps to prevent against slips and falls.

2.Insulating from the Cold

As the cold winter months approach, there is no better time to insulate your trailer from the frigid temperatures ahead. Insulating a horsebox is a simple do-it-yourself project you can easily accomplish on your own, but can make a significant difference to the lives of your animals.

Let’s talk about heat transfer, and specifically looking at ways to prevent it, keeping all the available heat inside of your horsebox. There are three types of heat transfer: radiation, convection, and conduction2. All three need to be taken into consideration when insulating your horsebox. Radiation is heat that’s transferred through the air, and radiation mostly occurs when sunlight shines through windows and heats the air inside the trailer. Radiation can provide minimal heat in cold winter weather.

Convection is the movement of heat through gases and liquids. Specifically, with gases like air, hot air is less dense and rises, whilst cold air settles. In order to protect against heat loss, patch any holes, and make sure that the roof of the trailer is watertight.

Our biggest enemy in winter weather for heat loss is conduction. Conduction is heat transferred through solid materials, like aluminum and wood. The outside metal sheeting of your trailer is a great conductor of heat, which is a good thing in the winter because the inside heats rather quickly in direct sunlight. But this can also be an issue on a warm summer day because the inside of the trailer can be hot to the touch and can affect the horses. Convection also means that heat from inside the trailer can be easily lost through the metal sides. You can reduce heat loss caused by conduction by insulating the inside of your trailer.

Insulating your horsebox involves placing stall mats on the floor, and covering the walls and the ceiling with insulating material. Whether it’s wood, aluminum, or steel, you’re going to want to have something covering the floor to prevent against heat loss.

3.Protecting Against Corrosion

You want to know that your horsebox will stand the test of time, even after countless uses. But you also want to make sure that your horse trailer is safe for your animals. In July 2011, Horse and Hound magazine reported that a horse fell through a rotten floor of a trailer at Milton Keynes Eventing Centre3. Luckily, because of a foot-to-hock cast, the horse was able to fully recover from their wounds.

In this instance, the trailer had plywood floors, but aluminum floors are also susceptible to corrosion. Without proper cleaning, aluminum floors can fail in just eight years. This becomes incredibly troublesome if you purchased a used trailer4.

A brilliant solution to prevent against moisture and corrosion is to attach the rubber flooring to the aluminum subfloor with moisture-proof caulking or contact cement. This will create a waterproof seal around the mats and prevent against moisture from getting underneath of them. If you choose not to use caulking, and instead just lay the mats on the horsebox floor, you should periodically pull up the mats and clean underneath. Another great tip is to purchase rubber mats which also feature drainage furrows underneath. Place the drainage furrows on the surface, and this makes it easier to sweep away debris and allows for urine and water to drain out easier.

Horsebox Floors and Ramps

As you begin to lay out plans for installing rubber or foam on the floor of your trailer, you need to consider a few things before setting it up. First, rubber mats can be fairly heavy, and even a horsebox floor made with 12 mm mats can add extra weight. Although 12 mm mats are the perfect flooring for your horse trailer, the extra weight should be considered when towing your trailer.

Also, as mentioned above, if you’re choosing to lay down rubber mats without gluing them to the floor, there will be leak paths, places where urine and water can seep through cracks and sit on the trailer floor.

Also, remember that putting rubber mats on the ramp will add a significant amount of weight, so if your ramp opens through a manual pull-down mechanism, you should consider getting springs that are adjusted to the additional weight.

Horsebox Wall Matting

In order to prevent against heat loss, you’re going to need to insulate the walls and the ceiling. There are several options of materials to use to insulate the walls, and these include: EVA foam tiles, rubber mats, or extruded polystyrene rigid foam board (XPS).

EVA foam is probably the cheapest alternative and the easiest to install. Foam bonds to almost any surface through the use of contact cement. However, foam can easily be dented, and can experience tears when kicked. At stable mats Ireland, we have an ultrahigh density EVA foam mat boasting 330 kg/cbm of density. Whilst there may be more durable choices, EVA foam offers a more inexpensive option for insulating your horsebox.

Another material that could be used to insulate the walls and ceiling of the horsebox is rubber mats. Rubber mats are more durable, able to take the abuse of kicks. But they are heavier and this adds another element of f being able to properly glue the panels to the aluminum sides of your trailer. Rubber mats can be cut with either a sharp blade, a jigsaw, or a circular saw, and are relatively easy to install.

The last option is to use XPS foam boards, which are commonly used inside of houses to insulate. Rigid foam boards are relatively durable, and offer the best protection against heat loss, but are the most expensive option.

As you insulate, consider wrapping all exposed metal in your choice of insulator. Avoid leaving exposed metal because it can act as a thermal bridge, causing heat to conduct inside the trailer. If your trailer has ribs, insulate between the metal ribs and then place thermal break on the outside to cover any exposed metal. Also, consider using a moisture barrier and seal seems with aluminum tape.

Conclusion

One simple change can mean a substantial difference in the level of comfort of your horses. By simply adding foam or rubber mats to your horsebox, you’ll be able to prevent against falls, protect against heat loss, and preserve your trailer floor from corrosion. Winterise your horsebox today with stable mats from Stable Mats Ireland.

References

  1. S. Platz, F. Ahrens, J. Bendel, H.H.D. Meyer, M.H. Erhard, “What Happens with Cow Behavior When Replacing Concrete Slatted Floor by Rubber Coating: A Case Study,” Journal of Dairy Science, Volume 91, Issue 3, 2008,Pages 999-1004.
  2. https://www.trailmeister.com/insulating-a-horse-trailer/

2.https://www.horseandhound.co.uk/news/horse-falls-through-flimsy-floor-of-robinsons-trailer-309020

3.https://equispirit.com/info/trailer-talk/horse-trailer-flooring.htm

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