You just have to do it yourself.
It was raining last night, which meant an indoor ride on a Tuesday with the hunter/jumper training group and a few other riders mixed in. Ashke was a doll, although Cali was a spaz. We did circles at the walk and trot while Cali did her impression of a Lippizzan. It was pretty impressive, although N didn't really think so. Once on, Cali was great for N and they did the W/T/C thing. Ashke and did canter in both directions and he is beginning to feel so much better to the right, but my back was so sore from shoveling rocks that I couldn't move with him. We did one circuit in each direction and I was done. He did turn on the forehand and the haunches in both directions very smoothly. We are beginning to get on the same page with that particular movement.
We vacated early.
Ashke was bedded down in the stall with carrots and apples, his door open to the little bit of rain we were getting. He was the only horse outside when I checked on him a bit later. Silly boy.
When N put Cali away she went to pick her stall and discovered a huge pool of urine in the same place as the last few times. N was furious. We are already having issues with sore feet due to the increased and unrelenting rain we have been having, standing on wet shavings is going to be even worse for her feet. I told N that I really thought there had to be something wrong for it to be consistently that wet. We moved all of the shavings away and realized the mat had two very large holes in it. The urine was running under the mat, and I'm still not convinced there isn't a leaking pipe somewhere down there as well.
We pulled the mat out, which was absolutely the most disgusting thing I have done in a while. It was covered in black mud made of rotting shavings, dirt and urine. And wet mats are very heavy. Both N and I were covered in horse pee by the time we wrestled it out of the stall. Then we went back in to inspect the hole. There was about an inch of urine (or possibly water mixed with urine) in a shallow hole under the mat. The ground was very wet and squishy. The hole was a couple of inches deeper than the surrounding ground (think shallow bowl shape). N and I went out and filled a muck bucket about a third full of peat gravel and brought it in to dump in the hole. That evened out the hole, and provided drainage. Then we went down to an empty stall and stole a mat from there.
That was just the beginning. We pulled all the mats, replacing one more, and evened the floor underneath, before reseating the mats. The underside of all of Cali's stall was damp, which makes me think perhaps there is a leak there, or maybe that's just a product of stalls and the reason why we use stall mats. Once the ground was level, we were able to lay the mats so that the edges were even and there was no lip to catch a hoof on. Then we refilled the shavings so she was bedded down well. I was very pleased with the finished product and Cali seemed pretty happy too. I know N was happy.
A couple of things to take away. 1) Stall mats are heavy and gross when wet. We used an old lead rope I can't use on Ashke any more, because it is frayed, to fold the mat over and drag it down the aisle of the barn. So much easier than trying to carry them with our hands. And it kept some of the gross stuff off our hands. 2) Next time we will take the time to get a good shovel from N's house to do the leveling. The barn shovel has a bent edge, shaped like an inverted V, which makes it impossible to get a straight edge on anthing. Or pick anything up. It was pretty frustrating. 3) I didn't mind doing the maintenance on the stall, although it was a bit frustrating that NO ONE on the staff thought about pulling the mat to see why it was so wet. Is it just me, or is it reasonable to expect the horses to be housed on material that can be maintained and kept dry?