Council regulations stipulate that you cannot lay a concrete or permanent base to use with your field shelter, regardless of whether it features skids, unless you apply for planning permission first. If you own a mobile field shelter, however, it can be a good idea to lay down some stable flooring of some kind. If you experience particularly wet weather, the inside of a shelter can get unpleasant rather quickly, especially if drainage around the area is poor. This makes mucking out harder and a rather mushy, unpleasant, ground for your animals to bed down on. Here we list some of the popular flooring options available for mobile field shelters to keep the inside of the structures clean and easy to manage.
Wood chip is a cost effective way to stabilise and dry out the floor where your mobile field shelter will reside. It can be bought in large quantities for relatively little money and just needs sprinkling over the earth beneath. You can then compress it yourself or leave it to harden over time with general day to day use. It serves as a decent natural under layer for your animals to bed down on.
However, if it rains substantially and the ground underneath is unstable, wood chip can become a slight problem. By its very nature, wood absorbs water and over time will become more and more unstable as it gradually sinks into the earth. This requires you to regularly add more chipping to the pile which can become a bit of a chore.
An alternative to wood chip is to lay down road planing/scalpings that you can easily source from a local road works firm. These tarmac chips can be spread out over various areas in your field where you plan to rotate your shelter and make a good, non-muddy, surface. Make sure you lay down about six inches or so to allow for some sinkage, but leave yourself with some elevation that helps keep the area dry.
Road planing will provide you with a nice stable base layer that you can then cover with wood chip or stable mats for a softer bedding layer. They also work really well around gateways where water drains to and can poach the ground.
Grass mats are rubber honeycomb textured base sheets that you can lay down as an optional under layer. The design of the mats is such that grass is able to grow up through the honeycomb holes and the mat then becomes unnoticeable. The material they are made from is weather and temperature resistant which make it safe for the environment and a really good, maintenance-free, way to protect the ground and grass underneath.
However, to prevent the mats from flipping up at the sides, you will need to ground secure them, which can be difficult if drainage around the area is poor. Another problem is that the the flexibility of the grass mat material doesn’t really create an even base layer as the mats tend to follow the contour of the ground beneath. A much better option would be to lay down some road planing first before putting the grass mats on top as a softer top layer ready for bedding.
Perhaps the most popular flooring material used by horse owners for mobile field shelters is specialist stable matting. Made from various rubber/foam compound materials, stable matts provide a permanently soft and insulated stable floor that you can lay either directly onto the earth beneath or on top of wood chip/road planings. Due to their soft texture, you can provide your horses with a comfortable ground layer that will require less bedding compared to coarser materials.
Stable mats are also much easier to clean and muck out with but it might be an idea to lay down some rubber edging to the bottom of your shelter to keep the draught out and the bedding inside. Also, if bedding creeps underneath the matting, the floor can get quite lumpy and bumpy, however, it is rarely significant enough to disrupt most horse’s comfort.