Pellets as bedding: Why Olympic rider Minna Telde made the switch

Published 1 June 2018
Minna Telde fell in love with horseback riding when she was four and a half years old. When she was 10, she told her riding teacher that her dream was to ride in the Olympics, and in 2004 that dream became a reality when she competed at the Summer Olympics in Athens.
Minna went on to represent Sweden in a variety of international competitions, and in the dressage competitions at the 2012 Olympics in London as well. Today she lives on a farm in Skåne, in the south of Sweden, where she has a stable that houses her own 12 horses along with a dozen more that belong to her training clients.

“Riding, running a stable – it’s a lifestyle,” she says. “It’s a 365-days-a-year commitment. For horses to be able to compete at a high level, you need to make them love to do it as much as you do. You have to put their needs first. I’m very lucky to have a great staff who help me do just that.”

From straw to pellets

After decades of using straw as horse bedding, in 2017 Minna decided try using Stora Enso pellets instead, after hearing good things about them from some of her riding colleagues. While it’s still considered to be a bit unusual to use pellets as horse bedding in Sweden, Minna says that pellets are fairly common in Dutch stables, for example, since they have a more limited supply of straw there.

Several advantages

“I’ve been using pellets for more than 7 months now, and I’ve discovered that there are several advantages,” Minna explains. “We use much less bedding in the boxes now because with Stora Enso’s pellets it’s easier to clean. There’s less waste, which is great for both the environment and costs. I’ve noticed that the pellets last a long time and stay in place much better than straw or shavings – you don’t get bare spots on the floor in the same way. Even when the horses move around a lot in their stalls, there is much less spread, and much less dust as well.”

“We use much less bedding in the boxes now because with Stora Enso’s pellets it’s easier to clean. There’s less waste."

The practicalities of pellets

Minna says that the only downside to using pellets is that there is some preparation involved before spreading, but that that little bit of extra work is well worth the effort. “We pour out the bag into a wheelbarrow, add water and let the pellets soak for ten minutes or so before we spread them,” she explains. “That’s really the only disadvantage, that extra step, and we actually haven’t found it to be a problem at all.”

It takes about four bags to prepare a stall from scratch, she adds. “Then, depending on how messy the horse is, we add a new bag of pellets to its stall every 3-7 days.”

Minna says that the time lost preparing the pellets for spreading is regained in the twice-daily mucking process, which goes much faster with pellets than it did with straw or shavings because pellets are much more absorbent and easier to scoop up.

The pellets have also been very convenient when travelling with the horses, she says, due to the fact that they take up less space in the truck than shavings do. “We still always keep some straw on hand to use as a complement when necessary, though, like when a horse is sick,” she explains.

In Minna’s view, the best thing about Stora Enso pellets compared to other brands is that the size of the bag is just right. “They are not so heavy and one bag is just the right amount when it’s time to add new pellets to a stall,” she says.

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