As the Keyboard Clicks...
The Collected Writings of Lori Roets Valone

Originally published in Salt Block Gazette, December 2008 (pages 6-7)

SoftStall: Providing a safe and secure environment for your horse
by Lori Roets

Care, safety, and cost savings – these are cornerstones of the business John Aditajs founded in 1997. Three products - SoftStall, SoftWall and SoftStep – make up this Ontario, Canada-based firm’s line. Environmentally friendly, over 7 million tires are recycled annually to create SoftStall products. SoftStall’s goal is to maximize the comfort of both horse and owner – whether in a stall, standing in an aisle or traversing a pathway. The importance of these fundamental values – care, safety, and cost savings – is evident in the design of each of the SoftStall products.

SoftStall owes its genesis to the dairy industry where it was common knowledge that comfortable cows produced more milk. SoftStall founder and owner John Aditajs, observing the benefits obtained by dairies, reasoned equines would likewise benefit from cushiony comfortable bedding – and SoftStall was born.

Not a rubber mat or foam product, SoftStall is a two layer stall flooring system combining thick recycled rubber-filled mattresses with a durable seamless, nonslip rubber-coated top cover to create the ultimate in therapeutic bedding. Horses, like humans, need good rest and REM sleep to rejuvenate - something which only happens when lying down. “SoftStall invites horses to lie down because it imitates ideal pasture”, says John Aditajs. “Many people don’t realize horses need to lie down to achieve REM sleep”. Vet hospitals and clinics, dairy facilities, even zoos use SoftStall. Tough enough for a rhino to sleep on, you can be assured this is a product that will last. But the benefits don’t extend just to the horses -- SoftStall’s design means shavings are no longer needed for bedding, but simply for moisture control. This means less time and expense due to using only the shavings necessary to do the job. Periodic thorough cleanings become a snap thanks to SoftStall’s seamless cover. Disinfected with ease, just think what a wonderful environment this is for foaling or caring for ill or injured equine.

For those needing a little more protection, the SoftWall product was created. Again utilizing a dual layer system, SoftWall provides a covering for stall and trailer walls capable of absorbing the impact of a 10 pound sledgehammer. Ideal for kickers, horses who caste frequently as well as those prone to falling, SoftWall is used by caring horse owners as well as vets including the North Carolina State and University of Tennessee Veterinary Hospitals.

SoftStep brings the innovation out of the stall and into the aisleways, wash stalls, bridle paths and entryways. With a patented design, these fully interlocking pavers and tiles create a safe, comfortable and visually stimulating environment for humans and equines alike. John Aditajs explains, “SoftStep tiles lock into one another like puzzle pieces, creating a stable, easy to maintain surface, while still maintaining their decorative pattern.” Manufactured using a process that grinds the recycled rubber to a fine flour-like powder, SoftStep is able to create a dense, smooth, easy to sweep surface that remains non-slip, even when wet. An excellent alternative to rubber mats, SoftStep tiles will not shift or curl. “And SoftStep’s R-30 insulation value means your barn will be warmer in cold weather, reducing energy costs and increasing creature comforts,” says John Aditajs. SoftStep tiles absorb energy from the sun through radiant heating. Although a SoftStep surface will not get any hotter than a concrete surface, it will hold the heat up to 40% longer than concrete. Rather than requiring individual tiles to be laid, SoftStep comes in pieces averaging 3 feet square, with some as large as 8 feet by 14 feet. SoftStep thickness varies by style, mostly commonly in the range of ½ to 1 ½ inches. An extensive choice of patterns and colors are available including the popular full interlocking Keystone and I-Mat patterns as well as the individual Churchill rubber brick, these tiles are durable and will stand up to years of use by equines and equipment.

The SoftStall products are used by many of the U.S., Canadian, and British Show jumping team members and is also endorsed by renowned natural horseman Clinton Anderson and installed in his own state-of-the-art facility in Belle Center, Ohio. Additional information about SoftStall, including Clinton Anderson’s “Downunder Horsemanship” interview with John Aditajs and a list of authorized dealers, can be found on the company’s website at