Horse Training, Horse Care, and Riding Books and Videos from Cherry Hill at www.horsekeeping.com

Your Horse Barn
DVD
Maximum Hoof
Power
Horse Hoof Care
Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping Almanac
Your Horse Barn DVD
Horse Housing
Your Horse Barn DVD
Horsekeeping On A Small Acreage
Horse For Sale by Cherry Hill

Home | BooksArticles | Shopping | View Cart | Contact | Site Map | Search

Horse Training, Horse Care, and Riding Books and Videos from Cherry Hill at www.horsekeeping.comHorse Training, Horse Care, and Riding Books and Videos from Cherry Hill at www.horsekeeping.com   Horse Training, Horse Care, and Riding Books and Videos from Cherry Hill at www.horsekeeping.com  

Horse Training, Horse Care, and Riding Books and Videos from Cherry Hill at www.horsekeeping.com

April 11, 2008

Gravel for Pasture?

  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

Hi Cherry,

I have a young, untrained horse who just needs more room to run. I have an acre of horse pasture with a nice water source, however the man who used to rent it from us laid gravel down, covering the pasture. I intend to use this for my mare, however I have heard too many conflicting answers from vets, farriers, and horse trainers. So would it be okay for my mare if she were turned out to this pasture, or would it be a bad thing considering the gravel?

My vet and farrier said that it wouldn't hurt her as long as her hooves were kept clean, and that it would actually be a good thing for footing, however my trainer disagrees, so i'm left confused and frustrated. Please help by giving me a straight forward answer.

Thanks for your time, Rosie

 

Hi Tami,

Horse For Sale by Cherry HillIt is good that you are concerned for your horse's hoof health. As to whether or not the gravel in the pasture would be good or bad, that would depend on the type of gravel and how it covers the pasture. There are pros and cons to gravel in turnout areas so it would be impossible for me to give you a yes or no answer, but I will try to provide you with some points to help you make an informed evaluation of your gravel paddock.

If the gravel is rounded and rather small, such as what is referred to as pea gravel or 3/8- (you'd say "3/8 minus" which means the gravel is 3/8 inch or smaller), then the gravel would be good in many ways. It would likely have good drainage so less mud and that's a good thing. This type of gravel is small and smooth enough not to cause hoof chips, and if deep enough, even OK for a horse to roll or lay in. However, if this gravel was either a thin layer on a hard surface or very deep, it could be an unstable footing for active exercise and could lead to slips, trips, falls and sprains. Another downside of this type of gravel is that it can lodge in the clefts of the hoof and even work its way into the white line IF the hooves are wet and soft. But, if you keep the horse's hooves clean and dry and pick them out daily, pea gravel should pose no problem. It is what we use in our turnout pens here at our place and have never had a problem with it.

Horsekeeping On A Small AcreageIf the gravel you have in your pasture is large or sharp-edged, like is used on many driveways, there might be a problem with it. Very large gravel or gravel mixed with some large rocks in it can cause sole bruising if the horse trot or lopes and lands with full impact on the large rough stones. If the edges of the gravel pieces are very sharp, they could cause chips in the edges of the hooves, leading to breakage and subsequent hoof imbalance problems. Also with large or rough gravel, the footing is not as secure so a horse would not tend to exercise as much as on native soil or grassy pasture. Finally, large or rough gravel is not as good for the horse to lay down in or roll on and could cause cuts on the hocks or knees as the horse lays down and gets up.

So, now, armed with those thoughts, go out and evaluate the gravel in your paddock in terms of size, stability, sharpness or roundness and depth. The ideal turnout area for a horse is well-drained native grass pasture or paddock which provides superior traction, cushion and comfort for a horse. However, a certain amount of the right type of gravel could also work well in a turnout area.

Best of luck,

    Ask Cherry Hill

      2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

    Home | BooksArticles | Shopping | View Cart | Contact | Site Map | Search

    The information contained on this site is provided for general informational and educational purposes only.
    The suggestions and guidelines should not be used as the sole answer for a visitor's specific needs.