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?
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
Thanks for your time, Rosie
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.
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.
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.