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impact on hooves of pea gravel in corrals

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  • impact on hooves of pea gravel in corrals

    I am investigating putting pea gravel in some or all of the corrals where I feed my horses. Most of these horses are barefoot. The idea that I have heard is that if you do this, it benefits horses hooves and limits the amount of trimming required. The reason this is of interest to me is that one of my horses is a half-Arab, half-qhpaint. He was completely wild when I got him at about six and had never been trimmed. He had lived his life on 450 acres of rocky ground. His hooves were perfect and I really couldn't beliee how nice they were. Since he's come to my place, he requires very frequent trimming- but for six years perfect hooves - not even small crack, angles great. I know that doesn't work for all horses.

    So, what are the ideas of pea gravel for corral footing. Benefits? Detriments? Considerations?


    ETA -mud is not a problem in my corrals.
    Last edited by Coyoteco; Dec. 31, 2012, 01:50 PM.

  • #2
    Very interested to see the responses on this! We've been considering pea gravel for the turnout corral on our barn.
    "No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle" - Winston Churchill

    Check out Central Virginia Horse Rescue


    • #3
      A pea grave . . . where they bury dead peas?


      • Original Poster

        What are you talking about? lol just kidding. I edited it lol
        Thanks for letting me know - I really don't want dead peas hanging around.


        • #5
          I have pea gravel paddocks and they are great for feet. Can't say it affects the frequency of trimming, as mine are shod in front, bare behind and all on a 6 week schedule. All grow excellent hoof and by keeping my paddocks relatively dry, they have healthy feet.

          Not all pea gravel is created equal. When shopping for ours, there was an amazing difference in what one quarry would offer vs. another. What I have are true "pea" shaped rocks, round, small (maybe 3/8" diameter?) and clean (no fines). I have hoof-grid plastic stabilization grid down with the pea gravel about 2" deep on top. Another part of the paddock does not have the hoof-grid but was packed 5/8" minus gravel, then about 2 to 3" of pea gravel on top of that. Don't want the pea gravel too deep as it does not pack like angular rock.

          In the wet area where I am, gravel paddocks are the way to go to keep horses out of the mud.


          • #6
            If you want friction to "sand down" their hooves, perhaps something smaller and more abrasive than pea gravel would work better? what people here call "trail grit", which is basically very fine gravel/ very coarse sand (depending on your perspective). Pea gravel is very smooth, but coarse sand is not.


            • #7
              Pea gravel is good for hooves. It doesn't debride the sole, drains well ... our farrier loves pea gravel. However, in our climate (wet, soggy and wet) any organic matter - manure and hay - quickly turns into nasty mush that's difficult to separate from the pea gravel.

              YMMV, of course.


              • #8
                Originally posted by stryder View Post
                Pea gravel is good for hooves. It doesn't debride the sole, drains well ... our farrier loves pea gravel. However, in our climate (wet, soggy and wet) any organic matter - manure and hay - quickly turns into nasty mush that's difficult to separate from the pea gravel.

                YMMV, of course.
                Well, yes, you do have to keep it clean of hay and manure. Same applies to other types of rock used for paddocks. We do not feed on ours (matted overhang and stalls for that), and maintain them every day, picking up manure and loose hay.
                Last edited by horsepoor; Dec. 31, 2012, 03:46 PM. Reason: Grammar or autocorrect, me or it!


                • #9
                  Originally posted by horsepoor View Post
                  Not all pea gravel is created equal. When shopping for ours, there was an amazing difference in what one quarry would offer vs. another.
                  THIS! In my travels I have found that what is considered pea gravel is hugely variable. If one is not absolutely sure what one wants, you end up buying whatever the local quarry has available. I thought that true pea gravel was river washed, round, pea sized stones. Yet I have seen crushed rock with sharp edges called pea gravel. Round gravel vs sharp edged have a VERY different feel on feet. Round slides around and conforms to the shape of the foot better, and it more comfortable and supportive to horses with sore feet. Sharp edged crushed rock will be far more abrasive and less comfortable.
                  It makes sense that the type you want needs to be matched to its intended purpose. Just be sure of what you want before you start shopping.
                  Are you feeding your horse like a cow? www.safergrass.org


                  • #10
                    Years ago at the International Hoof Care Summit I attended a lecture by KC Lapierre where he share the results of an experiment he did in the UK with conditioning a group of steeple chase horses in a daily controlled exercise program. He usied 3 different hot walkers - One was river stone, one hard pavement, and I believe also one was in water (above the knee) for low impact resistance training. The hypothesis was based on the idea that one could improve performance by stimulating the foot whilst also conditioning the entire horse. The experiment (according to reports) delivered great results. And if my clients were all so wealthy that they could afford to implement such conditioning program I would not hesitate to recommend it because it makes a lot of sense, but also costs a lot of dollars.

                    Now sometime later I began seeing a lot of references from the BUAistas to putting pea gravel in paddocks - which is not something that KC did in his experiment, but I'm pretty sure that this is where the rumor got started - somebody heard something and passed it on without checking the facts.

                    Regarding the benefits of pea gravel (which is a supposition with no published data or controlled experiments to back it up) The pea gravel idea it is a fad that has been passed around by sheeple that have no real hoof care education field experience. There is a big difference between daily controlled exercise in a hot walker on "river stone" - smooth rocks the size of golf balls and slightly larger vs. filling paddocks with pea gravel (which is the size of peas) and leaving horses turned out on it 24x7.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Tom Bloomer View Post
                      Regarding the benefits of pea gravel (which is a supposition with no published data or controlled experiments to back it up)

                      No published data, but empirical evidence is provided by horses. If you put a pile of small round pea gravel in one spot, some horses prefer to stand on it or lay on it. Lots of folks have seen this. That tells me some of them like the way it feels. I have personally seen HUGE improvements in stride length on horses with laminitis when walking over washed masonry sand.
                      Are you feeding your horse like a cow? www.safergrass.org


                      • #12
                        I had good results with founderd horses turned out on really dirty sand that was never washed as long as it was soft and deep. My pasture has several "rolling spots" that are deep sand where my horse roll and self groom on a daily basis.

                        It would certainly cost a lot less to dump a pile of pea gravel in one spot and let the horses chose what to do with it as opposed to covering an entire paddock with it and leaving them no choice.


                        • #13
                          I wouldn't cover entire paddocks with any kind of gravel, especially if you don't have a mud problem.

                          The turnouts where my mare is boarded have gravel (not pea...larger) on the lanes to/from the pastures and paddocks, and around gate areas. We get muddy around here, depending on the season. The gravel does help with the mud, and may help with hooves...I have no idea. My mare is barefoot in back and doesn't chip or crack, but whether that is due to her hooves, proper maintenance, or gravel...?

                          If you want to try the gravel, I'd put it in a small area, perhaps around the gate, and let the horse decide if he wants to walk on it or not. He'd have to go over it a bit everyday just to get in and out.
                          *OMGiH I Loff my Mare* and *My Saddlebred Can Do Anything Your Horse Can Do*


                          • Original Poster

                            I appreciate responses.
                            I will disagree with the putting of fondered horses on sand, though, just to make sure people who consider that explore it thoroughly before they do it. I had a foundered mare and sought treatment ideas from many places. CSU said some extreme boot of the day or putting her on sand. The boot is no longer available and was extremely high heeled ...but anyway I didn't use that - possibliy it was the first Redden Boot. (I talked with Dr. Redden, too.). Anyway following CSU's advice I put her on sand. It really did her a lot of harm. I was also in contact with the late noted farrier Burney Chapman. I told him about the sand and he asked if it hadn't almost killer her, and I said that it had. He said the pressure on the sole inhibited the circulation and cause a lot of damage. Evidently it did. He had some articles on that at the time.
                            Anyway, be very careful with sand for foundered horses. I've heard that it helped some, but I saw what it did to my mare and have heard that was not an unusual thing to have happen.
                            Sorry to digress from the thread, but that's something I comment on when the idea comes up - a different experience and observation.

                            I just have a series of small individual corrals - pens really (16 x 30) where the horses eat their "feed" and I look over them groom them, whatever while they eat or when they have finished. This opens into a larger corral (quarter acre) that has a loafing shed. This is grassy and is where I normally feed their hay. They aren't usually fastened in their individual pens more than 15 to 30 minutes a day. I just wondered if the gravel - and it's probably true that I would be thinking of sharper gravel rather than rounded pea gravel - might keep the gelding's (and other barefoot horses) feet good between trims or have other benefits. It's not a wet place and it doesn't get muddie as the base there is pretty firm. I don't mind trimming often, but the very nice hooves that he had even though he had never been trimmed was pretty impressive to me. I have soft irrigated land and it's just not the same as that rough terrain where he was raised.

                            It sounds like it's not something worth pursuing.

                            Thanks for the help.


                            • #15
                              Deep sand only works on horses with mild cases of founder that also have very thick soles. Like every other founder treatment, all of them work on some horses some of the time, and none of them work on all horses all of the time.

                              In the natural setting like the arid abrasive plains where horses evolved, feet are self maintaining. And those horses with feet that don't hold up in such terrain are naturally culled from the herd.


                              • #16
                                I personally have found it to be unnecessary and actually a bad idea in more cases than not.

                                My horses are not on gravel (except in small paddocks when it is just too slippery elsewhere).

                                Otherwise they are in a 'dry lot' of about 2 acres with normal packed Georgia red clay.

                                It is monitoring correct exercise (a whole lot more than you might realize) and diet the influences the issue far more than adding gravel.

                                If any of you horses are even slightly thin soled it will be a huge mistake. Huge.


                                • #17
                                  The smooth, small pea-sized rocks used for quick drainage in horse paddocks don't seem to stay in place well, plus get pushed down into the dirt when it is wet outside, unless you use the geotextile fabric to keep them apart.

                                  Pure pea sized gravel gets into hooves and tracked all over during wet seasons. I wouldn't use it for my paddocks. I would rather use a harsher type gravel mix of sand, larger size rocks or some kind of 1-2" limestone, packed stonedust over geotextile fabric, as a dry place, non-mud, to eat off of or stand around on. No pea gravel size smooth rocks around here. They can be a hazard to walk on where you clean hooves in the aisle, like marbles, before you get them cleaned up!

                                  I may shoe my horses, but it is for traction in our uses of them. Barefoot just doesn't do it for driving on ice, or doing conditioning miles down the paved and gravel roads. I am a firm believer though of letting rough ground work its magic on any barefoot horse, keep the edges smoothed off, like our young animals on pasture. Horse would still be getting normal Farrier attention every 6 weeks. I think the more they play on the rough ground, the better hoof circulation they get, good hoof growth, the better their hooves will be. However ANY kind of soreness, limping WOULD get shod to let horse go pain-free. No one here who has to endure that, moving from shoes to barefoot, "toughening up" to go bare.

                                  We do choose horses to use who have GREAT feet, as individuals and in their breeding, so they can stand up to the work we ask of them. Feet are in good proportion to the body they carry, no teeny hooves.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Yeah, Tom, I was thinking that the cases where the sand was successful might be the moderate cases. Every case is different, but that is the reason I bring up the potential downside of sand, because I really don't ever see it expressed.

                                    As for the gravel, I'll just forget that idea. LMH All of my horses seem to very good soles, even the ottb. I have an old AQHA mare whose hooves grow very slowly, though, and it would not have ever been a good idea for her.

                                    Thanks everyone for helping me think through this idea. It had been something I considered for awhile.


                                    • #19
                                      I have what is called M-10 in one of my paddocks. It works well for drainage and mud.

                                      You may want to look into that. It packs down nicely and does not create tender feet.

                                      I would not go to the expense though unless you are looking for drainage solutions.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Thanks Goodhors. Yoiur policy seems very sound.