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Pea Gravel

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  • Pea Gravel

    Does anyone have pea gravel in their stalls? My farrier suggested that we use pea gravel for the stalls, but I'm curious if others have tried this and how it works.


  • #2
    Not exactly a comfy stall floor covering for a horse to lay on.

    I've seen it used for arena and high traffic area footing with good results but when used for bedding, the horses ended up with missing skin on their hocks, elbows and fetlocks.



    • #3
      I asked this once, because my horses have run-in privileges and don't use their stalls except for their feed tubs and for the bathroom (I feed hay in the barn aisle, and have an area at the end of the aisle that I keep bedded in shavings for sleeping). People responded that, unless the drainage in your stalls is excellent, it can get pretty stinky, and also it is difficult to pick manure out of--you end up w/ gravel in your manure pile, which may or may not be an issue, depending on how you dispose of it (I know my garderners wouldn't be thrilled). Now that both of my guys are barefoot, I'm thinking of making a gravel area around my water troughs, so that they have to walk on it but it won't be high-maintenance in terms of cleanup.
      "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

      Spay and neuter. Please.


      • #4
        I have a pea gravel sacrifice paddock that is approximately 4-6 inches of pea gravel over graded limestone.

        Don't know that I'd use it for closely confined horses though - it would be very hard to keep clean enough after the manure is ground into the surface.
        Ainninn House Stud
        Irish Draughts and Connemaras
        Co. Westmeath, Ireland


        • Original Poster

          My biggest concern is the urine. It seems to me that it would smell over time. My husband is planning on using the geo-textile fabric under the pea gravel. Our horses have free access to their stalls from the pasture. I don't know why he would suggest the pea gravel in their stalls. I've seen a few natural boarding barns online that have the pea gravel in their stalls. I need to do more research.


          • #6
            If your horses are barefoot, the pea gravel is of benefit for a couple of reasons. It will form underfoot and support/stimulate the whole foot, rather than just the wall or bars or whatever touches flat ground, without being too soft (for this kind of support) as other common beddings would be. It also has mild abrasive action to exfoliate without abrading too much, helps to maintain the rounded edges of a trim. I have been told that it can be less useful for a shod horse--while it still has the support and abrasive benefits for the sole, the small gravel can get between the sole and shoe and cause issues. Also, if a barefoot horse has wall separation issues (seedy toe or old abscess channels) there is the possibility of smaller gravel particles getting into these spaces and causing issues--I am assuming these things are not issues for your horses if your farrier was the one who suggested this.

            I have also heard that the stinky issues around urine in this kind of flooring can be controled with things like lime or sweet pdz or stall fresh--it is just a simple chemical reaction to control odor and prevent bacterial growth, and these products provide the other ingredients to react with the urine and make the results relatively harmless. So if you are willing to keep up with this, you can have a useful floor in your stalls this way. There's no way to get around maintenance completely, but its different that what is needed with traditional stall bedding.

            One of mine will probably go back to shoes in the spring, or I'd be thinking pretty seriously about this again myself.
            "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

            Spay and neuter. Please.


            • #7
              I would think that gravel of any kind would be a poor choice for a primary surface for keeping horses for the reasons noted. It can be very valuable (and maybe even essential) in high traffic areas (around gates, feeders, watering stations, ec.) where control of mud and/or drainage is an issue.

              Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


              • #8
                It woud be very hard to clean up ground in hay and manure from pea gravel. I have birdseye pea gravel in my arena, and we clean up poops right away there due to it being so hard to keep clean.


                • Original Poster

                  Yes, our horses are barefoot. I originally thought that I would just hose the pea gravel off regularly to clean the urine off, but we have a packed dirt type floor. I have no problems doing regular maintenance, we just have the 2 horses. They rarely spend time in their stalls.


                  • #10
                    If you do a stall in pea gravel, you need to set a base under the gravel on the floor that slopes slightly to the outside of the barn into a french drain so it will drain away from the stall and not pool under it. To clean the urine smell, you just hose it down and the urine goes with the water out the drain.

                    It's actually supposed to be a comfy bed if you use the right gravel. Horses lie in the dirt all the time so I'd not worry overmuch about a lack of comfort unless you have a problem horse like an old one or a very young one.


                    • Original Poster

                      Thanks for all in information. I have a few things to consider now.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Daydream Believer View Post
                        If you do a stall in pea gravel, you need to set a base under the gravel on the floor that slopes slightly to the outside of the barn into a french drain so it will drain away from the stall and not pool under it. To clean the urine smell, you just hose it down and the urine goes with the water out the drain.
                        Now, THAT makes all kinds of sense!

                        It's actually supposed to be a comfy bed if you use the right gravel. Horses lie in the dirt all the time so I'd not worry overmuch about a lack of comfort unless you have a problem horse like an old one or a very young one.
                        I think the issue here is distinguishing between true pea gravel, and pea-sized gravel screened out of crusher run?
                        "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                        Spay and neuter. Please.


                        • #13
                          Cleaning pea (or any type) of gravel will be difficult. If you've got a good base and drainage system then you can use chemicals and water but I suspect you'll find it gets expensive as the volume of water to througly clean a gravel bedded box stall will be sustantial. You won't be able to use a pressure washer, you'll just be able to use flow.

                          Removal of manure will also be problematical, as gravel will adhear to the fecal matter meaning you'll be removing some of the gravel with each pile or have to come up with some sort of "separation" system. This is a problem with sawdust or shavings, but those materials are so cheap the loss of a small amount with each cleaning is a non-issue.

                          Again, I don't see this as a viable stall bedding material over the long haul.

                          Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


                          • #14
                            I have a relatively large sacrifice pasture in which we used pea gravel over a 60' x 40' area. It's really hard to clean manure out of (and boy did my mare decide that the pea gravel was just the BEST place to poop!) and it packed into her hooves really badly the minute we started getting mud. That might not be a big issue for a horse in a stall.....though if they're a fairly messy pooper it might be. I got tired of all of the pea gravel that ended up in my barn and anywhere else my mare walked.
                            Flying F Sport Horses
                            Horses in the NW


                            • Original Poster

                              I'm really glad that you mentioned it packing into your mares hooves. That's one reason why we were considering it because we thought it wouldn't pack that much. I think we are going to skip it in the stalls and just pea gravel the area around the barn to keep that area from becoming a muddy mess during rainy weather.