Posts Tagged ‘pea gravel’

Hello Cherry,

I recently put up a 36 x36 pen and shelter for my horse.  I live here in Golden Colorado where the soil is VERY much Clay.  We had a several inches of rain this past week, which is a considerable amount for our parts.  The pen got very muddy.  I spent several hours today mucking it and now doing research on what I should do for a better fix.  I saw your article on 3/8 minus pea gravel.  A couple of questions:

1. Some horse friends of mine suggest I use Granite Crusher Fines to aide in the drainage.   Is this suitable?

2. Whether I use Pea Gravel or Granite Crusher Fines, what is the recommended depth of the material I should go with?  2, 3 or 4 inches? 

BTW:  I’m also going to install a french drainage system as well. 

Many Thanks! 


Hi Shawn,

The French Drain is a good idea. Sloping the pens slightly away from the barn is helpful to manage drainage too.

I’m not personally familiar with Granite Crusher Fines but think they might be something like decomposed granite which we use here in northern Colorado.

We use decomposed granite under our stall mats and also under the 3/8- pea gravel in turnout pens.

So my answer would be yes and yes ! A tamped crushed granite base with 2-3 inches of 3/8- pea gravel on top.

Please feel free to post your results here. Thanks ! Cherry Hill

To read more about French Drains, pen footing and much more, refer to these books and DVD.

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I’m new to horses, my 8 year old daughter has always been fascinated with horses and I’ve finally decided to get started. we are visiting some stables now to pick one for her to begin riding lessons before we purchase a horse. I’m currently building a barn and working on the stalls. I was reading in your book, Horsekeeping on Small Acreage, that you used a moving wall to allow you have a larger stall if needed. Could you provide me with some additional information on how you built the wall to move? My stalls are 10′ wide by 12′ deep. It will be the 12′ that needs to move, since I’m only 10′ wide that would be all that could swing to the back wall. Do I leave a 2′ section permanent on the from wall or does it need to hinge back to give the full opening? Just curious how you built yours to help me with my design.

Also had a question about the pen for daily turnout and bad weather, I plan to have approximately 30 x 30 pen at the back of my barn to use for this, the book mentions that this could be graveled. What would be your preference for the gravel type? Are there any con’s to having them turned out on the gravel?

The book has been great, Thanks for your help….Kevin

Hi Kevin,

So glad you found my book helpful ! You sound like you are approaching horse ownership and your daughter’s experience in a logical way. Bravo to that.

First to the swinging stall wall. One of our stalls was set up like yours, with the 12′ side being the swinging side, we left the extra 2 feet as a solid wall. Actually this makes for a nice nook for a water pail or grain bucket. And having a solid wall portion there adds stability for fastening the swinging panel when it is closed to make two stalls. Our 2″ wall portion is on the aisle side and the hinged partition is on the exterior wall side of the barn if that makes sense.

Since you have my book Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage, look on page 108. The short wall where the turquoise bucket is is the 2 foot wall on the aisle side of the stall and if you look over at the right hand side of the photo, you’ll see the 10 foot hinged wall fastened on the back wall of the stall.

There is detailed coverage of the swinging wall construction in our How-To video Your Horse Barn.

Your Horse Barn DVD by Cherry Hill and Richard Klimesh

Then for the pen gravel question, if you look on page 42 there is a photo of a handful of pen gravel which is 3/8- pea gravel. You can read more about it here on my website Horsekeeping. There is also detailed coverage of pen gravel in the 2-DVD set Your Horse Barn mentioned above.

Pea Gravel for Pens

Turnout Pen Gravel

Best of luck with your new venture !


Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage by Cherry Hill



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Horse Management

Pea Gravel for Pens

©  2010 Cherry Hill © Copyright Information

We’ve just had a weekend with over 3 inches of rain (and it is still coming down). For us, that is about 1/5 of our annual rainfall, so that’s a bunch. We are thankful for the great pasture growth that will bring !

When we get so much rain at once, there are puddles all over the place but NOT in our horse’s pens which are located on well drained decomposed granite soil and covered with 3/8 minus round pea gravel. We’ve used pea gravel (pictured above) in our pens for years with great success. That reminded me of a letter I once got from a reader, so I thought this would be a good time to share that letter and my response.

Hi Cherry,

Your Horse Barn DVD by Cherry Hill and Richard KlimeshAfter much research and watching your wonderful DVD on designing a horse barn, I decided to put down 4 inches of 3/8 minus round washed pea gravel in my mare’s paddock area.

It has been excellent footing, however last week my mare went quite lame and the farrier found a tiny piece of the gravel embedded very deep next to her frog towards the heel. My farrier told me afterwards that he thinks the footing is “very dangerous” and it should not be used without several inches of sand on top. My farrier is very good and has been trusted by everyone in the area for 40 years. I keep my mare’s feet picked clean, but this little rock was so deep we couldn’t reach it without digging into the cleft.

I just cannot imagine you recommending anything that was in any way dangerous for horsekeeping so my question is this: In our new facility we are putting in sacrifice paddocks and I had been planning on surfacing them in the same gravel however now I have doubts.

Was this a freak accident? Is pea gravel the best footing or would you recommend something else?

Thank you very much for your time,

Hi Tami,

Pea gravel varies greatly according to locale, I can’t see yours, but 3/8-round pea gravel generally poses no danger for a turnout pen or we wouldn’t recommend it.

This is indeed a freak accident as you suggest as in all the years we have used it, recommended it, we have never heard of such an incident.

Horsekeeping On A Small Acreage by Cherry HillHowever there are many instances of horses (whether they live on pasture, in a sawdust bedded stall or in a pen) getting gravel imbedded in the clefts, white line and other areas of the hoof when the hooves are too soft or when the hoof has a problem like thrush, deep clefts, white line disease etc. My husband, Richard Klimesh, has been a farrier for many years and has much experience with hooves and together we feel hooves that are kept clean and dry are the healthiest and that pea gravel is the best all-weather pen surface for drainage and hoof health.

Sand can be a real danger when used in living areas where horses are fed because of the almost certain ingestion of the sand and the high probability of sand colic. The only time we recommend sand is when a horse has been or is laminitic and the veterinarian suggests it for the horse’s comfort.

Each locale and level of management requires different choices of fences, of footing, bedding and so on. So whether you choose to cover over the pea gravel with sand (which is something I would never do) or use pea gravel or another footing in your sacrifice pen will depend on sub-surface drainage, your style of management, your local weather, the health of your horse’s hooves, and other factors which I could not know.

Horse Hoof Care by Cherry Hill and Richard Klimesh

Horse Hoof Care by Cherry Hill and Richard Klimesh

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