Eugene and Nilla got fresh sand added to their paddocks this week. East coasters will find this as baffling as the whole no turnout thing, but a lot of the paddock barns in our area don’t do shavings. Some barns use shavings, though it’s often at an extra charge. There’s a lot more variety in this so I’m not saying it’s a hard and fast rule out here, but It’s not like the East Coast where every barn has shavings. The really expensive barns in this area that keep horses fully inside do use shavings. But most of the barns aren’t like that.
Most stalls are matted and the paddocks are dirt. At the barns I’ve been to and looked at in this area, the paddocks are usually set up by the boarder. Because of this, individual paddocks can be very unique. I’ve seen some that just have roofs, some where people have built sheds or barns for stalls, some people get clever with used stuff like old bathtubs for feed troughs instead of buying expensive plastic tubs. Most paddocks here are either dirt or gravel. Boarders can add their own gravel if they chose to.
I know the East Coaster in me was appalled when I first arrived here and was told our horses would be living on rubber mats and gravel. But it works out really well. Their hooves are dry and almost never get any thrush. It’s actually a great footing for barefoot horses. Every fall we add new gravel and that gets us through the rainy season.
When we first brought Eugene home, he was a bit skinny. Not in the way of a starved horse, but there was a hint of ribs and his hip points were rather sharp. We worked hard getting his weight up (lots of supplements, extra hay, rice bran, etc) and he’s now in much better shape. While Nilla and Shasta never had a problem laying in their gravel (they’re fatties), Eugene was getting scrapes and sores on his hips.
To keep him from wearing holes in his skin, my barn owner picked up some sand for his paddock. And Nilla was insanely jealous. I really wish I’d though to get some video of this, but she would stand at the fence between their paddocks and paw. She’d also try to roll as close to the fence as possible where some of the sand had drifted over.
I don’t generally like putting sand in their stalls. It’s a lot more expensive and there’s a risk of sand colic. Even though they get fed in their stalls in hay nets, I see them eating enough leaves in their paddocks to know their ingesting some. But the mule was just so jealous so we got her some sand too. And she absolutely loved it. Nilla’s favorite activities are eating, rolling, and lying around. I’ve been asked if she’s colicing because she spend so much tie lying down at shows and clinics. She particularly loves to eat while lying down if possible.
Our original batch of sand wasn’t very deep, but the batch that got put in this last week is nice and deep and Nilla is so happy.
She’s so freakin’ cute. I’m curious: what kind of footing do your horses have? Sand, gravel, shavings, pasture, straw?