Cattle Guards and Horses – a warning from Barn World

Cattle Guards and Horses

Lately we’ve been receiving a lot of calls for cattle guard quotes from horse owners looking to contain their equine. I wanted to give a quick review of why they’re not recommended for use with horses and why a traditional livestock gate is your safest alternative.

Cattle Guards vs. Gates

livestock gate  

 

Dangers of cattle guards

Although cattle guards are very popular and provide the ultimate ease of access to all your pastures, they can also be very dangerous when used with horses. Horses typically have a more slender hoof and leg than cattle and this physical difference can allow a horse’s hoof to slip between the cattle guard rails and slide all the way down to the bottom of the vaulted area. It’s slender hoof can also easily slip off the rail and damage its ‘ankle’.

This exposes one of the weakest parts of their leg directly to the cattle guard rail itself and once in this position, the scared animal’s flight instincts kick in and it will struggle to free itself. During the attempt to flee its precarious position, it can easily break its leg and put its own life in jeopardy. It is an extremely difficult thing to see and and its extremely difficult to even assist the horse in freeing itself.  A horse with its leg stuck in a cattle guard is not something that you ever want to have happen to your equine.

The safest and only viable alternative to a cattle guard for horses is a standard gate. It may be less convenient than driving over a cattle guard, but it is certainly safer than exposing your horse to a possible broken leg.

As a quick side note: There are other hoofed animals they can easily cross the barrier. Goats, sheep and other sure-footed livestock that are very nimble can quickly learn how to get across the curved rails. Of course animals with pads, such as cats and dogs can also learn to tip-toe across the rails and escape to freedom!

Help with cattle guards

If you’re considering using a cattle guard where horses are present, we would suggest that you use a traditional farm gate or livestock gate and realize the inconvenience of operating the gate is well worth offsetting the risk of injury to your horse.

Livestock Gate review:

 

If you have any questions or if we at Barn World Livestock Supplies can help with your cattle guard decisions, please let us know and we’ll be more than happy to help.

 

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