Cattle Guards and Horses
Lately we’ve been receiving a lot of calls for cattle guard quotes from horse owners. 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
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 as they have a more slender hoof and leg than a cow. These physical differences can allow a horse’s hoof to slip between the cattle guard rails. When this happens, they can slide down between the top rails until they reach the bottom of the vaulted area.
This exposes one of the weakest parts of their leg directly to the cattle guard rails itself. This ‘fall’ into the guard can lead to a struggle to free itself. It is an extremely difficult situation and can be very hard to even assist the horse in freeing itself.
The safest and really the only viable alternative to a cattle guard for horses is a 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 that 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!
As a quick point-of-interest, there are concrete cattle guards that are designed to prevent a hoof from sliding down between the top barriers.
The top vertical cross members are rounded concrete that taper together to a distance of 2″ at the bottom. This prevents the hoof from falling through and exposing the leg to breakage.
Advantages Of Concrete Cattle Guard Forms
This style doesn’t require a vaulted area or foundation for support. They are built to sit directly on the ground without an open vaulted area underneath as seen in traditional designs. It’s recommended that they rest on a flat surface such as a bed of gravel to aid in drainage. Draining water away from any site is important for the longevity of any structure.
The other nice thing is that you make them yourself in a re-usable plastic form! This is beneficial in two ways: lower shipping costs than steel and you can make as many as you like. Set them side-by-side to create larger crossings and never have to worry about a hoof sliding through some steel rails!
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 preventing the risk of injury to your horse.
Take a look at some of our Sioux Steel Livestock Gates in the video below and if you’d like a shipping quote to your address, just let us know!
Livestock Gate review:
If you have any questions or if we can help with your cattle guard decisions, please let us know and we’ll be more than happy to help.