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. 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

A red livestock gate with a locking chain attached cattle guard installed in the road with a truck driving over it


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!

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.

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.



2 thoughts on “Cattle Guards and Horses – a warning from Barn World

  1. I need help deciding on what kind of grid to use to keep animals in and/or prevent animals coming on my property .
    I will eventually have a gate but I need something I can have when my gate needs to stay open for a while
    I like animals so I’m looking for something like a cattle guard to keep animals in , such as Great Dane dogs , a couple of goats , miniature horse , donkey , etc.

    I need to keep out stray dogs and coyotes , etc

    • Unfortunately the cattle guards are only effective with large hoofed animals. Goats are very well adapted to walking and balancing on smaller surfaces even though they have hoofs. Soft-padded feet found on dogs an coyotes allow them to also balance and traverse traditional cattle guards.

      Really the only effective means of keeping the smaller hoofed and soft padded feet out is with a traditional gate.

      Hope that helps!

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