PROS: highly ab­sorbent; low palata­bil­ity for horses CONS: ex­pen­sive; dif­fi­cult to find in the nec­es­sary quan­ti­ties

EQUUS - - Tack& Gear -

You might be more fa­mil­iar with it in a gar­den­ing set­ting, but peat moss---the dead, fi­brous ma­te­rial that forms when mosses de­com­pose in bogs---is also some­times used as bed­ding for horses. There are def­i­nitely ad­van­tages to it: A lit­tle goes a long way, it’s ex­tremely ab­sorbent and horses gen­er­ally won’t eat it. Peat moss is hard to find in many ar­eas, how­ever, and can be very ex­pen­sive. “You may only be able to get it at a gar­den cen­ter,” says Nadeau.

The only time Nielsen has used peat moss as a bed­ding was for a re­search project: “The ad­van­tages in­clude good ab­sorp­tion, and it’s soft and com­fort­able for the horse. Draw­backs are avail­abil­ity and cost and the fact it’s dark-col­ored. The horse may get dirty. It all de­pends on your pri­or­i­ties. If you want

the stalls to look clean, peat moss would not be your first choice. It’s also harder to sort through and clean be­cause it’s hard to tell the fe­ces from the peat moss. If it’s your own horse and you are not wor­ried about looks, it might be fine, ex­cept for the cost.”

The har­vest­ing of peat moss is also some­what con­tro­ver­sial. Ex­trac­tion of peat re­quires re­mov­ing of the liv­ing sur­face of a bog, lay­ers that can take decades to de­velop. Crit­ics say the process also re­leases large amount of car­bon diox­ide into the at­mos­phere, con­tribut­ing to global warm­ing. For these rea­sons, en­vi­ron­men­tal agen­cies in Britain are work­ing to phase out the use of peat moss for all gar­den­ing by 2030.

Although sand is not widely used as a bed­ding ma­te­rial, in ar­eas where it is abun­dant some horse­keep­ers make it work.


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