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