View Full Version : ever a case where it's OK to put horses on drain field?

Jul. 26, 2010, 07:28 PM
I've read its a big no no, so I probably won't ever do it, but it is a real disappointment as the only place I can put my 2 horses on my small rural acreage is on my drain field. My neighbors all live on large acreage quite far from my drain field, below my drain field is a steep drop off down to a country road. I read that putting horses on a drain field can not only screw up your drain field but also contaminate the ground water which is not very nice to the neighbors. Out here we get our water from either live springs (more rare of course) or wells that have to be dug very very deep.

So is it always across the board a no no or are there instances when it might be OK to put just only 2 horses on a drain field? Can you maybe dump a bunch more earth over the drain field so that there is less compression right on top of the actual pipes (compression from animals tromping around on them), or basically is it the case that it makes no difference and it is just always a big no no??

Jul. 26, 2010, 07:55 PM
My old farrier installed his septic system leach field under his main paddocks. There was 4 feet of fill on top of the state of the art plastic drain tunnels, though. Its over 16 years old now and still operating fine despite the horses being turned out on it every day. Not sure if I'd just turn horses out on a leach field that hadn't been specifically designed to take the pressure.

Almost Heaven
Jul. 26, 2010, 10:01 PM
It's OK, IMO, assuming properly designed and loaded field. You should NOT be able to tell where a properly designed field is. If there is any softness or obvious green, keep the horses off.

I've got horses on mine on two different farms, never had an issue.

Jul. 26, 2010, 10:25 PM
How deep is the leach pipe buried? What's your soil like?

In general, the shallower the leach pipe, the more waterlogged the soil, the less sandy/gravely the soil, the more likely you're going to have damage.

That means, if your pipes are fairly deep (3 ft or so) and the ground is firm and dry (mid summer to fall), the odds are in your favor.

Jul. 26, 2010, 10:30 PM
Under these circumstances:

1. You don't care about the drain field and don't mind coughing up $30,000 to replace it.

2. A flood is coming and it's the only high spot on the property ;)

Don't mean to be a smart-mouth, but honestly, I just wouldn't want to ask for that kind of trouble. :no:

Jul. 26, 2010, 10:38 PM
It may depend on the kind of drain field.

At my previous farm, we had horses in the pasture over the drain field for 14 years, and the previous owners had horses on it for another 10 years at least.

Never had any problem.

Jul. 27, 2010, 08:50 AM
When our horses are next door mowing the neighbors' grass, they avoid the grass on the drain field. Go figure. (?)

Jul. 27, 2010, 09:02 AM
Depends on how well it is constructed. In general it only takes about 10 feet of soil to clean contaminated water from sewage or horses, etc. If the surface is well drained and not moist, and the leaching is done deep and wide enough that there isn't a collection of new and contaminated water near the surface, no reaso not to.

If the horses don't want to eat it, then its not constructed well.

Otherwise, its fine.

Also, the horses aren't going to contaminate well water by being in the field, where their manure gets dried and if it gets rained into the soil, it gets cleaned and filtered through soil. If the seware leaching doesn't contaminate neighboring wells, the horses aren't.

If however you have a manure pile on the side of a hill which leaches into nearby water that can be a problem

Jul. 27, 2010, 09:26 AM
I would say it is ok if you have a few horses on enough acreage that they're not having to stand directly on your field line (which is what we call it down here) most of the time.

Where I am now the field line is not in the pasture, but at my old farm, which I still own and lease out, there is about 400-500 feet of field line in about a 200 x 200 area within a 5-acre pasture. I had the septic system installed so know it was done properly for our area - 15 years ago. Horses have been roaming around in that 5 acres for that long and no troubles.

However, if you have that same amount of field line (or leach field) in TWO acres with horses on it - not sure I would recommend that.

Jul. 27, 2010, 09:40 AM
Our 4 horses are on our leach field, but not only on that, it is part of their pasture.
We have their sand pile ON the leach field, approved by the engineer, as per our installer.
Horses have 122 acres, so they only walk on the field, that is buried 4' deep at least to the top of it, so not like they are standing there all day.

Still no problem and I hope will not have one.

Jul. 27, 2010, 09:40 AM
On my small acreage the lateral lines are under a section of turnout for the horses. I do not use that paddack after a rain or during a drought. The key is to keep the grass cover over the field and to not destroy the ground. Our natural soil is nasty black clay.

Jul. 27, 2010, 09:43 AM
My DH installs and repairs septic systems. I wouldn't do it. The stories over the years are enough to freak me right out. :eek:

Jul. 27, 2010, 09:58 AM
My DH installs and repairs septic systems. I wouldn't do it. The stories over the years are enough to freak me right out. :eek:

Do you mind freaking us out by sharing some of your stories?

My leachfield is on a side of a hill that gets quite steep in parts. I have a mini donkey and an alpaca grazing the pasture that contains it. I got them specifically because I thought they could help me mow and wouldn't put a lot of stress on the leachfield. Individually, they weigh less than my lawntractor and I combined.

Jul. 27, 2010, 10:04 AM
I will admit to turning mine out on it. Mind you, they are only on that pasture maybe 4 weeks of the year, and I never ever turn them out on it when it is even remotely wet or if we've had enough moisture to make the ground soft. Usually by mid July in my area everything is hard as a rock, so I feel pretty safe. They don't hesitate to eat it, but it's not like they're standing on top of it the whole time they're out there. It maybe takes up 1/8th of the little pasture and they're pretty easy keepers, so they're only turned out on grass for maybe 9 hours a day.

Jul. 27, 2010, 10:10 AM
What's a drain field?

Jul. 27, 2010, 10:42 AM
What's a drain field?


This explains it better than I could.

OP: when I had my new septic installed 6 years ago I asked the excavator/septic installer about having the leach field running through part of my pastures. In each it crosses a small part at one end.
He told me it should not cause any problems and so far it hasn't.
I have 2 horses on 3ac of pasture so there is not a herd using either pasture at any time.
Contact your local Zoning Commission and Board of Health - they should be able to tell you what's recommended.

Jul. 27, 2010, 12:21 PM
Thanks a lot for your input all.

It was a hard decision not to invest in setting up my own place, but I am actually expanding a shelter/mini-barn up the road by 5 minutes, to move my '2 grey horses' to in time... it's where a couple of neighbors have created a nice set up including the tiny 'barn' and corral, on this huge pasture that is owned by a non-horsey friend/millionaire guy who is very generous to let them (and now me), keep horses there for free. I feel a little weird investing 1k in a property that is not my own, but maybe it would be better to set up my place for having the horses at my place for only a month here and there, esp. in the summer when it doesn't get too wet, as one or two of you do. Plus the other bugaboo I have besides the drain field is that I have a young growth forest on my place, I would have to wrap each and every tree so the horses don't eat the bark and kill them, something they have already done on the millionaire's place but then the trees got wrapped after the first tree death.

Lots of food for thought here. I think I will contact the Zoning Commission etc as suggested above. My pipes are pretty deep, I was here when they were put in, but it gets very wet here in the winter and the horses would be right over them quite a lot. Makes me feel better about my decision to invest in the place down the road which is much more suitable for them, so thanks you guys.

Bank of Dad
Jul. 27, 2010, 11:50 PM
My horses have been on the drain field long before there was internet. We have one long lateral pipe that runs from the concrete tank across the pasture. It was put in about 12 years ago, replacing some sort of old cesspool arrangement. My only worry is wether the old cess pool was filled in and leveled, my memory is shot. I put the horses out there when I am home, never when its wet and muddy. They eat everywhere.

Jul. 28, 2010, 10:38 AM
My horses have been on the drain field long before there was internet. We have one long lateral pipe that runs from the concrete tank across the pasture. It was put in about 12 years ago, replacing some sort of old cesspool arrangement.

Not sure what you are trying to say here, but the (big I)Internet has been around a lot longer than 12 years, (The Internet Engineering Task Force has been around since the mid 80s) and (little i) internets have been around even longer., since the mid 70s.

Tom King
Jul. 28, 2010, 05:56 PM
ever? yes.

If you have to ask, most likely not.