View Full Version : How much mud is too much?

Mar. 29, 2011, 04:39 PM
The mud at my farm has gotten to an all time high. It's absolutely disgusting in my opinion. Ankle deep (or slightly higher), wet, sloppy, boot sucking mud. The horses aren't very happy about being out in it, and I'm getting tired of hosing off feet every night. I've turned one of my pastures into a "sort of" sacrifice lot, but I'd like to have some hope of getting grass to grow there later on this year, so I'm limiting their turnout in there to a few hours a day. The rest of the time my boys are in a paddock (80x140ish) with free choice hay. Turnout time right now is from 8 am to 7 pm, and the horses are always happy when they go in. They don't like the mud at all. I'm just wondering if everyone else is dealing with this crap too. This is my first spring as a real farm owner, and I'm mainly just worrying I'm doing something wrong. :confused:
My plan this summer is to put footing into the paddock to act as a dry lot so I won't have to worry about this mess next year, but for now I'm dealing with mud.
So am I doing something wrong?

Mar. 29, 2011, 05:37 PM
Up here on the North Coast we are still frozen. We had 2 feet over the average snowfall this winter. Your plan for mud avoidance sounds good. Beyond that, what can we do....:no:....once everything thaws I will be dealing with the same thing. You're not doing anything wrong. It's just one of those things.....

Mar. 29, 2011, 07:50 PM
if you're only worried about ankle-deep mud in the paddock you don't have enough mud- can I send you some? my car is coated with mud (inside and out), my boot got sucked off in the mud, resulting in a hilarious (to others) little event, and I have returned from outings with mud in my hair, among many other locations.

Mar. 29, 2011, 08:11 PM
Years ago I remember having a conversation about mud, which in CA meant thick clay pottery type stuff that would NOT dry up once created or would dry into the craters of the moon. The thing was to keep the horses out until the ground had a chance to dry, before they made mud at all. We didn't even think of putting in a base and good draining footing back then, which is really the way to go and it seems to be on your to-do list as well. So you are just traveling along the learning curve with the rest of us.

Mar. 29, 2011, 10:09 PM
Its not you, its spring.

Add to it the pounds of manure that get squished into it and downright impossible to remove, and you've got a sesspool (sp).

We joke that the horses smell like 'pond'.

Every spring, I feel like a horrible horse owner when they are roaming around through the mud.

My problem is that I can't turn them out on the newly delicate, growing spring grass, so they are secluded to the dry (mud) lot until the constant rain goes away and the pastures dry up and grow a little more. So they've been on dry lot all winter, to save the grass.

Then, summer comes, all the gross winter coat is gone, all the mud is gone, and the horses are pretty again! :)

Mar. 30, 2011, 01:20 AM
What y'all need is a gravel sacrifice lot - that's the way we do it here in the PNW... :)


Mar. 30, 2011, 02:06 AM
What size gravel do you use and what is underneath it? After the super wet march we had here, I am looking for improvements I can do to make next year better. I think at this point my 3 arabs are voting to go back to the SoCal desert.

Mar. 30, 2011, 02:27 AM
We used 5/8 minus gravel (though I might have preferred 3/8 minus if it was easier to find). We had a good solid hard-pan base underneath so all the hubby did was dig out the loose dirt/grass and then lay in 6" of gravel. Then we compacted it with a plate compactor and the horses and rain did the rest.

If you've got soft ground you'll likely want to put down landscape fabric and then perhaps a base layer of bigger rocks and then the top finish layer.

Horses with good feet (like the chestnut) are okay on ours barefoot as the gravel still has give to it. That silly paint in the photo has seriously crappy feet (thin walls / soles) and he was okay bare in the front but needed hind shoes all winter. I'm hoping with proper preparation he can go barefoot on it next winter.

Mar. 30, 2011, 04:17 AM
Ha, come to Ireland! The happiest I've been over here was this past winter when for 6 weeks we were frozen. We have a lot of rain coming this week so I have to bring the outside ones back in. Grrrr. They hate it and so do I. In past years I've had woodchip pens but not now. This meant I had to have stables for everyone. It just sucks. I have 2 groups. Each of their fields has a roped off sacrifice section. Once the rain goes I will be fertilising, seeding, spraying, harrowing and rolling. Once those are good, I repeat for the sacrifice sections and then open it up again. It's just what you do. Every year I think I will never get the ground back, but I always do. It's funny how one second your waiting for grass to grow and the next you need the topper.

Don't despair, it will work out.


Mar. 30, 2011, 10:57 AM
I am no fan of mud, and don't believe its part of the annual rite of spring.

It started when I was in my 20's and the farm I kept my horse had mud that the horses had to go thru to get to pasture.
After the umteenth infection, my farrier told me bluntly, you keep your horse here another year, and he will be dead. It cannot tolerate the mud.

So, I share this because there is a reason why I am not a fan of mud. Later in life, I have a horse who is prone to scratches, cellulitis and lymphangitis.

I have pastures, that horses are not allowed out on till the soil is dry.

I also have my winter paddocks. Those paddocks are filled with stonedust, which I replenish every other year.

I try to keep them clean throughout the winter, but in the frozen tundra its hard. Come spring, raking and picking up hay and poop is done.
I also keep one paddock pretty unused, so if anyone has an injury they can go in that and its clean and dry.

If you contact NRCS(natural resources and conservation service) they can come out and advise you and possibly even give you money or cost share making mud free paddocks.
As a new farm owner, remember, the cooperative extension and your state or county dept of ag are your friends...use them as a resource. Some are better than others.

good luck, and enjoy your new farm.
Being a steward of your land is an important aspect to being a good farmer.

Personal Champ
Mar. 30, 2011, 11:31 AM
I have a 20x60 sacrifice area that DH made last fall. He scraped off the grass and topsoil, then laid 8 inches of modified down on the hard pan. It doesn't get any mud, until the spring thaw, when the manure that has been too frozen to pick up finally thaws. 3 weekends ago I spent 2 days picking up all the defrosted muck. Then we got another freeze. So I will be doing it all again in a few more weeks, once spring is finally here, at least it will only be a few weeks worth instead of months!

I am thrilled with the area and we plan to add 1B stone (pea gravel type) on top of the modified, now that we have a good compacted base that got snowed and walked on all winter long. My herd is allowed to go into the big field (not roped off) but they choose not to because they don't like the mud either and the hay is in the sacrifice part!

Mar. 30, 2011, 01:09 PM
ick. any mud is too much for me.
Ditto putting in a properly drained, and based and footed paddock for your horses for the wet season. They will suffer less being confined to such a dry sacrifice area than they would squooshing through 40 acres of swampland.

Think rainrot, mud fever, hoof abcesses, not to mention those hours lost scraping the clay out of their coats and off your boots and equipment.

Or the cost of getting a backhoe into dig your truck out when the SO decides that if it was dry enough for the pickup in AUGUST, its fine in MARCH.
Our properly drained, ditched and gravelled paddocks and drives were installed ASAP after that.


Mar. 30, 2011, 01:35 PM
This thread kind of makes me laugh...kind of. We had some terrorist deer take done a section of the very back of my large pasture fence - posts and all - and since the ground was too frozen to fix it, I had to rearrange some turnouts and put the main group in a smaller side paddock. The mud in that paddock was not bad at all - it was barely up over the sole of my boot, and completely dry in some places.
But nonetheless, I had one boarder complaining about her horse "standing in mud" and how he'll probably get thrush.
Yeah, he probably will - but not because of that paddock. But because its MICHIGAN! In the SPRING!

I'm lucky - it hasn't been bad on my place....yet. But to the OP, this too shall pass. We all have mud. It's kind of like death and taxes. In a month or two it will but a memory :yes:

Mar. 30, 2011, 03:12 PM
As a Charter Member of the MudHaters Association :mad:

I am in my 7th year of dealing with this Rite of Spring.

Setting aside a sacrifice paddock - mine is between pastures - seems to be about the only way to deal with the ground thawing, snow melting & grass reemerging.

I am no slave t omy pastures & never keep the horses off them, even now.
As a result my grass is not what you'd call lush, but enough comes back to keep 2 horses happy & their Summer hay consumption way down.