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dudders
Apr. 12, 2011, 11:26 AM
Hi all - we're considering a small farm property that has a pretty good slope right behind the barn. There are other pasture areas that are flatter, but I'm a little worried about having horses going up and down that area when it's wet, both for the effect on the horses and the impact on any vegetation we could potentially use to help the soil hold fast. The soil is heavy clay.

I was thinking we could run French drains in the area that's already carved out (not severe, but easy to see where the water prefers to go naturally), then top the rest with gravel/sand/mulch. Or is it best to just plan on redirecting the equine traffic flow to avoid that area altogether? (Workable but not ideal, as it would further reduce an already small pasture area.)

Do you have any tips for managing the soil on a sloping pasture to minimize mud and erosion? Or any good resources online? Thanks!

Calvincrowe
Apr. 12, 2011, 11:34 AM
Will the horses graze this steep portion or is it a route to another grazing area? Can you create a "path" for the horses to use? If so, I'd grade a "road", lay geotextile cloth and then gravel. Horses will use it, if it offers the easiest route.

Otherwise, I'd not allow them to have free access to a steep, clay hillside, unless it were dry. You might have to only use it during good weather.

You can lay down the hemp/fiber nets that builders use for landscape management--to stabilize soil after they grade. It slowly decomposes, as the grass or growth takes over to hold the hillside. They use that a lot here in the PNW. I still wouldn't allow free horse access, though.

Luckydonkey
Apr. 12, 2011, 12:26 PM
Our whole property is sloped. We created a winter sacrifice area behind the barn, and it slopes away from the barn on the lower side. After years of keeping them on open pasture year round - the slope turned to deep slippery slop in a hurry- so we now keep them off the main pastures all winter/spring- this helps protect the pastures and keep the ground from getting torn up.

ReSomething
Apr. 12, 2011, 04:00 PM
Will the horses graze this steep portion or is it a route to another grazing area? Can you create a "path" for the horses to use? If so, I'd grade a "road", lay geotextile cloth and then gravel. Horses will use it, if it offers the easiest route.

Otherwise, I'd not allow them to have free access to a steep, clay hillside, unless it were dry. You might have to only use it during good weather.

You can lay down the hemp/fiber nets that builders use for landscape management--to stabilize soil after they grade. It slowly decomposes, as the grass or growth takes over to hold the hillside. They use that a lot here in the PNW. I still wouldn't allow free horse access, though.

Good advice.