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Suggestions on how to economically convert dirt paddock to....

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  • Suggestions on how to economically convert dirt paddock to....

    Something that will NOT turn into a sea of mud in spring and spikes of iron in the winter. I've had to take my boy out of the stall and bubble wrap and turn him out on pasture board. In the winter, there is no pasture turnout and all the geldings mill about in one huge paddock (which with gates can be turned into multiple smaller paddocks). The BO will let me have one of the small paddocks this winter so he can be fed hay pellets. With his four white stockings, we do constant battle with scratches AND I really don't want to risk injuries on frozen waves or sucking pools of mud. The BO will likely let me modify the paddock. What can I add to the dirt that will make it more useable in the winter and spring? Tons of sand? Stonedust? Please share your expertise. TIA
    pace, path, balance, impulsion and ??

    Don't panic! Ralph Leroy Hill

  • #2
    Economically? Is anything dealing with horses economical?

    I am right now considering the same situation. I've already twice resurfaced with pea gravel and/or stonedust. It's not holding up to three horses. During spring mud season I swore I was just going to concrete the whole thing! I'm now looking into geotextile fabric. The problem with the gravel/stone dust was that the first time around, it was not deep enough to separate the clay/mud from the surface. The second time around, it's deep enough (it's at about 8 inches now... or about 40 tons...) but they mill around and mash up their poop into the gravel! So now I have poop-gravel-slush when it's not frozen. I have a rubber mat under the hay rack, but to the left and right of that they have two high traffic areas that fill with rain and urine. It's just nasty. I spend more time in the spring just trying to re-slope and drain the
    paddock/run-in. Hence, my quest for the geotextile.

    If it's just your ONE horse in a paddock, you might get away with the gravel topped with stone dust though. But seriously look into getting something between the dirt and the top. It sounds economical to just use stone dust until you have to keep bringing it in, load after load.


    • #3
      Anything you put down will need a good solid base.
      Without that, any material will eventually be reabsorbed.

      Is BO really willing to have you excavate one of their paddocks?

      You will need to dig it out at least 6" then put down your base of 4" of gravel and top with 2-3" stonedust (to allow for settling & compacting).

      The above method gave me a nice mudfree, level path from gate to barn. 12' wide and 50' long.
      And cost me $1200 about 5 years ago.

      If there is no grass in the paddock now you can try "seeding" it with hay fines to develop grass that will help some with the mud.

      Ruts come with having horses out on soft/wet ground and aside from a weighted drag & harrow applied regularly I don't know of any way to avoid them.
      *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
      Steppin' Out 1988-2004
      Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
      Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


      • #4
        The simplest fix for a small paddock (what size is this area?) is to lay geotextile fabric down and cover with a minimum of 4" of gravel-3/4minus preferably or smaller. If the size is small enough that your boy won't gallop about, that might do it, if there's lots of turning/spinning or running, then I'd do 6" minimum.

        I did this with an area 40 x 80ish, no excavating, and it has held up beautifully for 4 years now, with two fairly active TBs on it exclusively for several wet months a year. I live in the land of wet...lots of wet, which equals mud very quickly.

        It is very easy to figure out how many yards of gravel you'll need if you have the area figured out. My math-teacher DH does the heavy math for me
        Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


        • #5
          It really depends on what kind of soil is present. Clay is hopeless, and digging it out and placing geotextile/backfilling with something more porous is your best bet.

          We have blessedly sandy soil, and little mud, but the few muddy spots that do develop (due to runoff and variations in the soil) are dealt with pretty readily by throwing down a couple of yards of pea gravel every couple of years. Gradually this requirement becomes less and less as the years go on, and the previous "bad spots", after 5 years, are no longer a problem with the pea gravel mostly staying put.

          If your soil is not clay and you want to go simplest and easiest, I'd put down, now, a couple of yards of pea gravel on the worst spots and see how it holds up to the late summer and fall rains. Then you'll know better if this is feasible for a larger project.
          Click here before you buy.


          • #6
            Originally posted by 2DogsFarm View Post
            Anything you put down will need a good solid base.
            Without that, any material will eventually be reabsorbed.

            Is BO really willing to have you excavate one of their paddocks?

            You will need to dig it out at least 6" then put down your base of 4" of gravel and top with 2-3" stonedust (to allow for settling & compacting).
            We did this about 3 years ago and we are still mud free in that area
            Epona Farm
            Irish Draughts and Irish Draught Sport horses

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            • Original Poster

              An ideal solution

              Honestly, I want my own farm/farmette. But, that's not gonna happen in the near future. So, redoing one of his paddocks will be economical by comparison to buying property. So, I like the idea of dig, lay geotextile, add gravel and then stone dust. Off to do some calculations of cost. Meanwhile, Mr. "No Bubble Wrap" managed to run into a fence, rip a nice swatch of skin off his shoulder and lacerate his throat nicely resulting in large amounts of swelling. The less space this guy has to move in, the better..........
              pace, path, balance, impulsion and ??

              Don't panic! Ralph Leroy Hill


              • #8
                I'm on clay and had the front 20-30' from my stall doors which open to my sacrifice paddocks (2) dug out and filled initially with a road base (#2 stones) and a layer of stone dust on top. Every summer I put in another layer of stone dust. I did this about 15 or more yrs ago and it's held up quite well. The remainder of the paddocks are just clay with a good grass/weed base which do get dug up with hoof prints. Come spring as the ground is drying I drag the entire paddock with a York rake to smooth out the hoof prints. It's takes several passes but so worth it, especially for picking up piles of manure. My sacrifice paddocks are ~110' X 110' and there is a gate between them that can be opened so the horses have more room to run and make a mess.

                I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.