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Suggestions to soften hard footing in very large paddock "area"

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  • Suggestions to soften hard footing in very large paddock "area"


    Last year I had my horse "area" (larger than a paddock but not a pasture?!) scraped (of about 3' of mud), new material brought in and compacted, etc. I've since put a bedding file/mixture on top of it, because it was so hard, but was trying to find something else to do use.

    I love that I no longer deal with mud but my OTTB and Belgian Draft are scraping their poor legs, at times, getting up and down...

    I was thinking about a rubber/DG mixture but it's pricey... I had one contractor suggest shavings but am not sure how that would do in such a large area?

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks very much!

  • #2
    How about stone dust? I only had some of my sacrifice paddocks (110' X 110')scraped, about 20-30 ft in front of stalls and the contractor did #2 stone with stone dust on top. I usually have to add more stone dust every other yr of so but it's so much nicer. Most of the rest is grass or a sand pile that I give them to roll in. In the 24 yrs I've been on the farm, I've only had 1 horse that didn't use the sand pile to roll. He made sure he used the spring mud!

    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.


    • Original Poster

      Thanks so much ~ they do have a mixture of sand and bedding fill (which I'm pretty sure is similar to Stone Dust), but it still is pretty hard on their legs. My draft, because of his large size, has a hard time getting up too...because there is just no give. Maybe I just need to put down a thicker layer.

      I had some bags of shavings, in my barn, so I put down 3 last night....just in the area they lay down and my OTTB mare just used it as a toilet!

      Thanks for the suggestion though, very much appreciated!


      • #4
        For a paddock, hard is better than the alternative. You might try adding some softer material in one area for rolling if you like. My first suggestion would just be sand. Shavings will break down into goo eventually.

        I wouldn't put rubber in a turnout area. I'd be worried that they'd ingest some, and the black rubber can get hot in the sun. Plus, it tends to wash away in rain if you don't have it well contained.
        If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


        • #5
          Agree with poltroon as just one area for them to lie down, put down at least 6" deep or more of sand. I'm guessing my sand pile was at least 12-15' across and ~8-10" deep. If you have several horses, each should have their own sand pile.

          If you feed hay on the ground, don't put the hay near the sand (think sand colic). Shavings will break down and, as you found out, a nice place to pee!

          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.


          • #6
            I have the same situation and have struggled with bedsores because of it. The solution which is working for me is pelleted bedding, the compressed wood shaving to which you add water. I have two large areas in each paddock with large nests of bedding. I started with about ten bags of pellets and then added from two to five bags each month to each nest. There are now pretty large soft areas and I haven't added more in a couple of months but I will add some next month.

            If I had to do it again, I would start with more, maybe twenty bags for each nest area.

            One horse immediately started using her soft area to roll and lie down but the other continued to lie down in the hard areas and would only pee on her bedding. She would roll in the sandy spot at the back, but lie in the sun in the middle of the paddock, on hard ground a few feet from the soft area. So with her, I started adding pellets to her rollie spot and even more to enlarge the nest in the middle and eventually, she caught on.

            Before I added the pellets, both horses had a little sandy spot in part of the paddock where they would roll, but they did not sleep there.

            I have also tried big piles of straw, which the horses loved, but it was such a mess for the farm workers to clean and they complained so I tried the pellets.
            "Random capitAlization really Makes my day." -- AndNirina


            • Original Poster

              ah! Thanks for the posts ~ hadn't even thought of the heat and rubber, thanks!

              Think I'll stick with what I've been using, just adding a bunch more, especially because when it does rain it holds up really well too and hasn't washed away.

              My OTTB had colic surgery in 2011 and my Belgian throws hay everywhere ~ so we've made "slow feeders", hopefully preventing chances of sand colic.

              I chanced the shavings last night - though one of the contractors that gave me a bid for the initial footing said he was going to use a 4" base of compacted shavings...thought that was odd and sounded like a bacterial nightmare!

              Thanks again - I do appreciate all the advice. Wish I could have left the dirt base but with Belgian feet and 2,000lbs, it leaves little to be desired with any amount of rain.


              • Original Poster

                Thanks for the ideas too!

                I think my cheapest option would be to have neoprene body suits made for the two!


                • #9
                  You do know they make neoprene hock boots for those horses that get sores. I don't know how they would work though as I've never used them.

                  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.


                  • Original Poster

                    I do ~ have hock boots for the draft, which he really dislikes, he'll hop around or just stand there like he can't move (he's such a baby). I also have a knee boot for my mare to cover a recent wound. Both work great, just hate to have them on when it's hot.