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Loosing the *Battle of the Mud*

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  • Loosing the *Battle of the Mud*

    Its getting serious now. Things were just starting to dry out from our recent nor'easter, and more rain today that was only supposed to be a few 'scattered showers.' From the looks of my paddocks, I can definitely say there was nothing scattered or showery about it! I can't drag the pastures to break up the manure, or even pick up manually and its almost impossible to pick it out of the muck.

    The horses are grumpy, and every night I go out there worrying if tonight is the night I'll find the rainrot or thrush or scratches. Rico's heels felt a little soft a few days ago. Had gotten harder by Tuesday, and now hes' in the muck again. Its taken me months to get Inky's feet back in a nail on shoe... I shudder to think what all this wet is doing to his feet.

    I went looking for ryegrass seed last weekend, I usually put a heavy cover down for winter, but no one has any, they say there was a shortage. My brand new sand riding paddock did not even have time to settle and pack down, it is now just ankle deep sandy muck. Should I call it smud or smuck? Rico doesn't even want to leave the concrete pad in front of the barn.

    So.. what management tricks do my fellow cothers have up their sleeves to keep a 3 acre property from turning into a stinking, rotting mess. This is the 4th year I've had drought that killed all my summer and transition grasses, followed by relentless rain that turns it all into muck.

    Maybe its time to find a field board situation and pack them off for a break.
    Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
    Witherun Farm

  • #2
    There are ways, none of them inexpensive or easy though.
    I feel your pain though...I'm in Ct and my barn and paddock area are in a natural "bowl" area that's low ground surrounded by high ledge. Low ground that I removed trees from and that also has a couple road drains opening into it.
    The only solutions that worked for me were swayles, drains and removing the topsoil from the barn paddock and having that pddock graded at about 15 degree drop from west to east so water sheets off of it. No topsoil means nothing to turn to mud. And with the slope and the drainage around it, no water can sit on it either. We had record breaking rain for weeks here in Ct this summer and even after 3 weeks of hard rain every single day the mud in my barn paddock never got worse than an inch deep and it never had standing water. Although my sand rolling pit was a quicksand pool.
    There are trenches dug outside around it and those drain into a wet portion of unused woods so it only gets the rain that falls on it. One spot has developed a newer "stream" that cuts across it during heavy rain that I'll have to dig a new swayle for next year. But for now the horses have fun paying in it even though it's only a few inches wide. But it's eroding stuff.
    Other options might be to invest in some cow carpet and putting that down in a smaller sacrifice turnout area and then covering with drainage material liked process stone and pack that.
    A more simple quick fix type thing would be to bed yoour stalls deep in pelleted bedding. That will dry their feet right back out again overnight no matter what they have to stand in all day. Boarding barn I know has 20 stalls bedded in it and their turnouts are all deep clay muck and water for a couple months every spring. Not a single case of thrush. Same here at home...never had wet mushy feet due to the Woody Pet.
    You jump in the saddle,
    Hold onto the bridle!
    Jump in the line!


    • #3
      Years and years ago I remember a conversation where someone was discussing their mud strategy. The question was when to get the horses out of the muddy pasture so it would dry out and the answer was to keep them out so the mud did not form, ie only let them out into the pasture when the ground was fairly dry. I tried it and although the area immediately around the run in (had no stall) turned into a nasty mudhole the remainder of the paddock was much better. At the moment I have an abandoned gravel parking area that has a lot of great features. It was fully graveled and compacted and sits on the ridgetop with excellent drainage and so would be a perfect sacrifice lot. Unfortunately the power pole still sits there and the phone guy really needs access to it so we are trying to think of ways to configure a small lot that will work for all of us.

      Anway MB's post is right on. To really beat the mud you have to do a lot of landscaping work to encourage drainage and beef up your soil profile in high traffic areas.
      Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
      Incredible Invisible


      • Original Poster

        Ah well... I can lock them out of one pasture and the paddock so they don't tear them up. The last small pasture has some high hilly areas that do OK, but that's the one I was going to seed with the ryegrass. There is stone/dust around the barn on that side, so I guess I'll have to put off rehabbing that pasture until we get out of this rainy cycle and drag the hay rack back into there. We can let them out on the bigger one to let off steam for a few hours a day when its dry.

        I didn't know that the pelleted bedding would dry out their feet that well. I tried it for a while, and although I loved how easy it was to muck, I found it to be very dusty, so stopped using it.
        Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
        Witherun Farm


        • #5
          Pelleted bedding can get dusty at times.
          But when you've got really wet weather and muddy paddocks it's the best thing to dry those hooves right back out again. And if it's rainy or damp all the time the bedding can't get dusty because it will soak moisture right out of the air as well as out of the feet. It doesn't make the feet overly dry either.
          Maybe try it for rainy weather only? Keep a few bags and if you get really muddy paddocks then dump a bag or two in your stalls on top of the shavings and once the paddocks and weather dry up again stop adding it and just let it run out on it;s own by just re-adding shavings or sawdust or whatever it is you use.
          I've used it on horses that had thrush, put them overnight in deep bedded Woody Pet stalls and in a short time that thrush is gone. No moisture for it. The pellets act like a hoof packing and then absorb moisture from even deep in cracks.
          Mud is a royal pain to deal with though. I know how annoyed you must be right now...mud and ice are the two conditions that drive all horse people nuts.
          You jump in the saddle,
          Hold onto the bridle!
          Jump in the line!


          • #6
            Geotextile info:





            • Original Poster

              Does anyone know if you can buy geotextile fabric without going through the whole consulting/distributor process? It would be an ideal solution for drainage in the bottom part of my small paddock. The top 2/3 is sand footing for riding, but I've got a roughly 60x30 area that is on a lower grade that would be perfect for a layer of geotextile with crushed gravel on top. I've been looking online, but most of the suppliers I can find are consultants, and I'd prefer to just buy the stuff and do my own site prep. We have a front end loader that makes it doable for us.
              Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
              Witherun Farm


              • #8
                You can get geo-tex at a building supply. It comes in massive rolls. We put it in our turn out shed 2 years ago-dug out the mud, 6" down, laid down the cloth, covered with stone dust and it is STILL dry as a bone in there. We are about to do the same treatment in our 2 small 'infirmary' paddocks which are currently about 10" deep, thick, slogging, clay muck. This is really the only good answer. You can add stuff to the mud for the rest of time and all you will do is make your mud deeper. (ask my how I know)
                Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.


                • Original Poster

                  Originally posted by RiverBendPol View Post
                  We are about to do the same treatment in our 2 small 'infirmary' paddocks which are currently about 10" deep, thick, slogging, clay muck. This is really the only good answer. You can add stuff to the mud for the rest of time and all you will do is make your mud deeper. (ask my how I know)
                  Riverbend... You have my sympathies with the clay. Ours is like modeling clay in MD, so I know exactly what you're going through.

                  I'll look for the geotextile. I'm pretty sure DH will be thrilled to have me stop complaining about the mud!
                  Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
                  Witherun Farm


                  • #10
                    We made our sacrifice paddock mud-free...

                    As others said - any solution is labor/resource intensive.

                    We have a 50 x 150 sacrifice paddock w/ run-in shelter stalls. Our native soil will pull the boots right off you! (RED CLAY!!)

                    So, we put down 70 tons of baserock (class 2, then class 4) and topped that off with sand.

                    It is WONDERFUL and MUD/MUCK-FREE!

                    If it ever gets too mucky (I don't like horses out on the pastures to ruin them when it's super wet), they get locked in the paddock

                    Unfortunately - there are not quick fixes. Stone Dust, Gravel and Sand are your friends
                    Equine & Pet Portrait Artist
                    **Morgans Do It All**