Posted on: June 8, 2022 Posted by: admin Comments: 0

Mud can be a problem for horses and humans alike. Many barn managers have wished they could wave a magic wand and get rid of it. Although reducing mud in the pasture and barn isn’t as easy as it could be, there are some things you can do. We reached out to Higgins at the University of Kentucky’s Agricultural Experiment Station, Lexington, Ky., for his top mud prevention tips.

Higgins stated, “You must be open to trying new things and thinking outside the box.” He also said that sometimes it is necessary to let go of bad habits and traditional ways.

1. Take a look at the daily environment of your horse

Consider the climate in your area and the average rainfall. Then consider how water flows through your horse’s pasture or paddock. Is there natural drainage through their paddocks? Is there a peak? Higgins asked, “Is it well-drained? Does water pool?” Many people will plan a horse farm by looking at aerial photography. They also plan on two dimensions: length and width. They are looking for places to place large or small paddocks but don’t think about drainage.

Gateways should be placed away from drainage areas, such as at the top rather than the bottom of slopes. Mud is more likely to accumulate in high-traffic areas, such as gateways or spots where horses gather naturally. It would be best if you moved gates away from natural drainage paths.

2. To help control water flow, use pasture grass

Higgins stated that you want to keep your pastures dry by keeping them under a full canopy. This is crop science 101. Because rain can do a lot of damage, you don’t want any bare or unoccupied areas.

You want sheet flow. This is where water flows in a thin sheet over a large area. Higgins said that thick stands of grasses or forages are needed to slow down water to filter it and hold on to it as long as possible to prevent soil run-off.

3. Control horse traffic

Allowing horses to be in the stable for a portion of the day and allowing them to rest for a while helps prevent soil compaction and overgrazing, which are both contributors to mud. To prevent soil erosion, you might consider stabling horses during heavy, prolonged rains. Higgins stated that horses could be found in fields trampling the soil if they were out in them. Please keep them confined and allow the soil to perk up. Then, turn the horses loose.”

4. You can control the flow of barn downspouts

The barn and arena roofs can create more run-off, which requires direction. Horse activities, from washing to grazing, require water. Higgins says that this is a marriage made in Heaven.

Higgins stated that you need to manage and harvest every drop of water on your farm. You need to manage water coming out of downspouts so it doesn’t create gullies or concentrated flows that end in soil erosion and soil moving away. This also creates mud zones.

Another idea is to collect roof water via rain barrels or tanks. Higgins stated that you could use the water to keep dust at bay or water your plants. This reduces mud, and it also saves money.

5. Pervious concrete can  be installed

Pervious concrete is a block of concrete that captures water. This allows the water to filter into the soil below, which reduces run-off, mud and erosion. Higgins stated that water flows through concrete when you pour it with water. It’s a great wash pad, and I would recommend it. It can also be used to make a form about a foot in width and 30 inches in length. This makes it a splash block that you can use under a downspout.

6. You might consider creating an all-weather pad

Higgins recommends that heavy traffic areas such as feeding areas, water troughs and places where horses gather together in groups have a heavy traffic pad to provide an all-weather surface. First, select a flat area with well-drained soil and relatively high ground. Higgins recommends looking for geotextile material at farm stores or highway construction suppliers. Non-woven fabrics are better suited for water management.

Higgins oversaw the installation of all-weather areas for pastures using geotextile fabric, 8-10″ of compacted dense grade aggregate gravel and geotextile fabric. Higgins stated that it is important to use a roller to compact the gravel. Higgins stated that dust is crucial because it helps lock in the rock after it’s wet.

Higgin stated that there would be horse owners who complain about gravel because it is too hard on their horses’ feet. However, mud can also be hard on their feet. It’s not a problem if you properly handle the rock.

You will need to remove 8-10 inches of topsoil until you reach a clay layer. Place the geotextile fabric at the bottom. It does not go up on the sides of the grass or the bottom.

Fill in 8 to 10 inches of aggregate, then cover it with Class I sand and agricultural lime. Higgins said that this gives horses sandy feet to stand on.

He said that the soil removed would expand by 50% over its original volume.

Plastic gravel paves, interlocking matrix base bases, and grass paves pave are also helpful. These can be used to prevent wear and gulley erosion and provide greater traction around water troughs and other areas such as gateways, run-in sheds, and around water troughs.

Higgins recommends that farm owners contact their county extension office and county conservation district. Higgins stated that taxpayer money might be available to help you implement some of these suggestions on your farm via cost-sharing programs.

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