Horse Care During Mud Season
Horse Care During Mud Season
and other horror stories.
I have to admit, I really, really detest mud season. I live in NE Ohio so you can bet we can get some mud! I even live on a hill so it could be so, so much worse!
I am sure you’ve heard it said that horse people have 4 seasons- ice, mud, flies and Autumn! But we will look on the bright side of things- we are almost done with winter and looking spring square in the face- when there isn’t a white out!
Ooops! So much for positivity, right? But it WAS quite spectacular! This photos above where from today.
Okay- so you just have to learn to deal with it – mud is inevitable unless you live somewhere I would like to live!
A couple major considerations when building your barn are drainage, elevation, and excavation. You obviously want to build your barn on the highest elevation possible on your site with the grade sloping away from the barn and paddock areas. Drainage can be enhanced with drainage tiles, french drains and/or down spots off your barn roof.
If you don’t have the luxury of planning your building site, there are still things you can do to help.
Fence off a ‘sacrifice’, mud or dry lot. There are different names for it but it is basically a smaller paddock where you can keep your horses when the ground is soft to keep them off your pasture while it is growing. Horses are notorious for tearing up pastures. Poor things- they can’t help it! But unless you have ample acreage, and even then it is a good thing to have, a paddock area comes in very handy.
Areas by gates, water troughs and feeding areas will be the first to get torn up. You can use rubber mats in a run in shed for example or crushed limestone and geotextile fabric in heavy traffic areas to cut down on mud. Here is a site explaining their recommendation for the best configuration; https://www.lighthoof.com/blogs/blog/why-fabric-isn-t-a-good-solution-for-horse-paddocks
Another link with different experiences: https://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/forum/discussion-forums/around-the-farm/29064-i-ve- had-it-with-mud-need-geotextile-fabric
Mud can pull shoes off so you may want to keep your horse barefoot heading into the mud season. Thrush also can become a problem when a horses feet stay wet for long periods.
Feeding horses hay on the ground can contribute to a sloppy mess so investing in a good hay feeder will keep old hay off the ground. The hay or old bedding acts like a sponge and will just hold the water and keep the ground soft.
Consider creating a ‘Paddock Paradise’ You can read about mine here: My Paddock Paradise Track. Mine worked out pretty well until my daughter’s tb decided she would just jump over the temp. fence. The others were quite as athletic and ended up running thru it! But the idea is a good one and I could have worked thru the issues by some reconfiguration.
Here are some other articles to read. I even included ‘the perfect paddock’ so you can have pasture envy! Check out the Mud Season Survival Guide at State Line Tack!
The best thing about mud, is spring eventually turns into summer and things do dry up.
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