Fighting Mud & Erosion
One of the most common problems that horse farms have is mud and erosion around gates, waterers, sheds, and hay feeders. Instead of constantly bemoaning the problem, fix it!
You start by digging down about six inches and putting in three to four inches of #2 rock as a foundation (those are rocks about the size of your fist). A road commercial fabric can be added under the rock, but it is not essential. Then you put down four to five inches of dense grade aggregate (DGA) on top of that (rock dust). The rock provides the base and drainage, and the DGA keeps the rock from “coming back up” and being exposed. Exposed gravel and rock can be hard on horses’ feet.
Then as needed, and probably at least once a year in spring, you add more DGA to the areas to keep them mud-free and looking good. You also need to re-seed around those graveled areas annually (or more often depending on weather and wear).
Using Gravel to Prevent Erosion and Mud
A lot of people have asked how big of an area you should gravel around an area that is high-traffic and prone to erosion and mud. You can determine that by how wide the wear pattern is. There should be enough area around waterers and hay feeders to allow two to three horses to walk around safely. For gates, you want to put in a large enough area that gets you through the gate leading a horse without getting into the quagmire that the horses make by loitering around the gate.
Smart Paddock Gate Locations
Now that we’ve talked about how to fix your mud problem, keep in mind that planning is the long-term solution for mud. If you are buying or building a farm, where you put your gates and locate your pastures in relation to your barns will determine where your heavy traffic areas will be.
Be logical; don’t put barns or gates where it will be wet all the time. In other words, don’t put them in the valley or at the bottom of the hill.
And for safety reasons, you don’t want to put your gates in the corners of your fields. That limits your traffic area, putting a lot of pressure on that one piece of ground. It’s also not a good idea because if a horse runs toward the gate, there isn’t as much room for him to maneuver and stop, especially if it is muddy!
Understand that you will always have some mud if you are running a farm. In our previous blog we talked about re-seeding pastures and caring for heavily trafficked areas.
When you are planning your farm, if you have a barn of 20 horses, you should have four fields of appropriate size (20 acres or more) to service that barn. That will allow you to have one field resting and three in service at any time.
Feel free to send your questions to me at Ron@EquineManagement.com and I’ll try to address them in future blogs.