Now, let me ask you, isn’t winter and the winter-into-spring transition just a wonderful season – a real plus for us horse owners with all of that nasty, slippery mud???
Firstly, I wish to apologize for not posting for a while. I am on the cancer healing journey and the last couple of months have been a bit crazy… I’m also consolidating two equine websites into one due to lack of time, energy and $$$ restraints.
Do you have a horse (or horses) who just love to roll and roll and then roll some more in that sloppy stuff only then to commence self-entertainment by splashing front legs in and around that huge, slippery spot of MUD, all the while gazing at you with an expression of such innocence???
We all know that horses and mud go hand-in-hand, so to speak. And unfortunately besides being a real pain to deal with, unattended mud conditons can be unhealthy for our horses, which can lead to all sorts of nasty bacteria and fungal issues for our precious equines, not to mention posing significant safety issues, such as slippery footing and potential injury to your horse(s) and yourself.
Here’s some basic tips for helping to manage and minimize the amount of mud in your horse’s turnout – and for you to clean up!
1. Since soil and manure = high organic matter, this matter definitely increases the amount of mud that will seem to magically appear – lol… This dilemma can arise around your gate areas and out in the pasture itself. While it might not be great fun, picking the manure in these areas and anywhere where there is manure present on a regular basis (like every 2-3 days or as weather dictates), will help to reduce the amount of mud quite significantly.
2. And since soil and hay also = high organic matter, remove any uneaten hay rather than leaving old, uneaten hay in the field. Benefits are 2-fold in that your horse won’t ingest wet, potentially sub-par and/or moldy hay and the removal of old hay will aid you in your mission to reduce the amount of mud in your pastures!
3. Check all of your structures for water run-off, i.e., gutters and downspouts and be sure to keep them free of debris, dirt and leaves. Unfortunately, this is not a fun task but an ongoing task. However, the benefits for your buildings and surrounding ground area are significant – and less sloppy areas of puddled water and mud.
4. Whenever possible, don’t allow your horses to over-graze their pastures. This is a real tough one to achieve, but if you can reseed those more bare areas and keep your horses off the newly-seeded areas until grass is re-established (yes, I know – in the middle of winter – lol!), these steps will go a long ways in keeping your pastures in better and safer condition as spring and summer arrive.
5. Whenever possible, keep your horses off of wet pastures. Again, in the real world, this is a super tough challenge for many of us. However, grazing horses on sodden grass may not be healthy for them either, particularly if you have a horse with insulin-type and/or tummy sensitivities. And remember, forage first for our precious ponies!
6. If feasible, you may want to consider removing your horse’s shoes for the winter months. Doing so will help to reduce the impact that those thundering hooves have on a pasture – especially when they are wearing shoes and intermittent freezing, wet or muddy conditions prevail. Another potential benefit, depending upon your individual circumstances is that your horse gets to go “au naturale” for a few months.
7. With an 18+ hand horse, we definitely relocate his water trough around during the winter (and for all of our horses). Despite our best efforts, this guy has got hooves like small dinner plates! Seriously though, if you relocate the water troughs, it really helps to cut down on the major mud up to the knees type of thing… If you can install a more firm type of footing, this will certainly be of help.
8. Ahh, the old gate areas… If you have similar issues as most horse owners, we have one heck of a time keeping the wet, muddy, slippery areas at the gates in our pastures, especially as they’ve eroded over the years. It’s come to the time (actually overdue) where we must construct some sort of small retaining structure lined with firm footing. And 3″ – 6″ deep for the firmer footing may offer a better, more efficient and longer-lasting solution.
9. Depending upon your individual circumstances and property setup, if you don’t have sufficient pasture areas, an option or necessity (especially if slippery footing abounds) may be to limit turnout time for your horse (or horses). With this said, however, you know that horses are grazing animals and are not meant to be stall-bound for extended periods of time. And sometimes, depending upon the individual horse, a little extra help may be in order with the administration of a good probiotic and prebiotic or other preventative (in addition to smaller, more frequent meals and ongoing access to decent quality/clean hay) to help minimize chances of and/or to soothe tummy issues if it is not feasible to turn them out to graze for a sufficient time to meet their grazing needs. It’s certainly a delicate balance to achieve.
10. Last, but certainly not least, whenever possible rotate your pastures. This will not only help your horses; it will help your pastures remain in better condition, particularly during the freezes and thaws (and all that MUD) that seems to magically (well, not-so-magically really…) appear during the winter/cold months.
Well, no doubt there are many more excellent beneficial tidbits to share. Please feel free to chime in with your suggestions and practices you have implemented with your horses that you have found beneficial – we can always learn something new and valuable every day! The information contained in this post is definitely not an all-inclusive list of tips to help keep our horses safer when that winter mud arrives…
Best Wishes to all for a happy, healthy winter (and now almost early Spring – YES!) for you and your awesome equine, canine and other precious animal companions! Have an awesome week ahead!
Happy Riding & Healthy Living
From Renee and The Team At HappyHorseOfAmerica.com
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