Equestrians across Eastern PA are rejoicing – the Polar Vortex is over and Spring is finally in the air! But with spring comes the inevitable to every PA horse farm: mud.
Mud is a fact of life for Pennsylvania horse farm owners, and come spring our horses transform into hairy, muddy messes on four legs. Boots are sucked off, horseshoes get lost in the muck, and the ground around gates and high-traffic areas transforms into swampland.
If you find yourself cursing the mud around your barn this spring, take heart. There are a few things you can do to prevent a muddy disaster next year.
One preventative measure is overseeding areas of your PA horse farm that tend to get muddy. Planting more grass can help the soil hold firm in wet weather, and withstand horse and human traffic betterthan areas that are planted sparsely. Depending on the type of grass you choose to plant, this can be either a temporary or permanent mud solution.
If overseeding isn’t quite doing the trick for your horse property, you might want to consider building high-traffic pads in areas that become muddy in springtime. While installing pads comes with an initial investment, they can eliminate mud permanently. A high-traffic pad starts with a layer of geotextile fabric against the ground, and is built up from there with about 4” of packed stone, followed by a layer of sifted lime, between 2-4 inches thick. This method can work to eliminate mud near gates,water troughs, and barnyards, and once installed is similar to, but less expensive than, concrete.
Setting aside a sacrifice area is another way to help manage mud on your horse farm. When the weather gets bad and the ground gets soft, turn your horses out in a smaller sacrifice paddock in order to preserve the grass in your main pastures. Rotating pastures is also a good way to reduce mud and maintain grazing areas, as horses are moved to a different pasture before they trample all of the grass into a muddy mess.