If you live in any climate where there’s regular rainfall and have horses, you know that mud is an issue. It not only sticks to your boots and hooves, it can also cause hoof problems, lost shoes, equine skin conditions, and makes a mess of zones with any traffic. Because our barn basically was sitting on a pile of new dirt,all around the outside of our barn was mud. The area right outside the door to the pasture also sloped down a hill and when it rained it was a slippery, muddy mess. So what to do..?
Basically you need something to cover the mud (like gravel), but also something to keep the gravel in place. There are some options of products designed just for this issue in the pasture. There are grid systems that you can place under the gravel like this lighthoof product which looks pretty nice for large areas. Or you can use geotextile filter fabric, which allows water to drain through but doesn’t allow any dirt particles through the fabric. So the mud is blocked from eventually pushing back up over any gravel you place on top.
We opted for covering the hillside with the filter fabric because we were able to score some for free from my dad who was able to get some extra from a job. Sweeet! You just have to roll it out and stake it down really well. Here’s Jeff rolling some out with a waiting pile of gravel behind him.
As far as gravel types to cover the fabric, it depends on a few factors. If you use a prefabbed product like the lighthoof you have to follow their specifications, you can’t use pea gravel for that product I believe. Larger gravel shifts around less and therefore stays in place better. But pea gravel is surprisingly a great option for horse footing. It’s very comfortable to stand on even for humans, and some barefoot trim advocates actually prefer it for hoof health, circulation and natural wearing of the hoof. Some people even use it in their stalls. So we opted to try it out. The tough issue with pea gravel is it shifts around easily, so we used railroad ties to make “steps” down the hillside and around the edges to help keep it in place.
After some time I can say that the mud is not an issue anymore, the horses love to roll and stand on the pea gravel, and it’s easy to pick with a pitchfork too!