Readers Wage War on Muddy Pastures

More than 460 readers of responded to a poll asking, "How do you manage mud around your barn?"

results of poll on mud management

Results were as follows:

  • We use footing (crushed gravel, shredded wood products, etc.) in high-traffic areas: 65.23% (302)
  • We have a water diversion plan around the barn: 45.36% (210)
  • We have a manure management program for the pastures: 36.29% (168)
  • We overseed our pastures: 16.63% (77)
  • Other: 15.77% (73)
  • We use geotextile fabric with footing: 6.91% (32)
  • All of the above: 5.40% (25)

(Multiple selections allowed)

Readers shared their mud management tips in the comments below.

Results of weekly polls from are published in The Horse Health E-Newsletter. Published every week, this e-newsletter offers news on diseases, veterinary research, health events, and in-depth articles on common equine health conditions and what you can do to recognize, avoid, or treat them. Sign up for our e-newsletters using the form above or on our e-newsletter page.  

Look for a new poll on every week!

  • Our horses live near the beach, no mud from the rain
  • barn boots!
  • Not ALL the above but a combination of a few. Water diversion, footing material, manure managemen
  • horses are kept on gravel lots when the pastures are too wet.
  • i would like to have the $ to do all of the above!
  • not to much works, the mud overtakes us anyway
  • my "dirt lot" is on a slight slope - water drains naturally
  • Avoid it my walking around the worse of the areas. If that can't be done - plow right on through!
  • muck boots
  • Horses have sacrifice areas during muddy season
  • We removed all the loom last spring& sold it so we had enough $ to run drainage across the turnout
  • Our barn is on higher ground and it all drains down to the lower pasture. No standing water.
  • mud management?! We were rubber boots!
  • We put in all weather turnout paddocks for the wet seasons. Definately worth it.
  • small 4H barn, several paddocks, not too much problems
  • Pasture management plan to limit use of pastures when wet and soils would be damaged by trampling.
  • crushed gravel in front of the barn where it's the worse.
  • Barn sets on top of hill on sandy soil. Water drains quickly. Very little mud created.
  • We rope off areas so there is no "hoof" traffic in muddy places if possible.
  • we use lime
  • My husband planned our barn with alot of thought and detail. He did a great job cause it worked grea
  • My barn does not manage mud or have a plan - it's awful!
  • need help!
  • Straw for high traffic areas
  • We're on a steep hill - use used bedding for traction in slippery areas
  • we live in a sandy enviroment. mud not really a problem
  • just deal and wait for it to dry up, sometimes keep horses in stall
  • sand and sand
  • rotate pastures
  • Mud happens, especially right around the barn. We do the best we can and endure whats left.
  • We use stone dust for 12-15 ft from barn
  • We keep them inside when it is too muddy
  • Each paddock has a 30' x 40' gravelled area.We work closely with our local conservation district.
  • Haven't had enough rain for so long, it's not an issue!
  • Very hard to manage winter/spring thaw and all the muck. Nothing is that effective.
  • keep horses off pastures
  • we use old carpet in areas that become slick and muddy.
  • crushed blacktop has worked great - doesn't disappear into the mud. Mine has lasted about 10 years.
  • intelligent construction and don't hesitate to change something that doesn't work
  • when it thaws - we shovel
  • We try to groom the ground around the barn for run-off
  • not a lot we can do here.
  • proper roof run-off management, automatic waterers, grass coverage on pastures is over 85%
  • we put up with it - its usually not for long
  • Water diversion, footing management and tall boots with extra socks so the boots stay on in the mud.
  • Haven't found a solution yet. :(
  • sacrifice paddocks with crushed stone, keep horses off areas that can become muddy
  • it is very sandy at my barn
  • Since we haven't had decent rain in the last 4 years, I'd love some muck..Mary, South Africa
  • No mud management at that barn - too many horses on not enough pasture creates a huge mess
  • We dry lot the horses in the winter and add crushed rock to elminate as much mud as possible.
  • keep runoff flowing away, move horses away til it dries up, add footing, pray for sun!
  • live on an 1100 Ft.high sand pile ,some errosion no mud can't even make a puddle.
  • Keep the horses out of it as much as possible by taking them to pasture by a different route
  • Some natural drainage present, thankfully.
  • I wear high rubber boots!
  • we just suffer through it, 'til the ground is thawed and water soaks in
  • keep horses off wet pastures
  • Lots of gravel, 3/4 minus or smaller
  • We use native plantings with high water absorption rates wherever possible.
  • I spread straw ; Works very well
  • we removed all sod and dirt to 10" and replaced it with decomposed granite. NO MORE MUD!
  • Hate it, but living in the lower mainland, you get used to it
  • We added gutters to the barn as well as drainage with fabric, stone, and tile.
  • we lay new woodchips every spring in high traffic area
  • Wonderful sand...mud not a prob in Central TX.
  • High traffic areas have hoofgrid put down over geotextile fabric and gravel.
  • Had lots of mud until I had an apron of about seven inches thick of crushed gravel laid down.
  • no mud, sand
  • We do the best we can w/drainage & manure removal, but the horses are still mud bugs!
  • dirt paddock till the ground dries up
  • We use many management ideas, but we still have mud
  • sometimes the muck wins no matter what
  • very, very tall boots
  • live with it!!
  • tall boots.......
  • nothing, and hope it goes away fast
  • Use sandbags in low spots behind barn to stop water from leeching under walls
  • We are ankle deep in the mud wish we had a better plan
  • We put river sand in front of the breezeway, which is the muddiest area.
  • Mud isn't usually a problem
  • BOOTS!
  • Unfortunately, we don't get enough precipitation to create mud for longer than a day.
  • We ghave MUD!!
  • I also add straw to high mud areas
  • I rotate paddock areas to use drier paddocks
  • Florida is all sand no mud makes it nice.
  • We do what we can but live in a flat low area and sometimes it is just a mess no matter what.
  • in the seattle area I used drain rock in muddy paddocks.
  • live in the sandhills no mud here
  • It is not often seen in this part of Arizona, but pea gravel and chat are used in low lying areas
  • The barn I board at doesn't do a ton to deal with mud, but we're lucky as not much mud develops.

About the Author

Megan Arszman

Megan Arszman received a Bachelor of Science In print journalism and equine science from Murray State University in Murray, Ky., and loves combining her love of horses, photography, and writing. In her “free time,” when she’s not busy working as a horse show secretary or riding her American Quarter Horses on her parents’ Indiana farm, she’s training and competing her Pembroke Welsh Corgi and Swedish Vallhund in dog agility and running.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from Learn More