Mud Management: Key to Horse Health, Safety During Wet Weather

Experts offer tips for mud management on farms and how to keep horses and their hooves healthy when faced with copious wet weather.
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mud management
At most farms, the heavily trafficked areas are the most prone to mud buildup, including around gates, shelters, waterers, and feeders. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse
Owners and caretakers gathered recently at The Red Mile Clubhouse, in Lexington, Kentucky, to learn how to better care for their farms and horses during wet weather. The Kentucky Equine Networking Association (KENA) session, presented by the Kentucky Horse Council, featured a panel of experts who addressed mud management on horse farms.

Soggy conditions are nothing new in the Bluegrass: 2018 was one of the wettest years on record and model projections suggest that wetter-than-average weather will persist in the future. At the KENA meeting, Bob Coleman, PhD, and Krista Lea, MS, both of the University of Kentucky (UK), offered insights into wet-weather care for fields and shelters while Craig Lesser, DVM, CF, of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, described possible equine health issues that can arise during wet weather.

Mitigating Mud

Coleman, UK Extension horse specialist, reviewed ways owners can modify their farms to better handle precipitation. He said water runoff can come from the roofs of buildings and roads, but also due to the way the land naturally drains. Installing gutters to divert water away from buildings, as well as using swales and culverts, can help eliminate standing water on farms.

At most farms, the heavily trafficked areas are the most prone to mud buildup, including around gates, shelters, waterers, and feeders. Coleman suggested constructing pads in as many of these areas as possible; this involves removing soil and adding geotextile fabric and rock to encourage water to drain away from where horses congregate

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