Sound Horsekeeping Sign Program

If you’re managing manure, mud, and pastures in a way that protects horse health and the environment, you’re probably eligible to earn our Sound Horsekeeping sign!* You do not need to be doing everything on this list to qualify, but the “High Priority Practices” are definitely encouraged.

Sound Horsekeeping sign with title.jpg

To apply for the sign, fill out the online checklist here:

Reducing Mud

High Priority Practices

  • Install gutters and downspouts. (Downspouts should direct roof runoff away from confinement areas.)
  • Create a confinement area (winter paddock).
  • Add footing (gravel, hogfuel, etc.) in paddocks.
  • Fence off any creeks, wetlands or water bodies.
  • Reroute water from roofs, driveways, parking areas and hillsides away from confinement areas. (Install French drains, grassy swales, dry wells, water diversion bars or culverts.)
  • Create a mud-free exercise area (e.g., track paddock, trail course, dry-lot turnouts, outdoor arena or round pen).
  • Install a rain garden.
  • Create vegetative buffer strips on the downslope side of confinement areas, compost bins or other heavy use areas.

Managing Manure

High Priority Practices

  • Cover manure pile with a tarp or roof.
  • Pick up manure in stalls and confinement areas daily or at least every 3 days.
  • Implement a manure disposal plan (advertise for pickup, take somewhere for disposal or have it picked up).
  • Build a manure composting bin(s)/storage area.
  • Reduce bedding use by installing rubber stall mats, change to pelleted bedding or just reduce amount used.
  • Use a slow feeder to reduce the amount of manure produced (this also reduces boredom in paddocks and can help horses keep a healthy weight).

Improving Pastures

High Priority Practices

  • Keep horses off pastures during the winter months.
  • Remove horses from pastures when grass has been grazed down to three inches. Allow grass to re-grow to six to eight inches before grazing again.
  • Lime pastures.
  • Spread manure or compost on pastures during the growing season (April through October) no more than ½” layer at a time and 3-4” per season.
  • Harrow and mow pastures.
  • Take a soil test.
  • Check pastures for weeds and either hand pull, use a weed burner or apply the recommended herbicide in amounts at the recommended time of the year and plant’s lifecycle.

Protecting Wells & Septic Systems

High Priority Practices

  • Keep horses off of septic system drain field.
  • Pump and inspect septic system regularly.
  • Keep horses, livestock and manure storage areas at least 100 feet from a wellhead.
  • Get a well test.

Enhancing Wildlife Habitat

  • Install bird and/or bat boxes.
  • Plant a hedgerow of native plants along driveway, paddocks, pastures or other areas.
  • Use mosquito dunks or gold fish in troughs for mosquito control.
  • Use fly predators for fly control. Leave snags. A snag is a dead or dying tree left in place to provide habitat for wildlife.
  • Create brush piles, rock piles for small wildlife. 


Snohomish Conservation District farm planners can be reached at 425-335-5634 or email

Download Fact Sheet

Depending on where your property is located, Snohomish Conservation District may be able to help you cover the cost for compost bins, graveled confinement areas, gutters, downspouts and underground outlets.

*Please note: You must live within Snohomish County or on Camano Island to qualify. You must also be compliant with local regulations.