Horses and Mud on Freezing Mornings

Salsa the Horse hooves on frozen ground in Monroe.

Salsa the Horse hooves on frozen ground in Monroe.

Article by Michael Hipp, Resource Planner

Mud on freezing mornings can not only be frustrating, it can also be downright dangerous. And not just for you, but also for your horse.

When mud freezes it’s not actually the mud that freezes. It’s all the small water molecules inside the mud that freezes, binding themselves to the various molecules in the soil, and when they do they turn the mud into a slick surface that is as hard or harder than concrete.

What makes this dangerous for your horse is a few things. First there is the slick surface. Whether a horse is barefoot or shod, maintaining traction and safe footing on frozen mud is quite a feat, and if they lose their footing they could fall and injure themselves – or you. Secondly, mud usually does not have an even surface. If you look at most muddy paddocks or pathways there are foot and hoof prints, peaks and valleys caused by traffic going through it on warmer days. When things are frozen those peaks turn into very sharp points which can cause bruising on hoof soles and sometimes puncture wounds, especially if the horse loses footing and falls on them. I can tell you from personal experience that if you lose your footing and fall on any of those peaks in the mud they will hit places you never knew you had. My back hurts just writing that!

Mud also not only makes walking and moving around dangerous, but it also can cause other problems. Frozen mud can prevent the free travel of gates, sometimes freezing them to the ground. This makes moving horses in and out of their turnouts a challenge, especially compounded by slick surface conditions. Horses have also been trapped in barn fires because the door that would let them escape was frozen to the ground and blocked by frozen mud.

If you have issues with mud, on pathways or in paddocks or turnouts, there are solutions. A lot of those solutions involve drainage and footing issues, and each of those can be specific to a property. If you are struggling with mud and want to be safe during this freezing weather please contact us for a free site visit to discuss solutions unique to your property. And depending on your property, there might be financial assistance available to help.

Stay safe out there, and we look forward to hearing from you.