Winter Pasture Keeping

For some of us, keeping our horses above water can literally be an all winter struggle. Currently in California, we are being hammered with inch after inch of rain. Even with my pastures and paddocks that have decent drainage systems, there is only so much moisture they can take before being backed up leaving my horses standing in water as even more water comes down. These tips I’ve compiled are solely things have worked for me in the past, and some I have tried and failed with but might work for you in the interim. My paddocks are made of crushed pebble that allows for drainage, but over the years you lose rock, you add dirt from hooves and manure which blocks drainage.

-Muck Busters: This product is a woodchip formulation built to be put in paddocks to help soak up the excess moisture while being biodegradable. This is the first year I have used it, and it has worked wonders in the muddy areas of pastures and paddocks!

-ELK GROVE MILLING NAME: This pelleted product is built to be put in stalls to help absorb moisture, I believe originally formulated for soaking up urine. I used the product as a base for the stalls since I have pipe panel stalls and sideways rain still gets in. I put a few bags down at the bottom of the stalls and bedded like normally over the pellets. The rain still gets in but the shavings stay drier thanks to the bottom level soaking it all up.

-Adding crushed rock: Always a great option but not always cost or weather permitting. The rock allows my horses drainage and reprieve from the mud. I will only do this in the muddiest of spots where they might slip and hurt themselves while frolicking around.

-Sacrifice pasture/Area: Regardless of how much upkeep we try to do on fences and paddocks, there will always be some winter damage from our hooved friends. I generally rotate my horses through the pastures in the summers to allow them to grow and rest while they munch on another section. In the winter, I confine them to one turnout space that I deem as sacrificial that I can let them destroy through the winter. Then, in the spring and summer I will reseed and nurse that section back to health.

Have any great pasture tips for winter? Please feel free to share!

-Emily Bomgardner