Blog Special From Contributing Veterinarian Dr. Deb Eldredge: Mud Season Will Be Soon Upon Us

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Of course, this may be wishful thinking as we have had a mild winter so far here in upstate New York. Still, even with a blow out blizzard or two, I suspect mud season will soon be upon us. With a snowflake type Appaloosa, a grey Arabian and pinto mini among our equines I can't really ignore the mud or say I didn't notice it.

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I HATE mud -- I would much rather have snow or green grass. I guess ice is worse but not by much.

With mud, I worry about my horses pulling tendons, slipping and twisting legs. I worry about "scratches" on their heels. I hate grooming off clouds of mud dust. I breathe it in and cough, which makes me wonder how the horses stand it. Often when they come in at night, they are still wet which means either another late trip down to the barn to groom once they are dry or up earlier the next morning to groom. Not great options!

My ophthalmologist noted that I came in to get my highly scratched lenses of my glasses replaced about June each year. He wonder what stimulated all those scratches. It took me a while too -- but then I realized that was right after mud season. My solution is to remove my glasses to demud the horses. Now I may be missing a few muddy areas but the glasses last longer :)

We have tried various ways to minimize mud in the area right by the barn but with limited success. Part of our property has some shallow springs so certain areas are almost always wet. That is a major plus in drought years but a drawback for mud season.

One year, I scattered old hay on the muddy areas. That created amazing "adobe" and hardened to cement eventually. With a big rain storm; back to mud, however. The next experiment was throwing some "used" shavings in the muddy areas. That helped for a short time as well, but then simply mixed in to create attractive mud. The third attempt was throwing some crushed rocks. Worst option -- less mud, but I was picking stones out of the horses' hooves all the time.

I have heard stone dust works well. Maybe that will be my next attempt at mud control!