High traffic area pads for horses
University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service

Higgins, S.F., Koostra, B.K., Workman, S.R., Gallagher, V.N.

Suburban and rural horse farms can suffer from problems created by mud in areas of concentrated horse traffic. Because of the frequent trampling of wet ground, mud usually occurs at key locations on the farm—gates, loafing and feeding areas, and watering areas. Once mud appears, it is difficult to remediate, and the problem recurs with each rain. Depending on the enterprise, cost-share programs may be available that can offset the expense of installing high traffic pads. Excessively muddy conditions impact the health and well being of horses by creating a soft surface that makes walking and standing difficult. Extremely muddy areas may increase shoe loss for shod horses. Mud can harbor pests such as flies and mosquitoes as well as pathogens that may cause infection. Muddy areas can be dangerous and expensive for the horse owner as well. Such areas can become slippery and increase chances of falls and injuries. When the mud dries, the soil becomes compacted, prohibiting vegetation growth and creating an area with reduced infiltration and increased surface water runoff. Air spaces in the soil are removed, which reduces the insulation value of the soil and can cause water lines near livestock waterers to freeze. Exposed soil has a negative effect on water quality. The lack of vegetation allows nutrients, sediment, and possibly pathogens to be carried in runoff and discharged to surface water. Concentrations of pollutants may exceed local and national water quality standards. A solution to the problem of mud is the construction of pads in high traffic areas where horses congregate. A properly constructed pad can provide a sturdy surface for the horses to stand on and can significantly reduce mud in these areas.