Make the Right Choice!
by Alayne Blickle, Horses for Clean Water
Footing material is useful for winter paddocks and confinement areas or for high traffic areas such as gates or watering points. The purpose of footing material is to build up an area to keep your horse or animal up out of the mud. By doing this you allow for surface water to drain and decrease the amount of erosion and mud created — all good for horse health, chore efficiency, neighborhood esthetics, and for the environment.
The type of footing you choose depends on these points:
- Horse-friendly and Horse Safe — Some types of wood chips are toxic; some sizes of rock are difficult to stand/walk on.
- Slope — The greater the slope, the more some materials will migrate. If you have a great deal of slope, choose a footing product that’s angular and will lock in place such as crushed rock. Pea gravel or sand will migrate too much in this instance.
- Your Soil Type or Base — With time, a footing product will sink into clay soils over the wet winter months. You may wish to consider a larger rock base with clay or some type of geotextile fabric below your footing.
- Your Precipitation — Very wet conditions require inorganic products like gravel. Organics such as hog fuel will decompose quickly and turn into a muddy, wet mess.
In the end, the critical point is that you choose something and get it in during the dry months. Imagine trying to guide a big truck through a rutty pasture and down a slippery hill in the middle of a December storm, all while competing with the other customers who also waited until the last minute to purchase their footing!
Geogrid products are another consideration. Keep an eye on this column for more information on incorporating them into your mud management program.
Check out the Horses for Clean Water website for upcoming events at www.horsesforcleanwater.com.