Managing Mud & Manure – Muddy Pastures

Mud and manure on the “open range”

Mud can be a special concern when it covers more than just the heavy-use areas where horses access food, water, and shelter.

1. More space = more mud = more problems.

When pastures become as trampled and muddy as small holding areas, environmental concerns, like pollution and runoff, are multiplied. Muddy pastures can also lead to future problems with weeds and poor grass growth.

2. Protect your pasture by using a paddock or sacrifice area.

If a pasture is too wet to drive on, it is too wet for your horse! Prevent future pasture problems by placing your horse in a smaller “sacrifice area” when soils are wet. Learn more about sacrifice areas here.

3. Prevent weeds.

Muddy, trampled pastures are the perfect starting place for weeds. Weeds can germinate in upturned soil and gain an early advantage from the moisture as muddy pasture dry out. Planning ahead to protect wet pastures can help prevent future weeds from being established.

A closer look at flies and mud:

Common house flies, stable flies, and face flies lay eggs in warm, moist organic material—exactly what the mud in horse pastures is made of! The best way to control flies is to eliminate places where flies can lay eggs and reduce the manure that attracts adult flies.

Covering your manure pile or compost pile can help keep flies out. It also can make the pile’s temperature hot enough to kill eggs from flies and horse parasites.

In open pasture, dragging fields with a weighted wooden pallet, box spring, or harrow can break up clumps of manure and reduce fly breeding grounds.  If your horse is regularly dewormed, this will not spread parasites.

The University of California offers helpful  pest control information online, including information on flies.


The information on this page is taken from a larger IVSWCD publication. You can download our entire Equine Mud & Manure Booklet as a pdf.