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Dealing with muddy gateways

I know this is something we should have dealt with in the summer but we didn't...

Unfortunately our paddock is on a slope and at the bottom is both the field gate and a field shelter attached to the stables.  It is only September and already we have a mud bath!  I know the solution is to improve the drainage and put down something like crushed lime but presumably this has to be done when it is dry - there is no way you could get heavy machinery in now.  

Has anyone found any short term measure I could use now to improve the situation (other than keeping the horses out of the field or fencing off the muddy areas)?  I assume you can't put lime down in the wet nor the special rubber mats I read somewhere about?

Could you not put down some of that really well crushed hardcore, you can also get those black chippings stones which is also used as hardcore. You could use a wheelbarrow although it would take quite a while
someone advised using old carpet - has anyone tried this? It might be a good option for us as well - short term....

I'd be a bit wary of carpet on a soft muddy surface.  If it gets worn your neddies may put their hooves through it and you may have panicking horses when they then try to move and the carpet moves with them!

Bark chippings can help, but you have to keep putting them down as they sink in the mud. Some tree surgeons will give them away, or only charge delivery. Ideally they should be hardwood and not Leylanddii (sp).

Have a look at the Winter Riding Surface thread for a few more ideas....

A bit of back breaking work with a spade, to help divert water run-off will help - or what about some old (cheap) paving slabs (broken or cracked ok).  Then a relatively small quantity of hardcore over the top (they'd be a bit slippy otherwise.)  Bit of hard work with a wheelbarrow - but it would get you through the winter and then next year ...

We've got large chalk stones, then a layer of crushed tarmac stuff (bit like gravel but black) and then bark chippings on top of that. It's lovely!
Mind you, we did put it down while it was dry so i don't know if you'd be able to do this when it's wet??? Worth a go though. Chalk helps to soak up the water too i think.

Thanks for all your suggestions.  

My job this weekend will be to dig a small trench to divert some of the water (or better still persuade my partner to do the digging).  I can see that part of the problem is rain coming off the barn and overshooting the downpipes and forming a waterfall right in front of the field shelter so your advice should help until we can alter the guttering.  Also I will try the idea of old slabs perhaps covered with this ash some of you have mentioned.

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