Icy paddock solutions? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 38 Old 01-13-2017, 08:20 PM Thread Starter
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Icy paddock solutions?

I posted a little while ago about how my paddock was snow-packed, but felt really nice for riding. Like sand. Well, that all washed away like a sandcastle at high tide.

We just had three days of unusually mild weather that included rain. So my paddock went from snow-covered to a foot deep sheet of ice. On the second day, I went out and chipped away ditches in the ice to drain as much water as possible, but today, the temps went from slightly above freezing to very cold in a few hours. The low tonight is -19 C with a -27 C windchill.

Riding isn't even a consideration anymore. I just want to be able to let my horses out safely. I've spread out as much of their lightly soiled bedding as I had (I stripped down their stalls to do it and separated out the manure). I use wood pellets and they expand, then crumble into a sawdust-type product. This provides excellent traction, but I don't have enough to do the entire paddock, just some pathways and feeding areas. My husband offered to get some sand for me tomorrow. The paddock does have grass growing, but of course, it's not a food source, it just helps protect against erosion. I wouldn't want to use salt partly because of the effect on the grass and partly because the horses might lick it.

What do you do to provide traction on ice? I could also use my pasture drag with the tines down to try to provide a bit of texture, but honestly, this is thick, frozen hard ice so there will be no breaking it up.
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post #2 of 38 Old 01-13-2017, 08:39 PM
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I use sand in the gate areas. I try to keep several bags of play sand on hand as those bags are easier to handle.

I will also use it on the garage apron and the back patio when they ice up. I would rather have the sand tracked in by the dogs than salt, plus,the sand won't hurt the dogs' paws.

If you can separate the two horses for turnout, I would also do that. They are less inclined to get to sliding/bucking/playing if they are by themselves but can still see each other.
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I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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post #3 of 38 Old 01-13-2017, 08:55 PM
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I get that here too. I throw down salt, no it doesn't hurt the horses' hooves, then I throw down sawdust, not shavings, or if I have lots....ashes from the wood stove. Provides non slip traction.
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post #4 of 38 Old 01-13-2017, 08:55 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by walkinthewalk View Post
I use sand in the gate areas. I try to keep several bags of play sand on hand as those bags are easier to handle.

I will also use it on the garage apron and the back patio when they ice up. I would rather have the sand tracked in by the dogs than salt, plus,the sand won't hurt the dogs' paws.

If you can separate the two horses for turnout, I would also do that. They are less inclined to get to sliding/bucking/playing if they are by themselves but can still see each other.
Good idea, but hard to separate them because I use my stalls with dutch doors as run-ins and the ice and snow have formed a complicated path to get to their stalls. However, I have not found they are inclined to act up at all. In fact, most days, every time I go out they are both in their stalls, looking out. On colder days, sometimes they're in the same stall. Doors are open, but they'd rather be in there. Both seem pretty much in hibernation mode right now. Spring should be interesting.

I agree that sand makes more sense than salt. Apparently DOT puts out a pile of sand for anyone to come get it for their driveways, etc. You can just go with buckets and a shovel and take what you want. I don't know what's in this sand exactly, but I told hubby I was going to have to taste it to make sure it wasn't salty. He replied "you would, too". And I will. My concern is that it isn't just sand, but he claims it is. Guess we'll find out tomorrow.
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post #5 of 38 Old 01-13-2017, 09:07 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by waresbear View Post
I get that here too. I throw down salt, no it doesn't hurt the horses' hooves, then I throw down sawdust, not shavings, or if I have lots....ashes from the wood stove. Provides non slip traction.
Hubby also mentioned ashes from the wood stove. He has a full bucket. I said he could put some in the lower end of the paddock, but I worry the horses might lick it. Same thing for salt. I have a mare who was probably deprived of minerals for a long time, because she eats salt like it's cocaine. If I put salt down, she'd lick it. The pellets do come to a consistency of sawdust when they're damp so they work really well. but I'd have to buy a lot of bags of pellets and at this point, they're not going to absorb anymore water because it's too cold. There are mills around I might be able to get sawdust from though.
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post #6 of 38 Old 01-13-2017, 09:55 PM
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Do you burn coal for heating, or know anyone who'd give you the ash? Makes for good traction, then it will fertilize come spring.
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post #7 of 38 Old 01-13-2017, 10:23 PM
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Sounds like a good plan, but I will say sometimes you just need to keep them in.

We have a similar situation atm just pure ice. My mare was in yesterday and today and I'm looking at the weather and trying not to think about how long the ice may last. She's in the shade...

Luckily she has a small runout paddock that isn't that icey that we sanded thoroughly, so she can at least be out, but sanding her entire turnout area enough to be safe is just not realistic.. not like the sand is foolproof either. What I may do if she's stuck for awhile is cordon off a larger section and sand that as well.

Sometimes you just have to make due :(. As much as we hate them shut in it really won't kill them here and there.

I also put boots on when I feel the traction is better, sort of pointless I know but it makes me feel a little better, they can still pull a tendon but at least they won't cut themselves with their own feet!

Your horses are "street smart" they'll be just fine. That counts for SOOOO much in the winter.

Funny story- the horses were coming up for dinner last year and there was a huge ice patch right at the gate. They trotted up stopped and carefully tiptoed across and went into their stalls. The Icelandic (imported) was at the far end of the field and got this massive running start. I swear I wanted to shut my eyes but I couldn't, I was just trying to tell myself she's the most capable of taking care of herself of any horse I've ever met... She went flying across that ice so fast there wasn't even a chance for her to slip. It was terrifying but pretty darn cool. Wonder if she had practice with that back "at home"?

The more I learn about the Icelandic horses/community the more I think they're all insane...in a good way! :)

Last edited by Yogiwick; 01-13-2017 at 10:33 PM.
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post #8 of 38 Old 01-13-2017, 10:45 PM
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I spread two buckets of ashes today! Best by far for the pasture. Ashes are non completely harmless if they lick it. My grandfather used to treat some kind of horse ailment (something like the flu I believe) with wood ashes, pine tar and something else. It was the best remedy around and my father still uses it on occasion.

Much better than salt I find, and you need way less, only a dusting.
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post #9 of 38 Old 01-13-2017, 11:04 PM
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Can you get a vehicle in there and use that weight to break some of the ice up?

We take the tracked skid loader into the paddocks and drive around to break up ice when we get it here (which is thankfully rarely). That doesn't help much if the layer is right on the ground, but helps a lot if the ice is on top of some snow.


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post #10 of 38 Old 01-13-2017, 11:51 PM
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Has anyone tried hoof boots with ice studs? Those might help but i've never tried them.
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