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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm sure that those of you who do a lot of trail riding will laugh at me, but I want to be sure I'm not going to hurt my horses.

We have heavy, heavy, slick, bad clay. When it's really wet it turns into a slimy, sticky, ten-inch-deep suck-off-your-boots material. It's so, so bad.

Part of the pasture where we can ride is currently fairly muddy. There's a small creek back there and it tends to flood and spread out quite a ways. So, just looking at it from a distance, I'd guess there is currently 20 feet of mud that we'd have to ride through, in addition to the small creek. My daughter wants to ride Moonshine through there, because Moonshine hates going through water, even water that's just an inch or two deep, and has refused many times. Daughter feels like she needs to be assertive on this one and make Moonshine go through that mud and water, and, generally, I agree. I just want to be sure no one thinks this is a bad idea? If this kind of mud can suck my boots off, is it not possible that we could get the horses stuck in there? Moonshine needs to be able to go through water, but I don't want to force her and then get her hurt because of it.

I'm also planning on taking Pony back there.
 
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Yeah, I wouldn't, personally. Mud is different than water. Could your daughter not just set up a hose in a field somewhere and make the horse walk through the water? Some horses can panic when they are sinking in the mud and kind of flail around.

Is Moonshine shod? If so, it will be easy to lose a shoe. Another thing that makes me super nervous about mud is the potential for cuts. It's impossible to know what is laying under all that mud. A sharp rock, a piece of metal left there years ago... but I may be a just a little paranoid.

I agree that Moonshine should be taught that walking through water is not a big deal, but throwing in 20 feet of mud is not going to convince her of that. It could have quite the opposite effect. I'd find or create a puddle and make her walk through that instead. Start by doing it on a lead and rewarding, then under saddle. Then make the water more scary or find shallow streams that are safe.
 

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I wouldn't use that mud as a training point or you better or else point until she goes through water water with out objection. l'm familiar with that type of mud and you could be setting yourself up for additional issues as pointed out. Not just training. Vet care required.

Find a spot with no mud or set up some puddles to work with her. Once she is headed through those then a spot where there is only a stride before the water. Recovery from a slip and fall is not easy in that type of slick mud.
 

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You need to get pony crossing water without issue first. Wouldn't add mud to the mix until pony does going through water.

My gelding will go through anything he's pointed at. Trail across the highway has a mud water crossing. Muds knee deep water is up to my horses belly. Crossing water an mud is part of being a good trail horse. Just like going through brush with downed trees.

Mud here will suck your boots off. Horses are shod and never have lost a shoe in boot sucking mud.
 

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A horse should go through mud if you ask it to if he is a good trail horse, but I think it's the riders responsibility to use good judgement here. Asking a horse to slog through long distances is very tiring (it would be on a person doing that) is unfair and can easily turn the horse very sour on going out. I think doing this is unfair to the horse.
Having to get through short sections of mud on a trail is one thing but miles of continual mud for me is a no no. I wouldn't want to do it so why would I ask a horse to.
when there is a lot of water/mud in our woods I tend to avoid them until they dry up a little.
 

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There is mud and then there is mud and what you describe is not what I would intentionally ride my horse into nor expect it to cross willingly..
Riding around, on the outskirt of it in a few inches depth at most is one thing...that depth to me you are asking for a fight, refusal and the animal to pull or tear something in a effort to release their limb from the sucking motion deep mud can do.
10" deep is on many to the knee....that is deep when referring to mud...
Now my guys if that was water...you be bailing off cause they are pawing, playing and about to go down in it to roll...save the saddle darn it!!

If water crossing is a issue, instead consider building from 2x4 or 2x6 and lining it with a old pool liner, add some sand for a bit of traction on the bottom and flood it...
Teach them to walk through it first with you leading, then someone get astride and get "escorted" with a side walker, then finally go through alone from both directions....
Now you want to add challenge, muddy the water or add food coloring but make it the horse can't see the bottom and start again...
I know my own will not willingly walk through anything they can not see the bottom of first...encouragement, like a ton of leg applied, and at their pace...horses do not willingly go where they can not see forget feel their hooves touch bottom...
A huge trust test you present...
And some tests are not ones you can lose, ever, no matter what...pick those challenges very carefully.
🐴... jmo...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Wow, I'm really glad I asked. I assumed everyone would be like, "It's no problem, go ahead, you're being paranoid." OK, great. @Acadianartist no she's not shod. @horselovinguy I don't suppose you could refer me to a picture of what you're thinking of? I'm not able to visualize it. I would love to make a little water feature.

At the old place, we had a really shallow creek that was rocky. It was great for purposes of riding through. One thing that always got me was Moonshine was fine going through if it was her idea, but if my daughter tried to get her through, even leading her, sometimes she wouldn't go. It was actually the first place I was ever confident enough to get really firm with a horse, to make her go through it. I remember one time just giving Moonshine a glare, then three hard tugs on her lead rope, and then "We're going" and we did.

It's strange because she's the one with all of the trail experience. I wonder if maybe she had a bad experience one time. Pony generally has no problems crossing water.
 

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Here you go...
1108284
1108285

Look for pictures of trail obstacles for horses...some great directions on how-to make are available for free...this though was my idea and you would be amazed how much fight you will get from something this shallow... :oops: :rolleyes:
🐴...
 

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There is mud and then there is mud and what you describe is not what I would intentionally ride my horse into nor expect it to cross willingly..
Ditto. There's different type of mud. What you describe, I would NOT make my horses go through.

At our new place, we have a dam of water and part of what drains into that body of water is a low place that goes through our property. At the narrowest place I can fine, it's probably about 30 feet wide or so? We had a really dry summer and it did dry up enough I could ride through. I tried one time in the spring to see how it was. We made it like one or two steps and then we turned around and go back out. It was the DEEP SUCKING CLAY MUD. Not making my horses go through that.

I want to fence off that area next this year for the next pasture. But I need to build TWO approaches with culverts first, so the horses can easily and safely get over those low places with the deep sucking clay mud.

Red is very much a pig pen (LOL) so I try to keep his access to mud to a minimum. There will also be a few areas of the pasture I will fence off, just to keep them out of those areas.
 

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I had one of my horses in mud so deep I thought we weren't going to get out.....pretty scary.....didn't realize it was as bad as it turned out to be.....so, what happens if Moonshine can't get out?
 

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Yeah, it's a no from me as well. I wouldn't risk it.

The other day, I was riding my horse & we came to an area that was extremely muddy, like there were sinkholes, it was pretty bad - we turned around. It's not worth risking getting stuck or any injuries. We won't be down that way until it dries up a bit.

You are being smart to think about this, I'd work on getting him used to water in other ways, than dangerous mud.
 

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I agree with everyone else. We have clay soil and I avoid riding when it's muddy. For one thing, it's Arizona, so if I wait a little while it will dry out. But even if it's not all that deep........last year I rode in my favorite meadow on some muddy days and to this very day, over a year later, I am dodging holes made from her feet LAST WINTER. It's like they never go away! So beyond the safety issue, which is the main thing, I also hate ruining my favorite places to ride. And that particular meadow, I have to go through it to get to the rest of the forest. I thought for sure those hoof holes would disappear but it's been so dry the past year or so. They are memorialized there like dino tracks.

But mainly I have this fear of the horse slipping and getting hurt. So that alone is reason enough to wait a week or two (if we get enough precipitation to even make it muddy for a week or two).

If you think about it, going into deep, sucking mud is a very poor strategy for survival. I think it's understanding that horses don't want to do it. And even water........I've had them avoid puddles and inch or two deep. I think horses have very poor depth perception. There is simply no reason for a prey animal to do reckless things for no good reason, so you are fighting their survival instinct. Not that we don't make them do unnatural things all the time, but why make a stand on something that could actually get them hurt? Their life depends on it. They probably think humans are careless and dumb! ;)
 

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Where my horse lives the gelding turnout field has a mud 'lake' that develops in the rainy season. It is mud and water knee deep. The horses have to go through this to get in or out. You will get your mud boots overflowed leading horses out if you dont go carefully along the fenceline. I have seen blanketed horses paw and lie down in this muck. Why do they do this? I told my trainer who was standing there watching Well, Arago crosses water now. She said It is not the same. Moving water with rocks like a stream is a different thing to them, but it helps.
 

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We have very rainy winters. There is a dirt road that people like to go down in the summer. One of my neighbors took her horse down that road and made him go into some deep mud. He sunk so deep that he couldn't get out. Her husband was with her. His horse went around the mud. He had to go back to the house (several miles) and get his tractor and some ropes. The rider had a difficult time getting out too. She came close to drowning.

I think that shallow mud can be ok. But if there is a chance that it is deep, don't do it. If it is muddy, I only ride on familiar territory. I also do not do anything faster than a walk if it is extremely wet. I don't want my horse to fall. I don't want my horse falling on me.

I have already being penned under a fallen horse. It was not fun. Thankfully, neither of us was hurt beyond a few scrapes. I have no idea how I didn't at least get a broken leg. I was still in the saddle when she hit the dirt. She fell flat on her side. With me in the saddle. Just a slip from a nice trot on something slick. Nope. Not again.

We were saved from severe injury because both of us had excess fat and I think a guardian angel was involved.
(Time to forget that new years resolution to become skinny.You need a little padding.)
 

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At least twice in mud and once in deep snow I have been riding and things didn't look too bad until we stepped in and the horse went straight down and my feet were still in the stirrups but resting on the ground. It is a weird feeling. Fortunately the horse was able to get free each time but it sure made me more aware of mud and possible dangers that come with it.

The time in snow I was moving my young 3yr old to a place on the concession behind us to board there as they had an indoor arena; The roads were very slippery so I decided to cut back through the fields.; there was a fair bit of snow but my guy was game and took it in stride, then we came to a gateway and I didn't realize how deep the snow was so asked him to walk through and he got bogged down right to his belly. He was laying on the snow kind of looking back at me to say What Now??? I thought if I got off him I might get bogged down and maybe under his feet so we sat/laid there for a bit then I asked him to try to move forward. A mighty HEAVE and he came out. We went on and there was one last gateway and when we got to it, he had doubts about it but I asked and that good little boy did it. we moved a lot faster this time and it wasn't as deep.
 

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A horse in deep mud will struggle - it is their natural instinct. As a prey animal predators would drive them into deep mud and then attack. We trail ride and have at times encountered really deep mud/clay. We usually try to find a way around if at all possible. Is your daughter experienced enough to stay on the horse if it struggles or lunges to get out of the mud? We as riders need to remember that not everything we ask the horse to do is in its best interest, and the horse knows that. As others have said - if there is reason to cross then do so. If it is just for training them think of other obstacles to use. Riding a floundering horse is truly scary and many riders get hurt when they fall off and the horse strikes them trying to save itself.
 
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