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If it helps, my area is Upstate South Carolina. Them creeks be tricky.

Now, I have tried to find information about this, but can't seem to find much, if anything. I have gotten my own horse and my BM's horse stuck in mud above their bellies. This is terrifying, and ever since, I have been afraid to cross a creek that I normally cross to get to the fun trails. I have had a lot of rain in the past few months, so where this crossing used to be safe is now very eroded. I will post a picture of it as soon as I get the chance. I also tried to cross in another area, by dismounting and leading my horse across. He sunk up to USIG below his hocks, so I called it quits and got him out of there before it got worse.

My horse is very brave. He'll try to cross anything I ask him to. That is the problem. Obviously, I am bad at telling whether or not it is safe to cross. I don't ever want us to get stuck again, so I want all the advice I can get from you guys! I also think that this may help other people a lid making the same bad calls that I did.

My boyfriend and I are going to build a "ramp" to make the crossing safe again. I'll add pictures of the bad part once I can. It's definitely a summer project!

So, tell me all of your advice and experiences with shady crossings! I want to learn as much as I can so that I can be confident about my decision making and so that I don't EVER endanger a horse's life like that again.

I know that if I can see the bottom of the creek/river/stream and there are pebbles, it's usually safe. And that trying to cross from a steep bank is usually a bad idea. But that is about all I have going for me. :(
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I got a mare I had almost stuck once. I gave her head and held on while she got us out of it. It is scary, we had to cross back because we lost the trail. I dismounted for the return trip. I am not sure what to tell you. Most of the time I go on established trails and so it is pretty clear what is safe to cross. The time that I mentioned before the trail had turned and we had missed it.
 

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I got a mare I had almost stuck once. I gave her head and held on while she got us out of it. It is scary, we had to cross back because we lost the trail. I dismounted for the return trip. I am not sure what to tell you. Most of the time I go on established trails and so it is pretty clear what is safe to cross. The time that I mentioned before the trail had turned and we had missed it.
That's really scary! I'm glad you got out okay! The BM's mare was stuck for almost an hour, both hind legs submerged in mud. The BM and another boarder came out on a four wheeler and were worried that they'd have to call the fire department :/ My horse almost got stuck then, too, but he is taller and stronger, so he managed to get out before he sunk too deep. The little mare had no chance of getting out without some kind of help, and luckily we were able to do some of the work for her. I have pictures of that incident, too. I was strangely calm during the whole thing, and within five minutes of trying to encourage her to get out, I knew I had to call the BM, so I did. My friend actually fell off and into the creek and displaced her axis vertebra (or sprained it or something) from the impact. Luckily nothing too serious, and we both had our helmets on. I felt like a dump for many weeks afterwards. If I had been more careful, it wouldn't have happened. :(

Good job with you and your mare! Panic makes everything worse.
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I broke a couple of ribs when a young horse I was on went down in a bog. As he thrashed I came off and ended up underneath him and got stepped on.

Once when crossing a very small stream in the San Rafael area of Utah, The first 4 horses crossed just fine, The 5th horse dropped out out sight and buried his front end in quick sand that just gave out after the first four horses. The rider did a flip over the head of the horse and landed flat on his back in 2" of water, Horse was able to back out and un bury his head. But we had to clean out his eyes, ears and nostrils.



In our area of the world, Quick Sand is what worries me the most. Since we are riding in desert area, We don't see lots of water or really deep water, So it's always a surprise when there is no bottom.

I do cross lots of larger rivers with no problems.




 

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Painted--Just wanted to say those are beautiful photos.

Subbing, as I am curious too!
 

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If I am crossing somewhere that I haven't crossed before and it looks shady I have gotten off my horse to test it. We were going to cross an area that looked soft. It wasn't really standing water but we didn't want to bog down our horses as this area we had never crossed before.

I went to walk on it and sunk down over the top of my freaking boots so we were pretty dang sure taking horses that weighted as much as 1200 lbs with rider and gear wasn't going to be a good thing. We went around.

Footwear Leg Riding boot Tree Boot

I have got off several places to check to make sure it would support the horses before crossing. Some you will not know until you try - I have only bogged Biscuit down ONCE and it wasn't crossing a stream. We just hit a soft spot on the side of a hill and suddenly he and Sarge were literally up to their bellies galloping in place...not a fun place to be in. We have had to ride miles around soft areas in Sam Rayburn because you can just be riding along if you are off the trail and sink down to hock level. Ugh. Dead trees often leave deep holes!! Tree is gone - hole is not!

Know your area and the type of terrain is always good. I got off checking a crossing in Kisatchie Forest in Louisiana for that reason. We weren't familiar so we checked it out and for the best way to cross it as it wasn't really a trail.

Good luck and safe trails...and better safe than sorry is always good even if you have to go around.
 

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This is a really good topic. Where I live we have quick sand around the river as well. I have heard more stories than I can retell about horses needing to get pulled out by trucks etc.

The only time I got into trouble I was actually a fair distance from the river in an area that looked dry and sandy. But my horse took a few steps and his back end started sinking. It happened so fast but he reared up and spun around and leaped right out of it. Once I felt him sinking I just gave him his head and let him take care of it. I recount this only to say that the danger extends well beyond the river's edge.

I will only enter a river if the bank is rocky. Sandy and muddy are too risky for me. But if the bank is rocky and the slope into the river gradual then I assume the ground is dense enough for the rocks not to sink and I will approach carefully.

Besides mud really be careful about jetty jacks. Where I am they are all over the place and you can't always see them. They also usually have thick cable strung between them which would create a disaster if your horse were to get caught.

If it's a crossing I want to attempt I usually wait until summer get a picnic lunch and a swim suit and try it my self to see what the footing and obstacles are then try it with the horse if it's OK. Do this every year as the rivers change seasonally.

Also I am sure you already know this don't cross water with a tie down on. Some people even advise taking off breastplate/ breastcollars as well.

Have fun! Riding in the river is a blast :)
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I broke a couple of ribs when a young horse I was on went down in a bog. As he thrashed I came off and ended up underneath him and got stepped on.

Once when crossing a very small stream in the San Rafael area of Utah, The first 4 horses crossed just fine, The 5th horse dropped out out sight and buried his front end in quick sand that just gave out after the first four horses. The rider did a flip over the head of the horse and landed flat on his back in 2" of water, Horse was able to back out and un bury his head. But we had to clean out his eyes, ears and nostrils.



In our area of the world, Quick Sand is what worries me the most. Since we are riding in desert area, We don't see lots of water or really deep water, So it's always a surprise when there is no bottom.

I do cross lots of larger rivers with no problems.




Oh, to dare to dream :lol:. Crossing a river without a bridge is a "pipe dream" down here :lol: (something you might do in an opium induced dream :lol:). If you're lucky you "might" find a sand bar that's shallow enough ride out on and "might" extend half way across a river before dropping off to a 12' depth for the rest of the distance with a steep bank of the opposite side.
Here, if we don't have a bridge we can't cross the river without facing a major risk of losing the horse (unless it's in the upstate where the river begins so it's narrow and shallow enough).
 

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The only advice I can give is to let your horse choose where to cross or go. They have a better sense of what the ground is like.

We were riding along the river and went to cross a drainage ditch for the farm field. I got across fine but my wife was having issues with getting her horse to cross where she wanted. We were at different spots but not far apart. Her horse fought with her to not go there. He ended up sinking to his belly. If we couldn't get him out, we weren't sure what we would do since we were too far from any road and in trees. He finally got himself out with us digging him out a little by hand.
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Oh, to dare to dream :lol:. Crossing a river without a bridge is a "pipe dream" down here :lol: (something you might do in an opium induced dream :lol:). If you're lucky you "might" find a sand bar that's shallow enough ride out on and "might" extend half way across a river before dropping off to a 12' depth for the rest of the distance with a steep bank of the opposite side.
Here, if we don't have a bridge we can't cross the river without facing a major risk of losing the horse (unless it's in the upstate where the river begins so it's narrow and shallow enough).
We're in the same boat here. If there isn't a bridge, no river crossing. The river bottom and banks are too soft and muddy. Creaks that are only a foot or two wide aren't bad.

I would love to have a few rivers like painted horse had in the pics.
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Crossing unknown water can be very scary and dangerous. I always try to cross water where I know it's safe. However, that is not always possible. I try to cross at areas where I see ripples in the water. Moving water will tend to "wash" the area and keep silting at a minimum.

I cross water at the hunt. I always hang back to see what problems others have before I commit myself and my horse. :twisted:





 

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I was the third horse in line crossing a little piddly stream in the Apishapa canyon in southern Colorado. The bottom was gravel and you could almost jump across. The first two made it fine and my gelding went down to his belly following in the same tracks. My horse panicked and bucked his way out of it. But now we were on the wrong side and had to recross to get back to the trailer. We did without incident however. I talked to a rancher that had cattle in the canyon and he told me that he would haze some cows ahead of him and cross where they did because they knew where the bad spots were.
An interesting thread.
 

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Yep, My problems have always been the little small streams, and you usually get the 1st or 2nd horse across. The horses that have problems are the ones crossing after the mud gets pumped up.

I do try to cross where I see natural fords. Places where the cattle have crossed a lot or where the trails naturally cross




On the bigger rivers, The Fords are usually very rocky and you can see the trail enter and exit on either side.




 

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wow, you guys have some awesome riding places. *envy!*

were I am, some of the creeks look ok, but they are made of what we call 'gumbo'. i am sure you can imagine what that's like. horses get stuck enough to need a tractor pull them out. so I am leary. and I am usually riding alone, so doubly careful.

my guy will cross a creek that is nice and wide that we can both see is a nice solid bottom. my problem is those skinny one with higher banks--he won't step into them, he jumps. which isn't a bad thing, but its how high he goes is my problem. he goes up so high and lands like a truck from a cliff. it hurts!

any idea how to make him do that nice little hoppy jump some horses do instead of his massive launch?? for now, i just get off and and he does his thing, I jump on and we go.
 
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