Meet Lighthoof: A New Solution for Snow Melt Mud
Just what IS Lighthoof, anyway?
Anyone who’s kept horses in areas with winter snowfall is no stranger to the sloppy, terrible mud that plagues paddocks, stall runs, and gateways each year as the snow melts.
Snow melt mud is worse than regular mud because it’s deep, damp, and tends to lay around unevenly in lumpy puddles made by the horses’ hoof prints in the snow. Sometimes it melts all at once, turning weeks of precipitation into mud in one day, and sometimes it melts slowly extending winter as long as miserably possible.
In any case, snow melt mud creates maintenance and horse health problems that dedicated horse-keepers have battled for years, until recently…
In 2012, Lighthoof Equine Mud Management created a patented ground stabilization system for horses and other livestock based on a US Army Corps of Engineers invention from the 1970s.
Lighthoof’s goals were to design a system that would contour to shaped ground, to facilitate drainage and adapt to existing terrain challenges, and hold gravel in place to create a smooth and mud-free surface that could hold up to high-impact hoof traffic.
The result was a network of flexible plastic cells to trap gravel in hundreds of little pockets, which is now available in 6’ x 12’ sections called Lighthoof Panels. Each panel is extruded and welded in Texas from a chemically inert plastic that’s predicted by the Geosynthetic Institute to have a 400+ year lifespan.
Lighthoof is an easy to install, long-term solution for deep mud in difficult, high-traffic horse areas, such as paddocks, stall runs, dry lots, gate areas, pathways, and more. It’s built to withstand truck and tractor traffic for ease of access and can provide erosion control and mud management to very hilly or uneven areas without prior grading or leveling.
The mitigative effect on all types of mud and erosion on horse farms in the years following Lighthoof’s introduction has been huge.
Lighthoof is specifically designed to address catastrophic mud issues in very high traffic horse areas and snow melt mud is one of the biggest problems for so many farms.
Success with New Technology in an Historic Setting
One success story comes from Colorado where The Village Club, a riding, tennis and swim club, houses 35 horses on the grounds of an historic stable build in 1929.
Manager Camille Griffin knew that her staff was spending countless hours digging irrigation trenches, shoveling snow out of the stall runs, and fighting the freeze/thaw cycle of Denver winters. The sand and gravel that had been added continuously to the paddocks to try to get a handle on the mud weren’t holding up long term. Camille knew there had to be a better solution so she researched many different mud control methods before deciding to try Lighthoof for a number of the stall runs.
You can see here in her “before” photos the trouble that the snow melt mud was giving them despite their dedicated efforts to keeping the paddocks cleaned and maintained. The “after” photo shows a Lighthoofed run, a few years old, maintaining traction and drainage for healthy footing with very little effort at all.
She says what sold her on the product was the design and ease of installation. “We’ve been able to install the product with only two of us, it has required almost no maintenance and it has held up exceptionally well. We’ve had it in for two years now and have only needed to add a ‘top coat’ of sand footing to the runs to maintain them. This has saved us a TON of labor as well as saved us the cost of continually needing to add footing to the runs.”
The Village Club staff says that “daily cleaning, particularly in the winter and spring wet seasons, is so much easier and they are able to work more quickly through their daily chores without getting stuck in the muck and mud!”
Camille reports that her boarders were THRILLED with the facility improvements and they were able to create a much healthier environment for their horses to live in.
When faced with persistent and difficult to manage snow melt mud, many more horse owners are now following the lead of this historic farm whose clever use of new equine industry technology saved them from an age old problem.
For more information on how Lighthoof works to combat the most difficult horse paddock mud situations, visit www.Lighthoof.com where you will find videos, details, a project planning kit, and online ordering with free shipping anywhere in the continental US.
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