New Muddy Footing Solution from Germany

I recently learned about this new type of Mud Control mat/slab from a posting in the Horse Human Bond Facebook group. A member had shared her recent experience with these new interlocking slabs on a muddy pathway in her horse pasture. Vanessa O wrote:

“A few months ago we were discussing mud control mats on here. I purchased 10 sq mts as a trial. Put them down in a muddy gateway with no surface prep. They just clip together and it must have taken about 20 mins for two of us to put them down. Here are the results, they are absolutely fantastic. Wet clay soil, 6 horses of various weights walking over them. Will definitely be getting more of these. These are made from recycled plastic in Germany. They are quite heavy but are absolutely idiot proof to put down. I did absolutely no ground prep at all just put them down on the already wet ground in January. I’ve had a very large Friesian thundering over them and they do not move. Hubby has driven his tractor over them too.”

Close up of the surface Vanessa laid her mats on

More of Vanessa’s mats after a few months
Close-up of how the mud can push through the holes, so needs to be scraped off every few weeks.

Well Vanessa’s experience was intriguing enough for me to look deeper into this option. Especially since I am prepping a new area to be turned into a well-drained paddock surface plus I’m going to be putting in a gravelled track system; so my horses can come in and out of any sheltered area without having to stumble through 18-inches of mud.

The UK distributor for this product, Kerry Weisselberg, does plenty of experiments with her own herd of 5 horses in a climate as rainy as mine, so here’s some more info from her posts about Mud Control INB grids:

“The Mudcontrol INB slabs are 100% recycled plastic and fit together to give a stable, instant ‘hard standing’ on top of even the worst mud. They won’t pull apart or sink into the mud, they are so well designed that they even float on water (in spite of weighing 7kg per slab) and they are certified to withstand 60+ tonnes. They are 50cm square (4 slabs in a square metre).

I have had them down in my clay fields since September and they don’t move, they are rock solid, and the horses choose to hang out on them. They are stamped on top with a double nub pattern to give grip, and can be laid without a sub-base, just on top of the mud, or on sand if you want to ensure a level surface when the mud is difficult to level out.

The slabs are rock hard (you can saw them and hammer a nail into them) so you won’t damage them. I scrape the mud off mine (as it pushes through the holes) with a snow shovel or a metal shovel.”

Freshly laid slabs; then 2 months later

What do they look like if you don’t scrape them clean in heavy mud?

“I took this photo today of slabs which have been down since September (it is now March), in daily use (5 horses and ponies on and off them), and not scraped clean for about 6 weeks or so, as a test. They haven’t moved and they haven’t sunk.”

Not cleaned off for 6 weeks – used by 5 horses

“With sloppy mud like this, the horses will carry some mud on, and some will squish up through the holes, so it will need scraping or brushing to keep the top clear. But they will not sink into the mud. They float on water, as you can see in the next pic. They won’t sink, they slot together and stay in place.”

Original deeply muddy walking track – before slabs are laid
As you can see, the slabs float in water

This is the same walking track a few weeks later:

The same track after a few weeks of usage

“This next photo was taken this morning of the slabs I laid about 6-8 weeks ago on heavy clay. They have had 3 big horses and two ponies on and off them every day, and only been scraped clear every few weeks. Obviously we have had a lot of snow and rain on them since then; a lot of mud!”

7 weeks of usage on heavy clay by 5 horses

What do these cost?

I’m not sure what the US$ price is on these, but you can check with the US distributor through their Facebook page, INB System USA. Not sure why, but the Mud Control grids are not listed on their website, only on this Facebook page.

The current UK price for these slabs/grids is UK5.50 per slab or UK22.00 per square metre (4 slabs) plus VAT.

So if I convert that to US$, it works out to US$7.25 per grid and US$29 per square metre

Of course, the next thing I want to do is to run some numbers to see if this solution would be cheaper than using my traditional paddock footing

1 acre = 4047 square metres

The area I need to prepare is about 1/4 of an acre, which would be 505.5 square meters. So to use these grids to cover that area would cost me about $14,659.00. Wait. What??

To be fair, the Pros of this solution are that I could do it myself (with some help) and no equipment rentals needed. And since I’m leasing this land, at least I would be able to take my investment with me. But still. To use my current method is going to cost me $2,600.00 – which is less than 20% of the cost of these plastic slabs. Then of course there is the fact that they are plastic – which I try to stay away from consuming. Yes, I know they’re recycled plastic, but sooner or later (20+ years), they’re going to break, and then what? Most likely they’ll be dumped in a landfill somewhere – unless you’re willing to dig them out, pressure-hose them clean and take them to a recycling centre. Which is certainly possible!

I am now mystified as to why people on some of these Facebook posts are claiming these are a cheaper solution to using layers of drainage rock, gravel, etc? Perhaps they are not running their numbers to find out? Or, perhaps they are only needing to cover one or two small areas, so the Bobcat/tractor rental then makes it more expensive for them…

I also wonder if there’s a psychological component at work here? These grids feel easy-breezy DIY. Hiring an excavator, arranging rock/gravel delivery, hiring a Bobcat or skid steer to spread the gravel – and coordinating them all can be a bit daunting! I’ve done it four times now and it still feels like a big, difficult job to me.

I think possibly the best application for these would be small areas that you would normally try to use rubber mats on (which don’t work at all, they just sink), where it’s just not worth the money to hire the Bobcat. Maybe you just have one pathway, or the area around your slowfeeder. That’s when I can see this being a great solution. Or, if you want to just do a small bit at a time, according to what you can afford. Because these grids lock together, you can start with just 12-16 slabs to start (or test) and then gradually add more as you can afford it.

And yes, there are a number of other recycled plastic grid solutions like TrueGrid and Eco GreenGrid, but none of them float the way Mud Control INB does – that’s what makes it unique. Let us know if you try this solution and how it goes for you…

New Muddy Footing Solution from Germany

9 thoughts on “New Muddy Footing Solution from Germany

  • March 10, 2019 at 9:26 pm
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    It is not about the ground but the horse hooves. I have heard of Hoof Armor. Do you have any experience of it?

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    • March 10, 2019 at 10:28 pm
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      Yes very true and some horses have no problems in a lot of mud. But I have noticed that, if given a choice, they will often prefer to stand on the drier ground and eat. No, I haven’t used Hoof Armor.

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        • March 12, 2019 at 7:55 pm
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          Yes, but Hoof Armor is still a synthetic plastic-family product. They won’t disclose the detailed ingredient list but “epoxy” means glue and Kevlar is also a type of polymer plastic:

          “Hoof Armor’s ingredients are a trade secret, but it is essentially a non-toxic epoxy base. The main ingredients of this formula are approved by the U.S. FDA for contact with food, another ingredient is a powerful, natural anti-microbial / anti-bacterial agent; and, of course, a lot of Kevlar® the inert bulletproofing material ”
          http://www.hoofarmor.com/faq/

          It’s getting harder and harder to stay away from plastics in our world! I’m just as guilty as anyone.

          Personally, I wouldn’t use Hoof Armor on my herd because it would prevent them from self-trimming their hooves, which they’ve gotten quite good at. I also don’t even wear nail polish myself. 🙂

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          • March 16, 2019 at 3:17 pm
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            I very much agree with your response Jini and I understand that it’s not something you need. I wasn’t suggesting that just because horses are in mud often that this would be THE answer. But hoof armor could be a temporary option for protecting hoofs that are in and out of mud a lot if they have cracks or other issues. It isn’t really meant to be for FOREVER use but ideally as a transitioning tool from shoeing to barefoot or for another supportive reason 🙂

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            • March 17, 2019 at 12:38 am
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              Ah gotcha! And yes, very good points. Their website promotes it as a long-term option, but I like your idea of support or as a transitioning tool much better! Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and experience xo

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  • March 15, 2019 at 5:54 pm
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    I am following this with great interest. I will be receiving conservation grant funds from our conservation district. They want to keep mud down and limit manure in the groundwater. They use Hoofgrid aka Stabiligrid installed over a scraped base, layer of gravel, grid which is filled with gravel, then covered with footing. It is expensive to install but very effective in heaviest use areas by gates, water troughs, feeders, etc. I will be needing to take mud control measures in other places and am not sure what route I’ll take. Lighthoof is another similar product. I know a number of people who have laid down road grade geotextile and covered it with gravel. I’d be interested to know what your original plan was, and the cost of this stuff. (Will look at their FB page.)

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    • March 16, 2019 at 1:02 pm
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      In what used to be ankle deep mud in the winter for the horses, we’ve scraped the dirt ground when it’s not mud in the summer then put down pit run. It will set up all on its own. Then later we’ve added pea gravel on top specifically for the purpose of developing the feet by allowing the frog to be in contact with the ground, and therefore stimulated. Feet have improved and there’s no more mud, and it’s been several years.

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    • March 18, 2019 at 12:18 am
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      I think that the footing depends on HOW wet/muddy your areas get. I recently met a fellow who does all the horse trails in the riding parks around here. So in addition to what I have done (and what Mary outlined here that she does), he also lays down an industrial grade barrier of Nylex after clearing the soil down to hard pan. THEN he lays 3″ minus rock, then 3/4″ minus gravel, then crusher (1/4″ minus on top). This withstands the Pacific Northwest deluge with dozens of horses per day on these trails. I am hiring him to put in a track system for my paddock area (so the horses can enter and exit at all points and around to the next entrance/exit, without going in mud) plus a new paddock area. So I will film that and post it here – he said best time to scrape down to hard pan is usually in June. My place gets anywhere from 12-30″ of mud – the horses were getting sprained legs plunging in and out of it when being driven out of the barn by a dominant horse!

      And btw, getting a grant to pay for your gravel etc is freakin’ brilliant! How lucky are you 🙂

      Reply

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