Horse Manure Is No Laughing Matter
By Bonnie Davis
Over the years of trail riding and horse camping I've noticed that many horse owners have an attitude towards horse manure. An attitude that they don't have to pick it up or clean up after their horses. Granted, there are times when one doesn't have to pickup the manure. No one has to follow a horse around in a pasture and pick up each pile as deposited. Or even clean out their own horse trailer if they don't want to. But there are times when horse manure HAS TO BE CLEANED UP!! It can't be left where it falls.
One such place is at trail heads and in staging areas. I'm not sure why some horse owners simply clean out a trailer and leave the manure where it falls. Or leave that fresh pile of horse poop lying in the middle of the parking lot and even on sidewalks. The only reason I can think of for this attitude of manure lies where it falls is that horse owners love their horses. And in doing so, overlook some of the not so loved aspects of horse ownership.
Well, I hate to burst your bubble but I'm going to tell you something that your parents or even your best friend has never told you. YOUR HORSE'S MANURE STINKS!! It smells. Flies walk all over it. And when it gets stepped in, it squishes and tracks everywhere. And YOUR horse's manure in a parking lot, a trail head, at a staging area and even on a trail is one of the reasons trails are BEING CLOSED to me and other riders. And I for one am getting darn tired of it!! In fact, at a trail head on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) there was so much horse manure in the parking lot I would have helped the ranger lock the gate to horsemen because it was disgusting!! I didn't even want to have my horse walk in it any less me or anyone else.
Horse manure seems to be a laughing matter with some folks. It's just biodegradable, chewed up straw and grain. What's the big deal? The big deal is that OTHER trail users don't look at it in that manner. To them, it's horse poop, manure, s**t!! And if we don't start cleaning up after our horses, we won't find it such a laughing matter when gates are locked to us and trails closed.
Sure, there are those cases where cleaning up a horse has gone to the extreme. But I'm not referring to those cases. I'm referring to the person who has a nice ride, comes back to the staging area, cleans two or three piles out of the trailer, loads up the horse and goes home. The horse manure is still in the parking lot. When actually all the person would have had to do is put it in a garbage bag and take it home. And in some parking lots there are even dumpsters to put manure in, and horsemen still won't clean up. At the above PCT trail head there is not only a dumpster for "Horse Manure Only" but two or three wheelbarrows, a couple shovels and brooms to help with the clean up. And still horse owners leave the manure in that parking lot!!
Every horse trailer should have a shovel, rake and a good stiff broom in it for cleaning up horse manure along with a box of heavy duty garbage bags, style is up to you. Me, I use the heavy black ones and when half full close 'em and put the bag into a heavy duty cardboard box that I've cut a couple handholds in so it's easier to carry. The box keeps the bag from drooping plus its easier to carry. When I get back to the barn, I put the manure in the manure pile or take it home and put it in my compost pile. The box will sit in the tack room of the trailer, the back of a towing vehicle and I've slide it into my camper too. Open a few windows afterwards and you'd never know a box of horse manure had been sitting there.
As for that black garbage bag, just turn it over and grab the top edges pulling them up and letting the manure fall out. The bag will be inside out then. Shake it off, put it on the trailer fender with a rock on it to dry and then reuse it again! You can get three or four uses out of one garbage bag. (My record is six.)
We horse owners are the most visible when in a staging area and on the trail with our towing rigs, trailers and horses. And in some areas even after we've left the staging areas other trail users can still tell we've been there by the number of horse manure piles laying around the parking lot. Remember, if it came with your horse it should go home with your horse, and that includes horse manure!!
Submitted by member John Schulte and reprinted with permission from the May/June 2004 issue of The Trail Rider magazine.
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