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Horse Manure on Trails

Horse manure is not the same as humans, cats or dogs.  Many in our society are so far removed from interaction with large animals that when a person sees horse manure on a trail they are likely to have a strong reflexive response of “YUK!”  People apply what they learn about their own excrement, or their carnivorous pet, (YUK!) to horses.
   

We can only use our imagination to try to comprehend all of the birds, geese, deer, squirrel, coyote, fox, ground hogs and rabbits who go about pooping where they want on the prairies and woodlands. Not to mention all the fish, turtles and crustaceans who leave their excretions behind in our creeks, rivers, lakes and ponds. When we give the topic a good think we can see that horse manure on a trails is a drop in the bucket when it comes to poop.

FACT:  All living things make manure.

Even trees drop their leaves and needles and flowers die back to biodegrade. People make manure; millions of sparrows make manure and everybody you will see today makes manure. In fact, if a living being stops making manure, he is soon dead. All horse manure is biodegradable – if you leave it on the trail long enough it becomes dirt. 

FACT:  Horse manure is recycled grass.

Horses eat a limited diet; they are strict vegetarians and turn up their noses at anything more exotic than a carrot. If you’ve seen a clump of grass fall out from a mower deck, then you know it looks about the same as horse manure, perhaps a little smaller.

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Horse manure contains 88% water.
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Horse manure completely dries up and disappears in less than 21 days.

FACT:  Horse manure does not spread disease – It is completely harmless.

Horses are dead end hosts, just as are humans for EEE, WEE and West Nile Virus. They do not spread Salmonella, Giardia or Cryptosporidium. Deer, however, do spread the deer tick that is responsible for Lyme disease; mice are responsible for Hantus virus.

FACT:  Doesn’t require removal (like dog feces)

Dog feces can carry common diseases that can be transmitted to people such as giardia, roundworms, salmonella, and Ecoli. In addition, a dog can spread or contract parvovirus or coronavirus through infected feces.  All of these diseases are very serious and common. While many in society think poop is poop and it should all be removed, it is simply not practical, nor necessary to remove horse manure. Birds, rodents, and weather will help disperse the manure over until is virtually unrecognizable. Walk around it, through it, or wait a couple days and it will disappear.

Sources:  EnviroHorse, Cyla Allison, PhD & Horse Manure on Shared Trails, Anne O’Dell

 
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