OPEN’s Spring Tack Sale is Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., 251 Roupe Road (off Hooker Road). Proceeds benefit rescued horses, minis, ponies (such as the one pictured with grossly overgrown hooves) and donkeys. Western and English saddles, saddle pads, halters, sheets, bits, bridles; western jewelry, clothes, boots and more. (photo by Valerie Jackson)

OPEN’s Spring Tack Sale is Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., 251 Roupe Road (off Hooker Road). Proceeds benefit rescued horses, minis, ponies (such as the one pictured with grossly overgrown hooves) and donkeys. Western and English saddles, saddle pads, halters, sheets, bits, bridles; western jewelry, clothes, boots and more. (photo by Valerie Jackson)

HORSEPLAY: Clean up after yourself and your horse

CLEAN UP ON aisle 7! Remember: Unlike a grocery store clerk who calls an employee over the loudspeaker to clean up a mess in an aisle, you are the only one responsible for cleaning up the mess made by you — and your horse — both on the trail and the parking lot.

Twenty years ago, it didn’t matter as much around these parts if, for example, after finishing your trail ride your idea of cleaning up the brushed-off dirty horse hair and manure around your truck and horse trailer was to simply kick it aside or into the bushes.

When I moved to Sequim in 1997, horse trail parking areas were just a large area of hard-packed dirt; the atmosphere certainly felt more rural and accepting of such droppings. I would ride for hours and not see anyone else on the trail, except, perhaps, those I rode with. That held true, for the most part, on the more populated riding trails, too.

And why not just leave it? After all, horse hair and manure are natural, organic substances (manure is mainly grass and vegetation, and about one-third water, which is quickly absorbed into the ground), biodegradable and could be seen as soil fertilizers. Outdoors, the weather bleaches it all brown; the rain and sun break it down into the soil in about six days.

Horses are not meat eaters like humans, dogs and cats, so their poop (sometimes called horse buns, horse pucky, horse chips or horse hooey) does not spread diseases to people. Unlike the foul-smelling poop of humans, dogs, cats and other domestic meat eaters, horses do not carry viruses or other pathogens that pose risks to humans; there’s no bacterial problems with E. coli, which is killed in sunlight.

Did you know waste left behind by wild animals is actually beneficial to the ecosystem? It’s because those animals typically don’t consume the same nutrient-dense commercial pet foods. When your dog poops, they leave behind waste with high quantities of things like nitrogen and phosphorus that can cause imbalances in living organisms in the natural environment.

So please do scoop the poop and dispose of it in a trash receptacle.

Development

Alas, times have changed. Locally, we’ve seen a steady climb in the population of “city folk,” or those who may have never been exposed to horses and their sweet-smelling “road apples” (yep, it smells sweet to me!).

In fact, you might even hear those “city folk” and their offspring utter words like, “that’s yucky!” or “disgusting!” when coming across a plop of a horse’s recycled grass on a trail.

The change in population and attitudes of the people seem to necessitate we horse (and dog owners) become vigilant about Leave No Trace practices, especially around popular walking trails, such as Robin Hill Park, Dungeness Recreation area (Voice of America), Olympic Discovery Trail, Miller Peninsula and Larry Scott trail.

A manure fork, broom and dustpan are basic tools to include in your horse trailer, and they make for easy cleanup around your trailer. Place all the debris back inside your trailer (it won’t hurt your horse to stand on it) to dispose of at home. It is important to be aware of your surroundings, to be kind and considerate to others, and to help them maintain a positive viewpoint toward shared trails with horse riders.

So why don’t more horse riders stop to kick manure off the side of those more-populated trails? For one thing, riders are sitting on the horse facing forward, toward the horse’s head. Horses poop from their rear end, and they can do so while walking, so unless the rider is facing backward, they often don’t know when their horse is pooping.

Hate to say it, but even if the transgression is noticed, there are lots of riders, such as myself, who are older and have badly compromised and/or arthritic joints, so lacking a tall stump or stepping block, dismounting to kick manure off the trail is near impossible. While there are portable mounting aids available, they are often difficult to maintain one’s balance on.

I do agree that, since some find it unpleasant to happen upon horse poop on walking trails and other public places, it is good manners to stop and get the pile out of the way — especially if it’s on a shared trail or parking lot.

Hence, I implore any younger riders, nay, I beseech them — and all who are capable of easily dismounting and remounting their horse — to please do so as a favor to us challenged by the act. We thank you greatly for such a selfless and generous act!

________

Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Saturday of each month.

If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at kbg@olympus.net at least two weeks in advance. You can also call her at 360-460-6299.

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