Waste Cleaning Of Horses

Where ever horses are, poop and urine happen.  Daily.  It is the most basic of horse care to clean the areas where they spend time, yet some people skimp on this needed process.  

There are several reasons for cleaning up horse waste but for me, the number one reason is because it is the right thing to do.  No one wants to live in their own waste.  It is necessary to define what “clean” is.  Unfortunately for many this definition is controlled by the amount of money a person wants to spend on labor and bedding.  This doesn’t place the horse as the most important reason for cleaning and that needs to be placed above money and time.  If you own horses you need to remove all soiled bedding and waste at least once a day.

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Where ever horses are, poop and urine happen.  Daily.  It is the most basic of horse care to clean the areas where they spend time, yet some people skimp on this needed process.  

There are several reasons for cleaning up horse waste but for me, the number one reason is because it is the right thing to do.  No one wants to live in their own waste.  It is necessary to define what “clean” is.  Unfortunately for many this definition is controlled by the amount of money a person wants to spend on labor and bedding.  This doesn’t place the horse as the most important reason for cleaning and that needs to be placed above money and time.  If you own horses you need to remove all soiled bedding and waste at least once a day.  

Other reasons to keep the areas clean include:

  • Thermoregulation – If the bedding is wet and the air temperature is cold, the wet ground will transfer the heat from the body to equal the cold ground temperature.  I don’t recommend this experiment because you will get severely burned if you grasp too firmly but…. soak a pot holder in water and then grasp a hot kitchen pan with it.  The heat will immediately transfer from the pan through the wet pot holder and burn your hand.  This is called conduction and moisture is a great conductor of heat.  This simple principle is why I tell people who think a wet pack of bedding insulates the horse laying down in winter.  That is just nonsense.
  • Parasite control  (something you will hear throughout this site) is combated effectively with a clean environment.  Keeping the manure with infective larvae away from the mouth is the principle behind parasite control in humans – yes you and me.  Washing hands, knives and forks and keeping a toilet (outhouse, water closet, restroom, sanitation system) away from the kitchen and dining rooms all prevent infection.  The same applies to horses though 1 type of parasite (ascarid) can glue their eggs onto the wall.
  • Disease control  through fly control is essential.  Keeping the organic matter (horse waste) out of the barn will diminish the attraction of flies.  This is one way to reduce the cause of skin sensitivity to flies as well as the annoyance of flies in general.
  • Hard surfaces  in sub freezing weather occurs when the water laden manure and urine freeze.  Laying down on frozen balls is very uncomfortable.
  • Dirty hair coats – This is tough when keeping show horses as a dirty stall will stain the hair, especially gray or white horses.  This just adds more time loss to a full day.

All manure and urine soaked bedding should be removed once a day and fresh bedding should be added to keep the body away from the filthy floor below.  If the horse is outside on grass then there is no need for cleaning because grass is a living organism.  It will naturally clean itself via bacterial digestion and rain.  Artificial stall floors (dirt, sand, concrete, rubber, etc) are not living and will accumulate foul smelling bacteria on, in or under the surface.  Removing the waste daily helps to keep the organic matter low.

There is no excuse for a dirty stall other than laziness.  Same with a dirty house.  If you are unwilling to lay down in your horse’s stall then it is not clean.  Being your horse’s advocate has it’s not-so-fun moments but listening to audiobooks or podcasts while cleaning stalls, sheds and paddocks helps in two ways at once.  Embrace the cleaning of horse waste as an opportunity to to learn while providing for your horses who didn’t ask to be stalled.

This is the “Shaker” and hearing protection is used when in use – but it’s pretty slick.


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