Lots of us cannot wait to get out on the roads walking, running and cycling, horseback riding and downhill mountain biking.
Inevitably this time of year my mind drifts to why as a society it is still acceptable to leave big piles of horse manure on the roads and trails we love to use. These are multi-use streets and trails there for everyone to enjoy.
Dog owners keep the parks and trails clean, for the most part, and many have bags available that greatly help with this. Bylaws dedicated to proper dog poo etiquette have certainly helped. It was once commonplace to dump bed pans and garbage in the streets, but as a society we moved on from that. Isn’t it time people start picking up the horse manure too?
People will argue that horse manure isn’t harmful to humans. But the health implications aren’t really the point. No one wants to step in the stuff with their boots or shoes, especially during the wet spring months. Downhill mountain bikers don’t want a spray of yellow-green poo up their backs, and personally I know I don’t like the underside and wheel wells of my car needing to be cleaned before I do an oil change or swap on the summer tires.
The solution is quite easy. It only takes a minute to dismount, kick the manure to the side of the trail where it will do the most good as fertilizer, and then remount and continue on. If, like most people, the thought of manure on your boots isn’t appealing, another simple solution is to carry a collapsible, or camping shovel as they’re labeled at most sporting goods stores. They come with a carrying case that can be attached to the back of any saddle. Once the shovel has been used, stab it into fresh soil to clean the surface, fold and store. Just like it is expected that a dog owner has a doggie bag, it should be a necessity for horse owners to have a small shovel (or another way of dealing with manure while in public). People spend many thousands of dollars on clothing, tack, and feed. What’s another $20?
My point is that everyone, no matter their activity of choice, gets to enjoy the same clean streets and trails as everyone else. And my hope is that this doesn’t come across as ‘finger pointing,’ but as a way to start a dialogue. Let’s leave public spaces as we would like to find them.
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