It cannot be denied that one of the hardest things about owning horses is cleaning up after they defecate. But while this dirty business seems like the last thing you want to do, it’s not something that you should skip.
Aside from hygienic purposes, you’ll be able to tell your horse’s current state of health simply by observing what its poop looks like.
Healthy horse poop is moist but still looks firm enough to form balls of four to eight inches in diameter. It has a glossy surface, which shows that the horse is properly hydrated. And as for the color, it is usually a dark brownish-green or brownish-black.
If you want to learn how to decipher horse poop, you came to the right place. In this article, you’ll read all about identifying what healthy horse poop looks like and what it means when it’s a different color or consistency.
What Is a Normal Horse Poop?
Normal or healthy horse poop is characterized by spherical balls of poop about four to eight inches in diameter with a glossy sheen to it. Its color is either dark brown or dark greenish-brown, which mainly depends on the horse’s diet.
Despite the number of poop balls released by the horse in one go, it does not emit a foul pungent smell that’s often present in other animal manure. Instead, it emits a strong ammonia scent.
Also, the horse poop should not be hard. Horse poop that is hard and cannot be broken up easily is a sign of dehydration.
What Does Your Horses’ Stool Say? | Textures to Look For
- Glossy. Healthy horse stool should look glossy. This is a sign that the horse is healthy and properly hydrated.
- Dull and hard. Horse poop that’s dull, hard, and dry is a sign of dehydration. Once you notice that your horse’s poop no longer has that outer glossiness or is quite hard, this should alert you to increase your horse’s water intake.
- Watery. Watery horse poop is a sign of diarrhea. This may not always be a cause for concern since this may be due to changes in his diet. However, if it persists for days, it’s best to check with your veterinarian since it may already be due to worms or parasites.
- Soft with Worms. At times, you may see worms on your horse’s poop. This may be normal if you have just had your horse dewormed. But if you haven’t, this is a sign that your horse is a host to parasitic worms and needs to be seen by the vet as soon as possible.
- Poop with Undigested Stems or Grass. If you notice undigested stems or grass in your horse’s poop, it’s a sign that he is not chewing his food thoroughly. This may be due to dental issues.
How Much Poop Does a Horse Produce?
A healthy horse defecates around four to twelve times a day. Each time they defecate, they release multiple spherical poops that weigh around 0.5 ounces each. Overall, horses produce about 37 to 55 pounds of manure in a day or about 10 tons of waste each year.
Horse Poop Colors: What Do They Mean?
- Dark greenish-brown. Dark greenish-brown is a healthy color for horse poop. This is a sign that the horse has been grazing and eating fresh pasture.
- Brownish-black or dark brown. This is also a healthy horse poop color. The difference with the poop color above is that horses that defecate brownish-black feces are often fed with dried grass instead of fresh ones.
- Gray. Gray poop may be normal if vegetable oil is added to the horse’s food.
- Reddish-Brown. Horse poop that’s reddish-brown may also be normal if you have been feeding your horse with beets or beet pulp.
- Red. If the horse’s poop is red, then it means that there is blood in its poop. This is often a cause for concern and should alert you to take your horse to the veterinarian immediately.
- Dark black. Another poop color that should alert you to have your horse checked is if it defecates dark black poop. This is a sign of internal bleeding, and it should be treated as soon as possible.
Does Horse Poop Smell Bad?
Horse poop does not smell bad. While it has a strong ammonia smell, horse poop does not emit a foul stench that’s usually present in cat or dog poop. Most people find its smell more tolerable than other fecal matter.
But in any case, horse poop should be cleaned up as soon as possible to prevent it from attracting pathogens and flies.
Possible Causes of Constipation
- Dehydration. When a horse is dehydrated, it passes hard stools. Because the stool is not soft, it takes a while for it to be passed out of the horse’s system.
- Dental Issues. Another possible cause of constipation is if the horse is having dental issues. In this case, the horse is may not be eating enough or is not able to chew his food thoroughly. As a result, the food may not be easily digested and thereby leading to constipation.
- Lack of Movement. When a horse does not move around much, it may affect its circulation, which in turn, also affects its digestion.
- Parasite. Constipation may also be due to parasites. In this case, it’s best to seek medical intervention to ensure your horse’s health.
Possible Causes of Diarrhea
Horses may also experience diarrhea from time to time. This is because they are natural grazers.
As such, they end up ingesting random items that may lead to an upset stomach. In this case, the diarrhea is simply due to a change in the horse’s diet, but it usually just lasts one defecating episode.
However, prolonged diarrhea that lasts for days is not normal. This is often a symptom of stress, or that the horse has been infected by a paradise or a condition like gastric ulcers or inflammatory bowel disease. In this case, the best option is to have your horse checked by a veterinarian.
Can You See Worms in Horse Poop?
It is possible to see worms in horse poop. However, it must be noted that this is not a normal occurrence.
If you ever see worms in horse poop, it may be because it has ingested eggs or larvae from infected grass or hay. It is also common to see worms in horse poop a few days after its regular deworming.
This is possible because worms have a tegument, which is a protective layer that covers the worm’s skin. As a result, worms like flatworms and other parasites pass a horse’s digestive system without being digested easily. This is how you end up seeing worms in horse poop.
Is Horse Poop Toxic?
Horse poop is not toxic to humans. By itself, horse poop is not known to transmit diseases to humans that are exposed to it.
However, if it is not managed properly or it was not cleaned up after a considerable time, it can be a host to disease-causing pathogens. And that makes it harmful to humans.
Is It Illegal to Leave Horse Poo on the Road?
In most jurisdictions, there are no laws requiring horse owners to pick up manure left behind by their horses. Unlike dog poop, horse manure – as long as from healthy horses – does not pose a health risk to humans. It is also not as offensive as far as foul odors are concerned.
However, some states like Massachusetts have issued regulations that require owners of horse-drawn carriages to have a mechanism to catch manure. But at most, these horse owners will only be meted with fines.
How Do You Clean Up Horse Poop?
Because of the amount and frequency by which horses poop in a day, it’s essential that you know how to clean it up to keep it from being a host to pathogens. Fortunately, it’s easy to clean up horse poop.
To do so, simply scoop the horse poop with a shovel and pile it inside a bucket. You can then use the bucket to transport the poop to the compost. In case the horse pooped on a grassy area, you can use a pitchfork or rake to scoop the manure into the bucket.
A convenient option to consider is the ZubyDog Outdoor Dog Poop Trash Can with Lid and Removable Inner Waste Bin. This trash can already comes with a shovel, a rake, and a removable inner waste bin to help you clean up in different environments. The fact that it comes with a lid also makes it a hygienic option.
How Long Does It Take for Horse Manure to Break Down?
Depending on environmental factors, horse manure takes around three to four months to naturally break down – especially when it has already been added into a compost pit.
But, if the manure is simply left in place, it may take around six months or longer. However, for hygiene purposes, it is not ideal to simply leave horse manure since it can become a host to disease-causing parasites and bacteria.
How Old Should Horse Manure Be for Gardening?
Horse poop may be ready for gardening as soon as three to six months. By this time, the nutrients in the manure have already stabilized to provide plants with maximum nutrition. Also, the fertilizer may be potent enough to kill weed seeds by this time.
How Do You Know if Horse Manure Is Composted?
As earlier discussed, horse poop may take a while to be composted. But, it’s quite easy to tell when it has become composted and is ready for gardening.
Bear in mind that horse poop usually has a strong ammonia scent to it. While it is not as pungent or offensive as dog or cat feces, the ammonia smell is still noticeable. Also, remember that horse poop usually looks like four to eight-inch balls with a glossy exterior.
But, once the horse manure has been composted, it loses all of these qualities. Instead of having that strong ammonia scent, the manure will give off a more earthy smell. It also loses its glossiness and structure, making it look more textured and crumbly, like dirt.
You will also notice that the pile seemed to have lost about half of its original contents. And instead of the usual dark brownish-green color, it will have a darker appearance, much like soil.