Horse Poop
by Becki Bell

You love your horse. You feed him, you groom him, you bring him carrots and horse cookies, you scratch him, and what does he give you in return? 18,000 pounds of manure every single year. Well sure, he lets you ride him too ... but let's not forget all that poop. Nine tons of poop annually. 450,000 pounds of it over the course of his entire life. All of it left there, just for you, so you can rake it up and wheelbarrow it away.

Now you may hate it (unless you're one of those strange people who finds it oddly therapeutic), but either way you should try to keep in mind this fundamental of horse doo-doo: history was not only written from the back of a horse, but also from the back-end of a horse. Yes it's true, that stinky yucky pile of manure you add to every morning (or let's be honest, every week) has a special place in history, just like Spam and the Edsel.

Stinky though it may be (unless you're one of those strange people who finds it oddly fragrant), horse manure is one of the building blocks of history. No, I mean literally. People used to make building blocks out of it, and then they would use those building blocks to build their houses. It was also used as a kind of cheap insulation (horse manure generates heat as it decomposes, so piling it against the side of your house was a disgusting but inexpensive way to keep warm in the winter).

And let's not forget inspirational. Yes, horse poop is also inspirational. Just ask Ezra Pound, Friedrich Nietzsche, Billie Holiday and Hank Williams, who all had surprisingly profound things to say about horse poop—some of which were even poetic (though most weren't). "Humanity ..." says Ezra Pound, "is the waste and the manure and the soil, and from it grows the tree of the arts." Ah, lovely. "You got to have smelt a lot of mule manure before you can sing like a hillbilly," counters Hank Williams. Well, everyone has their own ideas about beauty.

Need some extra cash? That pile of manure in your backyard could be converted into a pile of gold (or maybe just a pile of pennies). If your horse is a champion, try auctioning off his poop on eBay. Why not? Shear L'Eau's poop sold for $1,392 on eBay (he won individual gold and team silver medals at the 2004 Olympics in Athens). Of course, that particular pile of gold medal poop went to charity, not into someone's pocket. If you want some cash for yourself—or to help pay your equine friend's expenses—try composting your manure pile and selling it to gardeners, who treasure the stuff for its use as fertilizer and deer-repellant (that's right, deer don't like the stuff any more than you do).

All of this bears remembering, as you trudge out into the muddy pasture, pitchfork in hand, to perform that most lowly and necessary task that all of us who are lucky enough to live with horses must. Horse poop is more than just the stuff that comes from the back side of your best friend. It's history, poetry and profit. It's fun.

Just keep telling yourself that.

Becki Bell is the author of The Little Book of Horse Poop, which contains a plethora of other fascinating horse poop facts. A fun gift for anyone who has to clean up after a horse. Published by Palfrey Media. www.littlebookofhorsepoop.com.

 

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