I’m not going to pretend for a second that I enjoy the seemingly never-ending task of poo picking Starky’s fields. Especially in winter, when the wheelbarrow gets stuck in the mud at the field gate and you are freezing! It is a necessary chore though, that I try to do regularly (except in the very worst weather) and here are a few reasons why your horse and paddock will thank you for it – and you might even enjoy the odd moment!
Say No to Worms – More and more equestrians move towards faecal egg counts to avoid over-use of wormers. Poo picking and good pasture management is a great way to help make sure your horses worm count is as low as can be. It seems pretty obvious that the more hygienic your horses paddock is, the more likely it is that they’ll avoid picking up a worm burden. Healthy horses = happy owners! It also helps with saving the pennies as an egg count is much cheaper than a wormer, so if you don’t need to worm your horse when the results come back then you are on to a winner!
Better Grazing – another clear benefit is that poo picking helps the grass recover quicker. Grass is never going to grow while it is suffocated under piles of horse poo, so clear it away regularly and give it a better chance of recovering. This is particularly important on our winter paddocks, they get trashed so quickly with the weather and enthusiastic horses so any chance we can give them to recover ready for next season seems sensible. The clearer the paddock is, the easier it is for our ponies to find grazing spots. It always amazes me how Starky seems to find something to graze on in the sparsest fields, but I want to give him the best possible chance of finding the good stuff! In the summer, it is also a chance to inspect the fields for ragwort and other field invaders and to get rid of it early.
Flies – writing in January, flies seem like a distant memory, but in summer the struggle is real and they will swarm around the horse poo in your paddocks and bother your horse incessantly. There seems like there’s no getting rid of them, but less poo in your paddocks will certainly help ease the issue!
Spending time with your horse – one of the things I actually enjoy about poo picking is spending time with Starky out in his field. It is great for our bond to spend time around him without wanting anything from him. He gets to choose whether he wants to investigate what I’m doing and spend time around me, or not. He gets to go about his business without seeing me as the annoying human that’s always trying to either clean him or ride him! I might as well make myself useful while I’m out there, especially as in the winter it’s a bit too cold to just stand around. Photos look better when it’s your horse out in a beautiful green field than surrounded by piles of poo as well!
Rider fitness goals – poo picking is surprisingly hard work! Any extra time spent on your feet and on the move is good for general fitness and doing it with a wheelbarrow of horse muck in tow adds a bit of resistance. All good news on the quest for rider fitness. With Starks and I aiming for affiliated dressage this year, I should probably pull my weight on the getting in shape side of things. He has got fit a lot quicker than me this year so I’ve got some work to do if I’m going to play my part in our team!
So there you have it, poo picking may not be the most fun you’ll have in your equestrian life, but it has a lot of benefits for your four legged best friend. That’s how I keep myself motivated when I’m getting covered in mud up to my knees anyway!