Calling All Ghost Riders

Trail Riding is the largest and fastest growing equine activity in the U.S. and abroad. That means that our trailheads are getting a lot of use!

Think about the trailhead for your favorite trails to ride on a sunny weekend for a moment. What’s the parking situation? Are piles of manure lying about?

If there are you may be in danger of losing your favorite  riding spot.

nohorseLet’s face it; people who leave manure in the parking or even worse sweep out their trailer before heading home, are advertising that the horse world is full of slobs, and adding fuel to the argument that equines should be banned from the trails.

I recently rode at Riverside State Park in Spokane, WA where local equine groups have created a wonderful trail system, arena, and even a trail obstacle course. It’s a great place to ride. And it’s quite popular.

When I pulled into the parking area the beauty of the green ponderosa pines contrasting against the brilliant blue sky inspired me. The sight of multiple piles of brown manure juxtaposed against the white gravel was less motivating. “Unsightly”, “nasty”, and a few other choice words went through my mind before I settled on “sad”.

cleanupIn a world where places to ride are becoming more restricted it’s a shame that someone would treat it so disrespectfully. Our continued ability to enjoy these areas is a privilege, not a right. Unless we as a group become much better stewards we’ll have only ourselves to blame as more and more areas are permanently closed to horses.

If you leave manure at the trailhead; who do you think will clean up after you? How about toss it back in the trailer, or bring along a muck bucket, pick up the poo and take it home with you? Your garden and everyone else that you share the trail with will appreciate it.

If you choose not clean up after yourself, fine, we wont hate you. We will however lump you into the group of people that should be inside eating cheesy puffs instead of on the trails.

No Poop Here!
No Poop Here!

If you don’t make a habit of leaving an area worse than you found it. Thank you. Please continue your good work and please educate others to do the same.

Preserving our trails for the future is possible with just a little bit of common sense courtesy.

For more information on being a good trail steward visit the TrailMeister column in the Oct. 2010 issue of The Northwest Horse Source. Ghost Riders on the Trail – A Leave No Trace (LNT) Primer for Trail Riders

  • Steph

    i don’t understand why people freak out so much about manure. It’s mostly grass and birds pick it apart and it disintegrates pretty easily. At least it’s not trash.

    • Gael O’Brien

      Because, aside from being smelly and unsightly, it can also spread disease and worms.

      And it’s not going to vanish so quickly on a parking lot unless it’s raining. It’s going to get smeared all over the place, get on tires, and who knows where from there.

      Poop is considered a biohazard for a reason.

      • Amy Meighan

        No it does not spread disease and worms and it’s totally biodegradable. The birds eat the the digested product which consisted of hay…a grass! I agree that it shouldn’t be left in the parking lots but on the trail you can clean it off to the side and it’s not going to hurt anything since most of us also feed weed free hay…I grow that! Let’s not be completely’s horse poop and smells just fine!
        And it’s not going to hurt your tires, hahaha, you must be ocd and doubt have animals! We’re outside! Get a life!

        • APRandom

          My wife was bitten by a fly that had flown up from a pile of horse crap, and her hand became swollen and infected, requiring a doctor visit. Toilet train them, or use horse diapers.

          • Amy Meighan

            Well I’m sorry to hear that but since I’m around them all the time, I’m on a ranch, and in 50 plus years have never had that happen, nor anyone I know…retired Air Force I know a lot of folks globally, your wife may have an allergy she is not aware of. I am not having my horses wear diapers…you must be a city boy. btw my organic garden is mostly horse and chicken poo…I’m 70, ride most days, most folks think I’m 50…must be doing something right…its all that horse shit, hahahah.

    • APRandom

      Not all of us have been raised in a barn. The smell blots out natural smells. “At least it’s not trash.” LOL Give me a break. There are bacteria, etc, that break down human feces, too. Should I leave that in the middle of the trail?

      • Amy Meighan

        Raised globally, hardly a barn. We moved by continent…you sound like you have a very narrow vision of this planet. If you want to poop in the middle of the trail be my guest won’t bother me. You’ve never lived in Japan or the PI I take it.

      • Tenkiller7

        I’m sorry but I have to chuckle at this–horse poo is about as natural as you can get! It’s the out of doors and there are going to be lots of smells out there. Some you’ll like, some not so much. That’s just nature.

    • Amy Meighan

      Spot on Steph….O’Brien sounds like he’s never spent much time out of the city.

  • APRandom

    Lifelong hiker, backpacker reporting: I remember, before the mountain bike, the hiker versus horse controversy in Wilderness management. As a backpacker, I have had to walk through a hundred yards of manure on a couple occasions. It seems that whenever one member of a pack train decides to take a dump, they all do it. The smell completely blocks the smells of nature. If I were to do that in the middle of a trail I’d be arrested. Not to mention the fact that horses are the heaviest trail user, and their metal shoes pound the trails and campsites into rocks and dust. When the trail gets too rocky, the horse moves to one side, creating a braided trail. I see this time and time again in the so-called “Wilderness.” I don’t know how many times the only flat place to camp has an inch of dust on the surface and horse manure scattered all around. Disgusting. If you can’t toilet train them, please use a diaper. Thank you.

    • Rob

      I have seen people on the highways “taking a dump” – hen you go camping into the wilderness, what do you do when nature calls? Do you bring a diaper and then pack it out? Sounds like you need to stay in the concrete jungle, what about all the other animals that leave poop in the forest, I think if you can’t find a campsite that isn’t flat and clean, then you must not get that far off the trail, I call BS and maybe you should have some cheese with that wine. 😂😂

      • Kathy

        Wow, vitriol, and passion.
        So, we all want to be outside, good for us. Hikers and horses can live together, and mostly do (that’s not meant to be a pun). Yes, there is a ways to go, but let’s make it easy… equestrians, clean up your parking areas and your camp sites. I’m a trail rider, and I don’t want to camp with your horses old poo. Seriously. I dont.
        It is different out on the trail. (AP RANDOM’s experiance with yards of poop is the same place sounds like a pack string of mules…and yes they do all go in the same place and together if it is a route they travel constantly, like an outfitters string. It can be bad. For the most part, a horse walking a trail will “spread” the pile and won’t have that much impact. Really. Its grass, the same kind of wads that you clean out from under your lawnmower. (well, kinda) which will also draw flies until it composts.
        I hope Ya’ll have a lovely day. And I hope you take the time to lend a hand and volunteer out on some trail maintenence jobs. THAT IS WHERE THIS PASSION CAN BE DIRECTED – Use it for GOOD!

  • Kirsten Charlebois

    I don’t normally comment on articles, but with this one, I thought I should point out another view of this issue. I have ALS, my horse is my life. I can not mount or dismount unless I have my mounting steps. My mounting of course is not something I can carry with me and my horse. So unfortunately when I ride alone, I can not mount or dismount to clean up when Odin poops. So sometimes there is more to the story and its best not to assume. I live for riding and it keeps me going. Hope this helps in having people not always judging. 😊

  • Rob

    Do the cattle ranchers grazing cows on public lands for pennies an acre, clean up all there manure? What about Wild horses? Who’s going to clean up after the deer, elk, birds, coyotes etc? What do you use in your garden to grow things? Have you ever seen bear scat, I’ll take horse manure any day…. Should we purify the lakes and streams because fish poo too… I understand cleaning up after yourself, but it also applies to just general trash as well, at least manure is good for the soil, never saw cheese puffs grow anything. What about the idiots in parks who clean up there dog poop, put it a bag and then leave on the side of trail for the poop ferry- Any excuse to pick on horse people😃

    • Richard Schuh

      Poop Fairy.Love it. Do they take the poop and leave some money.

  • Richard Schuh

    No, AP Random. Do not leave human waste in the trail. Dig a hole 100 feet away squat and cover. thanks.