I hate it. Poo-picking. I hate it with a passion. Almost as much as I hate mucking out straw beds. So today, while spending THREE HOURS poo-picking in the blazing sun, I thought I’d try to come up with some good reasons & methods for poo-picking slightly more bearable. Yes, it really did challenge my brain, once I’d got past the obvious stuff!
Reduce the worm burden of your pasture.
Everyone knows this, right? But it really is THE most effective way of reducing not only the amount of worms which your horse ingests, but also is the BEST way of reducing resistance to anthelmintics (anti-worm chemicals to you & me). If we remove the poo, we remove the worms, and therefore we do not need to keep using anthelmintics. Happy days.
Do it regularly & it’s easy…
My problem is that I don’t poo pick daily. I should, I know, but life takes over & to be honest I’d rather be riding. This means that a few days go by, and then it becomes a huge job again. So my advice is to have a mammoth poo-picking party (with some friends and/or alcohol/nibbles) and clear the lot, then keep on top of it! Yeah, I know, it’s a work in progress.
Getting rid of the poo means that your grazing is more likely to look nice & smart. No-one likes to look at a field full of droppings, and I have to say that it is rather satisfying to look at a ‘clean’ field. If you’re really keen, you can get a pair of loppers & get rid of those pesky docks, then spray the roots to kill them completely. I guess this depends on how OCD you are…
Observing your horse(s)
Instead of getting grumpy about how many piles of droppings there are, keep any eye on your horse’s behaviour & that of his/her friends. It can really give you a great insight into herd dynamics, communication and habits. You can also make a basis assessment of your horse’s health status, i.e. condition score, weight, movement, soundness, etc.
Bonding with your horse(s)
Spend some time with your horse, especially if like me, you’re often zooming around the yard trying to get jobs done. Sometimes, it really is lovely just going over to your horse to say ‘hello’.
Work on your posture (to improve your riding!)
Engage your core! Make sure that you are poo-picking in a good stance, by bending your legs & keeping your back straight. This will help reduce injuries & soreness, plus it will help you to become more aware of your body, and should therefore have a positive impact on your riding.
Set yourself a target
So today, my target was to poo-pick the entire paddock which one of my horses is using. He’s a like a Dyson when it comes to grazing, so unsurprisingly produces inordinate amounts of droppings. I set aside some time to do this (on reflection, not enough!) and got my head down. And yes, I did clear the field!
Don’t look up!
I simply can’t bear looking up and around the field when I’m poo-picking, as it’s often too demoralising. There’s just so much! So, I keep my head down and clear the 2m area around me, then just move onto the next.
Music is essential
I find that if I’m listening to the radio (Absolute Radio 90s or BBC Radio 2 are my main stations of choice) then my little brain cells are more occupied, and I hate it slightly less.
I’m currently typing in a rather hap-hazard way as I have so many blisters from poo-picking. It’s really not very pleasant. I strongly advocate wearing those thin gardening gloves for poo-picking, so that you can actually wash your hair in the shower afterwards without being in agony.
So there you have it, my musings from today’s poo-picking marathon. Happy summer everyone!
The Everyday Equestrian