Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reading Poo Patterns

I seem to be writing a lot lately about horse manure - perhaps because that's my main interaction with my horses right now, other than some grooming.  The weather's been pretty comfortable - 20sF without a lot of wind - but the packed snow/ice conditions aren't very good for riding.

One of the things I always try to pay attention to in the mornings when I feed is poo patterns in the stalls - I also pay attention to amount and appearance as that's a good indicator of digestive health.  This is also a good way to get to know what each horse's "normal" is. If a horse is usually neat, but the poo that morning is strewn all over the place and trodden into the bedding, that can be a sign of worry or some other difficulty.  And the opposite applies too - if a horse that is usually messy has clearly been standing in one spot all night, that can be a sign of pain or depression - or maybe just that the horse was tired.

As I've been cleaning Pie's night-time paddock, which is about 40 feet by 60 feet, and has a three-sided shed, over the past several days his poo pattern has changed.  The first days he was out there, most of the poo was close to the fence line nearest the barn - he'd been walking up and down that fence line a lot or staying there in the night.  But yesterday the poo was evenly distributed around the paddock - although he keeps his eating area completely clean.  This morning most of the poo was at the top of the paddock - the area Lily used to use as her "lookout" - it's the highest point in the paddock, between the shed and the water tank, and has a clear view over all the pastures as well as back to the barn.  And for the last two nights, Pie has clearly had a good sleep - there were sleep marks in the snow (large, slightly melted patches), and those were at the top of the paddock too although in areas clear of poo.  That could also be why his hock sore was a bit worse this morning - it was really almost healed yesterday evening and this morning it was somewhat irritated again - he's been spending more time lying down.

It's clear from reading the poo patterns that he's becoming more comfortable in the paddock each day, which is very good to see.


  1. I also can't help "reading" the poop, but what I really want to say is that the picture in your header is just great! I like to look at horses in their details, and your picture captures just one of them so beautifully.

  2. Merry Xmas to you and everyone there, especially sweet Pie :)

  3. Your header picture is adorable! I love pony muzzles--they're perfect for smooches and rubs!

    I'm glad Pie is settling into his paddock; we just recently opened up our barn for the horses to use as a run-in for the winter instead of being in at night. It took them a few days, but they seem much happier now. I think a lot of horses enjoy the choice of being in a cozy shelter or out in the open.

  4. I never actually thought of poo patterns, perhaps because I don't have to clean up after Gem. What you say makes sense! I do look at his poo, though. I want make sure he's hydrating himself properly.

    Have a happy holiday and enjoy your friends and family. Best wishes for the New Year!!

  5. I do have to clean up after the horses, and so I also think about their poo a lot. I'm glad other horse people can appreciate it, because who else can you talk to about this subject? LOL Some of the ideas you had though, I hadn't thought of.

    I'm glad Pie is settling in to his new spot.

  6. Love the header! I agree that ever horse has a certain "poo pattern." Missy, for example, does most of her "business" on the left side of her stall, mostly because that's the way she's situated when she eats out of her hay rack.

  7. Like Linda, I think it's great that there are so many of us that read and write about horse poop!
    That's neat that Pie has relaxed and is pooping all over the place!
    In my barn Doc is very stable. He poops basically in two areas of his paddock. Pippin can be read, like a book, though. This summer when his feet were sore he told me about it by leaving lots of piles in his stall. He also leaves comments in his stall about yucky weather!!

  8. Poo is important, and I guess we all qualify as "poo inspectors" lol :)

    Val is hanging out in his shelter a lot more (when temps are below freezing) according to his manure patterns. The outside the stall manure tends to show which direction the wind was coming from overnight as well.

    Kate - I linked to your most recent post about horse dentistry. Hope that's okay...

    Happy holidays to you and your family (especially Pie!) and best wishes for the New Year!

  9. Kate, only you could make reading about poo interesting. Have a great festive time.

  10. I'm so happy Pie is adjusting and liking his paddock. We monitor poo as well. It can tell you a lot - just as you said.

  11. I think all of us horse folks monitor our horses "poo" patterns on a daily basis. Just glad I don't have to do it by the braille method.

    Have a Merry Christmas and Happy Healthy New Year.

  12. Totally random poo pattern in the riding arena from the last week or so. It was finally warm enough to do some picking, so I did. Good poo--all over the place.

    Horsemen can find appreciation in the strangest least strange to those in the outside world. *lol*

  13. I do the poo reading thing too. Especially in the winter, it lets me know if they're drinking enough water.


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