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Photo courtesy of Peggy Manness

For horse people, manure is part of day-to-day life. For people who do not have experience with horses, manure can appear dirty and even toxic. When they see it on a trail or roadway, they may become fearful that the manure will transmit diseases in the same way that dog, cat or other animal leavings can. This article offers a few talking points to alleviate these misplaced fears.

  • Horse manure is comprised of 70 to 80 percent liquid and 20 to 30 percent solids. The liquid portion absorbs quickly into the ground. The majority of the solid portion – mostly grass and forage leavings – breaks down in the first six days.
  • Horse manure is biodegradable, natural and contains no petroleum or animal byproducts.
  • Horse manure is an excellent fertilizer and can improve soil conditions.
  • There are no known toxic effects on humans due to exposure to horse manure.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency excluded horse manure from solid waste regulation because it contains neither significant amounts of hazardous materials nor exhibits hazardous characteristics.
  • Horses do not carry any of the 120 viruses and pathogens that create risk for humans from carnivore and omnivore species.
  • The pathogens that do exist in horse leavings require ingestion to create a health risk, typically abdominal discomfort.
  • Most of these pathogens have very short lifespan on the ground, meaning the risk of infection through ingestion is very limited.
  • No record exists of horses transmitting any disease to humans.

To read the research behind these talking points, please visit: