How can I tell if my horse's manure is normal?
I know what you guys are going to say, I can hear it now…
- “Really? An article on poop?”
- “Who cares?”
- “I hate mucking it, why do I want to examine it?”
But really it boils down to this - what’s normal? If you horse deviates from this, you will know. This accomplishes one major goal - get help fast before things escalate. Diarrhea can be dangerous - life threatening if allowed to continue.
A typical and normal pile of manure.
Generally speaking, normal horse manure can be described this way:
- Formed fecal balls
- Fecal balls form a heap
- Not too wet, not too dry
- Passed six to eight times a day, more for stallions and babies. Some horses are like clockwork.
- About 50 lbs per day (nice arm muscles you have there!)
- No mucus
- No visible food bits, although you can sometimes discern chewed up forage lengths
Some things to be on the lookout for:
-Too wet (either loose or actual diarrhea that coats the legs and tail and is sometimes projectile). When your horse is passing so much water, this can throw him into dehydration and a myriad of other problems. It can also be a sign of an infectious disease, in which case all other horses at the barn are at risk. Call your Veterinarian asap.
Bad, bad, bad. Call the Vet please!
-Too dry. This is a sign he’s not getting enough water. Definitely investigate and call your Veterinarian for instructions. It may be as simple as making sure his buckets are full and clean, or you need to find a way to increase his intake. Impactions can be a worry in this case.
-Weird colors. Red and black can indicate blood in the digestive system, also a huge warning sign and reason to call the Veterinarian. Some shades of green are usually a result of the type of forage, alfalfa is known to contribute to bright green manure.
-Anything out of the ordinary. A change in frequency, location, quantity, etc. can signal an imbalance somewhere. Considering that your horse’s intestines are about 100 feet long, that’s a lot of tubing that can get out of whack.
This manure is less formed and softer than others, but it's normal for this horse.
A feed change, stress, showing, travel, medications, and all sorts of other things can throw your horse’s digestion a bit off. Make feed changes gradually (over a week or more if you can) and keep things the same when you and your horse are on the road.
Also remember that every horse will be a bit different. And that your call to your Veterinarian for some advice may just save you a slew of vet bills in the future if you suspect something is wrong.