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Ponderings of an Equestrian Professional

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What happens to your muck heap?

If you have horses, you'll be aware of your yard muck heap. Do you know what happens to it when it's taken away? Do you know what should, and more importantly should NOT be put into your muck heap?

In the last 30 years I have worked in private and public yards with as many as 70 stables, and as few as 5. All of them had muck heaps that had to be moved, more often on the big yards than the smaller ones. Over the years I have often been surprised, sometimes disappointed, and occasionally horrified by some of the items local farmers have found in their fields after spreading the muck as manure.

Baler twine, haynets, plastic and glass bottles, drinks cans, crisps packets and sweet wrappings, a single welly boot, are all items that have been found in muck heaps, or on fields after the muck has been spread. The one I was most horrified by occured in a small private yard. We had an old table top we were using as a ramp to push the wheelbarrow up to get it onto the muck heap. It was working well, then, when I returned after several days off the table top had disappeared. When I asked no one new where it was. several months later while he was loading up the muck, the farmer called me over to explain a twisted piece of metal he had found. The table top had a rectangular metal frame on the underside, it had obviously been buried in the muck, the ply wood had rotted away, leaving just the frame.

I've been involved with horses for so long, I can't remember learning what happened to the muck heap when it was taken away. Someone must have told me, and whatever they said to me it sank in and I have never forgotten, even as a rebellious teenager (yes, I was one, once).

The recent removal of the muck heap at the yard where I am currently based, and a conversation with the farmer moving it, made me think 'doesn't everyone know the muck is going to be spread as fertiliser, so has to be biodegradeable?' Obviously not if they have never been told


So here's some advice, no farmer enjoys field walking to remove rubbish (I don't know many horse owners who enjoy it much either), but having valuable equipment damaged by rubbish doesn't please them much either!

Rubbish belongs in the bin, or, if possible, re-cycled. Only biodegradeable muck on the muck heap please.

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