Why don’t horse riders pick up horse poo, but dog owners do? Here are the reasons

We are all aware of the hefty fines imposed if you fail to pick up your dog’s poo when walking them out in public. Most of us will agree with them too, as spotting dog dung littering the streets is never a nice sight.

Not to mention what a pain it can be when having to get it out of your soles. However, have you ever been stuck behind a horse rider and seen the horse just, release it all?

Have you ever then thought ‘why don’t they have to pick up their pet’s excrement’?

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I was driving through Wiveliscombe very recently and was behind a horse and cart when this very question came to me. Later I came across a Reddit thread and a previous report by WalesOnline which answered my question.

The answer was simply summed up by Reddit user benjymous: “The answer is herbivore poo doesn’t contain the same sorts of dangerous bacteria that carnivore/omnivore poo does.” Other users pointed out that it’s normally “in the road and not on the pavement”, as laws dictate horses aren’t permitted to ride on pavements.

The general consensus seemed to be that the public don’t actually mind horse poo anywhere near as much as carnivorous excrement. This makes sense, as I remember my parents and grandparents telling me that people used to breed to be the first to grab some fresh manure for their flowerbeds and vegetable patches.

Their answer is backed up by a similar response given by a council to SurreyLive when locals were asking the same question in 2018.

A spokesperson said at the time: “One of the reasons that there are no legislation or enforcement powers covering horse dung is that unlike dog fouling, horse dung from a healthy horse presents no risk to human health.”

The science shows that risks are higher with meat-eating dogs as their poo can contain bacteria such as Salmonella, E. Coli and Campylobacter, which can be dangerous if transmitted to other pets or humans.

Horses’ plant-based diets mean the risks of toxins are significantly lower, even if their piles of manure on the road are more sizeable. But while the science is clear, this does not mean everyone is happy about the different legal requirements.

One Redditor, Stooby2, said: “It’s still as slippery as dog poo when you come around a corner on your bike /motorbike and there’s piles of it across the road. No reason why it shouldn’t be cleared up.”

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