Let’s Talk Horse Poop !

By Deb Haines

Horse manure changes color and consistency depending on their diet. When the horse eats a diet of grass or very bright green rich hay, the manure will be a bright green color when fresh. If the horse is eating paler green hay, the manure will be paler and if the horse is forced it eat brownish hay, the manure will be a similar color. Outdoors, the weather bleaches it all brown eventually and the rain and sun break it down into the soil.

Horse Poop Facts

One horse produces about eight piles, weighing in at around 50 lbs, a day.

It usually contains grass and grain fibers, minerals, shed cells, fats, water and sand.

About 3/4 of the total weight of manure is water.

Manure is sometimes called buns, road apples, horse pucky, horse chips, horse hooey and horse apples.

Horse manure should be spherical in shape. This is caused by the large intestine squeezing the contents into ball-like shapes as it extracts water.

Horse manure is unlikely to spread disease to people, including bacterial e-coli which is killed by sunlight.

Horse manure changes color and consistency depending on diet.

Particularly foul smelling manure could be caused by a rapid change in diet, too much fat or protein, ulcers, or internal parasites.

Why does my horse eat his/her poop ?

Horses eat manure, The practice is called coprophagy. Although eating horse manure is generally harmless, it is one way that internal parasites are transmitted. Many horses eat manure because they can!

there are times when ….

  • Diet in general may be poor (the hay quality may need improving)
  • Boredom (your horse needs exercise, companionship when in the stable or needs to be turned out more often)

Foals eat manure to “Kick start the digestive system”

This is the most commonly known reason for foals to eat manure. The healthy horse’s digestive system contains many microbes including bacteria, protozoa and fungi. At least 50 species have been found in horse digestive systems

Understanding Your Horses Poop

Healthy manure should have a glossy shine, indicating normal hydration, and forms neat, somewhat firm, balls. You should be able to break up the manure balls easily.

Normal Horse Manure

Manure is Hard or Dry

The last 10 foot section of the equine intestine is the small colon. One of it’s main roles is to create fecal balls, and remove water from them in order to conserve water. There is a wide range of manure consistency (from soft to firm) that is considered normal, and the occasional production of somewhat dry manure is probably not a cause for concern.

That said, very hard and dry manure can be a sign of dehydration or illness. For manure to become hard and dry, the large and small colon must have extracted excessive water from it. This happens when a horse is poorly hydrated.

Similarly, in a horse suffering from an underlying illness, manure may sit in the colon for a longer-than-normal period of time. Water is extracted by the colon during this time and the manure is dryer once expelled. Harder, drier manure is also more commonly seen in the winter, when water consumption decrease

Dry Horse Manure


Horses rely on bacteria in their gastrointestinal tract to help digest much of the forage and fiber they eat. Horses with intestinal conditions that alter the bacteria in the gut, ulcers or have a sudden change in diet will have unusually foul-smelling manure. If his manure smells like rotten meat, his diet may have too much protein; however, if it smells rancid, it may indicate that he’s receiving an excess of carbohydrates. Depending on the severity of the digestive upset, you may also see a change in color and consistency along with the rank odor.


Healthy manure should have a glossy shine, indicating normal hydration, and forms neat, somewhat firm, balls. You should be able to break up the manure balls easily. If your horse’s manure is dull, dry or hard, he may be dehydrated, and you will need to increase his fluid intake immediately.The material that makes up the manure should be broken down with no identifiable pieces of hay or other feedstuffs. The presence of stems or intact grains in the manure can indicate that your horse may not be chewing properly. It’s best to call your veterinarian or equine dentist to have his teeth checked; he may need a thorough exam and floating.

If your horse’s manure doesn’t form neat balls, it may indicate a more serious health issue. Piles of soft or liquid manure could also be the result of stress, such as after a hard work out. If your horse has soft or loose manure, take his temperature. If he has a fever, contact your veterinarian. Think about what you’ve fed your horse over the last day or two; a change in diet could lead to misshapen manure. Giving your horse certain medications, such as an antibiotic, can also upset his intestinal flora.

You can also have your veterinarian analyze a sample of the diarrhea-type manure, so she can evaluate for parasites and microscopic evidence of blood. Bacterial infections, such as Salmonella and Clostridial bacteria, can be contagious to other horses, so be sure to practice good hygiene if your horse has diarrhea!

Along with fermentation, digestion, and absorption of some nutrients, another important function of the equine large colon is to regulate the amount of water in the ingesta (a heavy, wet sludge of bacteria, protozoa, feed and water within the colon), usually by taking water back into the blood circulation from the this material.

The function of the small colon (the most downstream portion of the intestinal tract, and downstream from the large colon) is to dehydrate it further, making it into relatively dry fecal balls, and in so doing to minimize water loss.

It is normal for there to be some variation in the consistency of a horse’s manure. Just because a horse has soft manure does not mean they are sick. Importantly, horses pass soft or watery manure during times when they are anxious or stressed. This is one reason horses tend to pass wet manure when loaded in the trailer, the stress of being loaded. A horse’s manure may also soften as a result of a feed change, but in most cases should return to normal within a day or two.

A horse may also pass water after or alongside solid manure. Rather than the water being contained within the fecal balls, it is outside of it. One potential cause for this is long fiber length in the manure. This can result from poor grinding or the use of excessively fibrous, stalky forage like straw.

But soft manure can also be a result of poor function of the lower intestine (the colon), which can be caused by a variety of conditions. If this observation is coupled with other signs of illness (especially loss of appetite, depression or colic) or if your horse suddenly develops watery diarrhea, they may be suffering from a serious underlying problem and should be promptly examined by a vet.

Chronic diarrhea HVC file by Dr. Karie Vander Werf https://www.facebook.com/notes/horse-vet-corner-only-approved-veterinarians-comment/faq-chronic-diarrhea/621990071576095/


When looking at your horse’s manure piles, check closely to see if you detect any worms. If you notice parasites, your horse probably needs to be dewormed. You may also notice parasites a day or two after your horse has been dewormed due to purging; this is normal. However, if your horse hasn’t been dewormed recently and you discover worms, contact your veterinarian immediately to have her analyze a sample of the manure and discuss an appropriate deworming plan.

Redworm; large and small strongyles appear as small, thin, spidery worms in the dung. They are red when they’ve been feeding on your horse’s blood but can also be white if they haven’t eaten in a while.


Roundworm; large, stringy, yellowish white worms that can be upwards of 30 cm long, these can look rather alarming when they do appear. Usually a parasite of young horses they can be dangerous, especially in large quantities.


Tapeworm; segments of tapeworm break off to release eggs inside the horse and it’s these proglottids are what are most often seen in droppings.

Tape work segment

Pinworm; because these parasites live in the hind gut they are one of the most commonly seen horse worms, being nearer the exit to appear whole. They are the colour and shape of beansprouts in the horse’s poo with a pointy end that helps to differentiate them from roundworm.

Mucus in manure

Manure coated in mucus is a sign of abnormally reduced intestinal movement that may result from a variety of disease processes. It is a sign that we often see in horses that have had other conditions causing abdominal pain (colic).

Mucus in manure

Whats growing on my horses poop !

Cobweb Mold. It’s a fungal growth that thrives in high levels of humidity combined with high temperatures. It’s not dangerous to the horses and has absolutely nothing to do with nutrition or gastrointestinal health.

Cobweb Mold


Ref…. https://www.westgatelabs.co.uk/info-zone/parasites-affecting-horses/eew-what-s-that-in-my-horse-s-poo/


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