Last week at the barn, my friend Lindsey and I were chatting as we groomed our horses in the crossties. Our voices were businesslike and earnest; the tone one adopts when deliberating on something of the utmost importance.
We were well into the conversation before it struck me that two mature, educated, adult women had spent the last 15 minutes keenly discussing horse poop.
A frequent topic among equestrians, there’s much to be said about horse poop. The shape, color, consistency, texture and frequency of our equine’s expulsions tell us much about the animal’s well-being. Horse health discussions often involve a quiz about their quality.
Are the droppings dry? Are the leavings loose? Does it form neat nuggets in a perfect pile, or does the matter splatter? The manure-o-meter has many degrees of differentiation. One thing’s certain though—any kind of poop is better than no poop at all.
There are as many poop predicaments as there are varieties. One of the most common is when mushy manure makes a mess on the back end of the horse—a condition universally known as Poopy Butt.
While not a medical emergency, the utter horror of discovering Poopy Butt compels immediate action. It doesn’t matter how cold it is outside or how late we are for a lesson; we are not leaving the wash rack until our horse’s nether regions are spotless.
But wait, there’s more. It’s not enough to know that our horse has Poopy Butt. We must then poll the remainder of the horse owners in the barn to ascertain how many other beasts are afflicted.
If Poopy Butt is widespread, then Bad Hay may be to blame. With the voracity of torch-wielding angry villagers (it helps to imagine the sound of bloodhounds barking in the background here), we will hunt down the offending forage and eradicate it from the feed rotation.
Not all Poopy Butt is feed-related. Isolated cases can occur for various reasons. The high-strung gelding that can only pop out one or two nuggets at a time before his sphincter seizes may be experiencing a particularly intense bout of neuroticism. Rather than his usual pez-like dispensing, he may occasionally blow his ballast all at once with no regard to proper composition or consistency.
And then there’s the perpetually nervous mare, whose legacy can be summed up with two words no horse person ever wants to hear: explosive diarrhea.
Equestrians may be the only subset of humanity that can work that topic into conversation. We might be catching up with a friend, or passing time in the checkout line at the grocery store. We might be chatting at a barbeque, or making small talk at the Governor’s Ball. But some unlucky soul who makes the mistake of asking us why we smell like bleach is going to hear how we spent all afternoon scrubbing the aftermath of a Vesuvius-level natural disaster off the side of the barn.
But the most reviled manure mishap is when our trusty steed manages to drop a load into his water bucket, creating what is colloquially known as “poop soup.” Even the most stalwart of souls can get queasy at the sight of it.
It’s even worse when the unintended target is one of those little bitty automatic water bowls. The effect is that of too many scoops of Rocky Road being shoved in too small a cone. There isn’t enough disinfectant on the planet to make you feel good about your horse drinking out of that thing again. You may as well just wrap yellow police tape around the stall and schedule it for demolition.
While doo-doo discussions are perfectly acceptable at the barn, remember that most other settings are not appropriate places to regale people with tales of your horse’s excrement.
There’s no better way to make your significant other slink away from you at a party than to start a discussion with somebody about horse poop. The subject is second only to feminine hygiene products in its ability to clear a room.
You can, of course, use this sort of reaction to your advantage.
That first date with the guy you met online not quite what you’d hoped for? No need for the traditional “date escape” phone call from a friend. Nothing says “check please” faster than confessing your concern over the texture of today’s ordure.
For extra expeditiousness, compare the abnormal slurry to, say, the bowl of chili your beau has suddenly lost his appetite for.
No one, after all, can deny the call of doody.
After years of trying to fit in with corporate America, Jody Lynne Werner decided to pursue her true passion as a career rather than a hobby. So now, she’s an artist, graphic designer, illustrator, cartoonist, web designer, writer and humorist. You can find her work on her Misfit Designs Cafepress site. Jody is one of the winners of the Chronicle’s first writing competition. Her work also appears in print editions of The Chronicle of the Horse.