Federal Environmental Regulations and Horse Farms

The EPA might not come knocking on your barn door anytime soon, but that’s no reason not to practice good stewardship.

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Federal Environmental Regulations and Horse Farms
Runoff from horse manure into streams and wetlands can damage the environment and reduce water quality. This is the type of horse property practice the government might aim to regulate. | Photo: Erica Larson/The Horse

 The Environmental Protection Agency might not come knocking on your barn door anytime soon, but that’s no reason not to practice environmentally friendly horse stewardship

Regardless of whether you keep two horses or 20 at your farm, their grazing, stomping, and pooping is bound to impact the land at some point. But exactly what effect does your equine family—and your facility as a whole—have on the environment? And do federal environmental regulations apply to you? If you operate on a small scale, probably not, but let’s take closer look.

What kinds of things on horse properties might the government regulate? For one, “discharges (of manure) or land applications of manure as fertilizer,” says California-based environmental engineer Michael Beerends, of Conestoga-Rovers & Associates. Beerends, who aims to find agriculture and food-waste solutions for businesses, has helped several large racetracks and horse facilities comply with state and federal regulations. “Facilities need to eliminate discharges from their property if precipitation has contacted manured areas,” he says.  

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Written by:

Alayne Blickle, a lifelong equestrian and ranch riding competitor, is the creator/director of Horses for Clean Water, an award-winning, internationally acclaimed environmental education program for horse owners. Well-known for her enthusiastic, down-to-earth approach, Blickle is an educator and photojournalist who has worked with horse and livestock owners since 1990 teaching manure composting, pasture management, mud and dust control, water conservation, chemical use reduction, firewise, and wildlife enhancement. She teaches and travels North America and writes for horse publications. Blickle and her husband raise and train their mustangs and quarter horses at their eco-sensitive guest ranch, Sweet Pepper Ranch, in sunny Nampa, Idaho.

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