There’s a lot more to manure than mucking; your horse’s fecal production and appearance can be an indicator of good or poor health.

Potty talk is largely taboo among adults, but it shouldn’t be! There are tons of tidbits to share with friends and colleagues about poop (Did you know you can harness the heat generated by composting horse manure to warm your barn in winter?)—almost as much as the nine tons of manure the average 1,000-pound horse produces each year.

So don’t regard horse poop as just a pain in the butt to muck, pick up, and dispose of. Rather, consider it a valuable window into your horse’s gut and overall health status.

“A horse’s intestinal tract is approximately 100 feet long and finely adapted for various functions, but it’s also prone to development of problems. Things can go wrong quickly,” warns Scott Weese, DVM, DVSc, Dipl. ACVIM, a professor in the Department of Pathobiology at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College, in Canada.

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