We can all feel that change is in the air. Horse’s coats are getting thicker and people are getting blankets ready and cleaning out gutters. But what about the bigger picture? Do you have long term plans for what your horse facility will look like in 5 – 10 years? Could you use this winters rain to get through next years drought? Do you have alternative energy options to compensate for increased energy bills? What if horses and buildings had to be at least 50 feet away from waterways? These are questions that wise horsemen and property owners are beginning to answer. Yes change is in the air but by being pro – active we can help guide its direction.
We must stay informed as the regulations and specifications change. Some of us share a fence line with housing developments and we have all known of properties that succumbed to urban sprawl, which makes for a good example. Our new neighbors may not be in love with the smell of horses the way we are and they might even be a little insulted by dust and flies. Unaware of, or maybe just choosing not to acknowledge their own contributions to environmental and water pollutants, they focus on our manure piles and mud. Now I’m not exactly a big fan of manure or mud but if regulations are going to be made I would hope they are guided by us and not just our neighbors on the other side of the fence. Being responsible stewards to our land and waterways is beneficial to us, our horses, our properties and our planet. Besides, making plans now will save us money and grief in the future.
Here is a short list to help you get started:
- Remove manure regularly. Keep stored manure away from waterways and keep it covered during rainy months. Direct water run-off away from storage area. Write down a manure management plan so you have it ready if it is challenged
- Create a conservation plan for your property. Show what would be done to modify your current operations if they are within 50 ft of waterways
- Document or photograph current operations or any changes made
- Have your property evaluated by a specialist (like from the UC Co-Operative Extension)
- Install skylights, look into solar and wind power, put lights on timers and use florescent bulbs
- Install a rain water collection system and run off diversions
- Use caution when disposing of horse products and read labels
- Develop and maintain filter strips of dense grass between drainages and high traffic areas (such as paddocks, walkways and arenas) to trap and filter sediment from runoff.
- Think of ways to REDUCE consumption, RE USE whenever possible and always RECYCLE
Have you ever noticed that a favorite topic of discussion among horse people is how much a certain horse has changed or improved in some way because of that person? It really is a fascinating phenomenon and I think it speaks volumes about our urge to improve quality of life. My hope is that we apply that same urge to our environment, and someday we can discuss how not only our horses but our land and water, our neighbors and even we have changed for the better because of our actions.
Green Apple Horse Network says “Reduce your carbon hoofprint!”
More information and possible assistance is available from the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRSC), local Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs), and Marin County Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program (MCSTOPPP)