Riders in Scotland are being asked to clean up after their horses to protect their access rights.
British Horse Society (BHS) Scotland has produced a “dung guidance” document to advise riders and carriage drivers on responsible dung management.
Since the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, riders and carriage drivers are allowed over more land than ever before, so BHS Scotland is advising riders to protect that access by being courteous and responsible.
There is currently no law to oblige riders to clean up after their horse because manure is biodegradable and poses no health risk, but the BHS is urging riders to do so as a courtesy to other path users.
Helene Mauchlen from BHS Scotland said: “We are inches away from having a fouling fine introduced because people are letting their horses foul everywhere when they are out riding.”
The BHS suggests either positioning the horse’s rear towards the side of the path or road if possible or dismounting and kicking dung to the side of the road.
It also advises drivers to collect any dung and take it away.
BHS Scotland access officer Pat Somerville told H&H: “There have been issues with dung, particularly if the path is well used. Riders must be aware that they share the paths with walkers, cyclists, wheelchair users and mothers with prams.
“It is not a good enough excuse to say they can’t remount as they would dismount soon enough if their horse had a stone in its foot.”
Murial Colqhon from the Scottish Equestrian Association added: “The BHS’s initiative is a good idea, we are very fortunate to have considerable access.
“So much hard work has been done to achieve this access for the benefit of all Scottish equestrians, the least we can do is to be tidy and respectful.”
Last week (14 July), carriages were banned from Killarney National Park in southern Ireland after drivers refused to fit dung catchers, claiming the device would unbalance the horses and affect passenger safety.
But the National Parks and Wildlife Service said it had received many complaints about dung and that allowing horses to foul the park was no longer acceptable, adding the dung-catching device had undergone tests and was safe to use.
In November 2007, Blackpool Council voted to enforce the use of dung catchers on landau horses to cut the piles of droppings on the promenade.
For more information, visit www.bhsscotland.org.uk
This article was first published in Horse & Hound (23 July, ’09)