Friday, April 23, 2010

The Muck Heap

If you're stabling at a horse show, you will need to find out where the muck heaps are located. It doesn't seem like a big deal, but dumping your wheelbarrow in the wrong spot can block pathways, bother other barns or even prevent the manure from being removed if it's in an area that tractors can't access.

Step number one for finding a muck heap is to look for signs. Some shows will hammer signposts into the ground where they want you to dump and you're safe as long as you use a signed area.

Muck heaps are sometimes contained within walled wooden or concrete structures or metal containers, which makes them easy to find. Often, however, the muck heaps will just be on an inconspicuous open spot of ground.

Unfortunately, many shows don't bother with signage. In such a case, it's best to watch where other grooms in your stabling area go. Keep in mind that some people will disregard the official muck heaps and make their own for convenience' sake, so make sure that the location seems reasonable before dumping your own wheelbarrow there.

Here's a short checklist to run through to make sure that you're in the right place:
  • Is it in the middle of a road or aisle? If so, chances are it's just someone's lazy dumping spot rather than the official location. Dumping there will make it difficult for people to get by and to clean up, and could result in a fine.
  • Is there tractor access? If the only access is very narrow, chances are the tractor won't be able to get in there to clean it up.
  • How close is it to other barns? This one is tough because sometimes the official muck heaps will spread out to within a few feet of nearby stalls if they aren't compacted often enough (which is one very good reason to dump your wheelbarrow as deep into the pile as you can get). If the muck heap is on someone's doorstep, you probably shouldn't add to that one, anyway!
If you're still not sure whether you're dumping in the right place, keep your ears open for announcements made to the stabling area because the show office will usually try to correct any bad muck heap situations that way.

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