Northwest NEWS

June 28, 1999


Horses are really just mulching lawnmowers

   A Woodinville resident's letter of June 14th about "pets" in the Redmond Watershed was both amusing and alarming.

   First of all, I concur with the writer's disappointment with the "no dogs allowed" policy of Redmond Parks. I have walked and ridden in the watershed property for over a dozen years with my dogs. However, I respect the intention to have the watershed as a wildlife preserve and dogs don't mix with this use. I personally would not walk alone without a dog in the watershed, so my entry is on my other so-called "pet," my horse.

   I totally disagree with the prior letter writer that horses have made an awful mess of the watershed trails. I am often amazed and in wonderment of how great the trails have held up, even with 6 months of almost continuous rain. Yes, there may be a very few muddy spots, but overall, even the Trillium trail has held up great.

   There is a tremendous debate about trail damage by bicycles (which make trenches for water to follow) vs. horses. The debate is senseless, since Redmond Parks has shown that proper construction and maintenance remedies most problems. Unless the letter writer spent countless hours watching trail traffic and continously monitored who, how, and when trail damage occurred, it is irresponsible to blame all damage on horses.

   Now, the real beef of the prior letter surfaces when he finally admits he is disturbed to find horse poop in the watershed, and he is equally outraged to find out that horses actually pass manure on roads. Again, science and a little common sense will tell you there are far more problems with dog feces as a potentially harmful pollutant vs. horse manure.

   In England, many homeowners rush into the streets to grab horse manure for their gardens and compost piles. Horses are really just mulching lawnmowers, who just add water. When is the last time you heard of someone gathering up a load of "dog doo" for their organic garden?

   The letter writer wants me to somehow carry a pitchfork and bucket with me on all outings in case the horse passes manure (many horses go 3-4 hours between passings). In case the letter writer isn't aware, Woodinville is the horse capital of Washington state, but horse ownership is continuously threatened by people who move to the surburban/rural fringe and then figure out they don't like their neighbors to have and enjoy their horses.

   I am a conscientious trail user and apologize to everyone in advance if they are truly and utterly offended by the mere sight of horse droppings. Perhaps watershed trail cleaning parties could be organized with a motorized vehicle pulling a small trailer? There are trail user groups that could provide the potential volunteers.

Shelly Navarre, Woodinville