follow us

Close this search box.

That’s a Pile of Horse Poo!

A family of wild mustangs play and eat.

A friend and I rode in the Sitgreaves National Forest near Overgaard, AZ. Located in the southern parts of Navajo, Coconino, and Apache counties, it has an area of 818,749 acres. The trails we were riding were known for their abundance of wildlife, including mustangs or wild horses that lived there. It is also a popular area for recreational horseback riders, like us, and ATVs.

What a Pile of Poo!

We started our trail riding along the main, but dirt, roads. Since we didn’t know the area, we wanted to ensure we couldn’t get lost. Many secondary dirt roads branched off. We noticed at the intersections of many of these roads were piles of horse manure. My friend concluded that these giant piles of horse droppings were from group ride trailers. Once they unloaded the horses, the riders cleaned the manure out of the trailers, leaving it beside the road. I had doubts, but I was new to the area, so maybe she was right.

As we rode along, we saw more and more of the piles along the roadside. What I didn’t see were scattered droppings, as I would expect from free-roaming horses. Over the next few days of our rides, we saw and interacted with several bands of Mustangs. Some were family groups, while others were bachelor groups. Everywhere we went, the horse droppings were always in piles. I began to suspect that the horse groups were doing it on purpose. My friend was doubtful. How could they know to all ‘go’ in the same spot?

When we reached the top of a high hill, where there was no evidence of vehicular traffic, it was apparent that the horses produced the manure piles and not the result of cleaning out horse trailers.

Suspicions Confirmed 

Upon return to the availability of the Internet, my suspicions were confirmed. The horses were making the piles intentionally. They are scent-marking their territory. Stallions leave their droppings on top of others’ piles, masking the previous horses’ smell, leaving theirs as the most prominent. This tells others of their presence. Stallions also mark their mares’ droppings, announcing they are his; urinating on the mares’ manure is another common way of marking. The most enormous piles are left on main routes, often to water sources.

I’m not including any photos of the poop piles, but here are some pictures of the poop pile producers!

A chestnut brown stallion stands on a dirt trail observing his surroundings.

A stallion  

A group of bachelor stallions graze in a field.

A bachelor group

A pinto horse with a bridle stands in the foreground as a group of wild mustangs walk nearby.

My boy Poncho and our new Mustang friends

Share this post