In the quest to green every aspect of our daily lives, it’s really no surprise that someone would eventually write a book devoted entirely to greening the equestrian passion. But can someone successfully write an entire book about the subject?
The answer: Well, kind of.
Author and horse keeper Lucinda Dyer takes on that challenge in her new book, Eco-Horsekeeping: Over 100 budget-friendly ways you and your horse can save the planet (Trafalgar Square Books, $16.95).
Though the author devotes more than 150 pages to (mostly) thrifty ways to help lower your horse’s carbon hoofprint, many of the tips feel as if they were gleamed from the heavily recycled "Top 10 Ways to Save the Planet" lists we all know so well.
For example, the author recommends that horse-keepers cut down on plastic bottle waste by either recycling or buying a reusable bottle — already a sort of a no-brainer among most in the eco-crowd. Other well-worn ideas include avoiding idling in the trailer or cutting down on horse catalog waste by signing up on junk mail slashing Web sites such as www.41pounds.org.
There’s nothing wrong with these tips, per se, but hardcore enviros who have been around the green block a few times may want to save their money for more challenging ventures that go beyond the obvious go-green mantra.
But for those who are just getting into the green scene AND who are interested in horses, these green neophytes will be happy to find that amidst all the recycled material in this book, there are a handful of genuinely fresh and innovative ideas.
For example, to keep horse troughs clean the eco way, the author recommends tossing some goldfish into the tank, an idea that’s seems pretty basic on the surface but overall is incredibly smart. After all, as the author notes, goldfish have “a mighty appetite for mosquitoes, algae, assorted bugs and water tank debris.” And don’t worry — horses rarely inhale or swallow the fish, the author assures us, especially if you provide a small hide away for the fishes to use in order to escape the horses’ inquisitive noses.
Another great tip is to employ nature’s creatures rather than use toxic-laden chemicals to cut back the amount of pesky insects to a minimum. According to the book, one little brown bat can catch about 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in an hour, and many species also reduce other pests such as moths, beetles and leafhoppers.
Some of these ideas are even expanded into brief profiles of people and businesses that have taken on these green initiatives, including Bonny and Kiley Taylor, who used innovative ways to conserve resources on their antiquated barn in Northern Virginia.
But the true gold-cup winning advice is near the end of the book, where the author advises that the best way to get top-notch enviro information (for free!) is to enlist the help of governmental agencies like the Department of Agriculture’s National Resource Conservation Service and Cooperative Extension Service or local Conservation Districts. These agencies have teams of experts on hand who are more than willing to come out to your farm and help you transition to more environmentally friendly horsekeeping by providing you with research-based information on everything from manure management to sustainable development.
Overall, the book is a good overview of the many ways readers can take their conservation habits all the way to the barn, but savvy environmentalists may find that many of the book’s obvious eco points may leave them feeling stuck in the mud.