In his poem “Mending Wall”, Robert Frost immortalized the phrase “good fences make good neighbors”. For the Oregon horse property owner, this would make especially good sense, for obviously he or she would not relish the task of chasing a loose horse running through a neighbor’s yard or pasture. But upon deeper reflection, there are more issues in this time-honored relationship of neighbors.
Some horse owners have years, even generations of horse ownership behind them. Others are quite new to the responsibility and perhaps have even idealized the situation. Let’s take a look at some basic horse ownership responsibilities as they apply to a neighbor relationship.
An article originally published in the January 2001 issue of Horse and Rider magazine presents a well-rounded list of important but basic requirements for every horse owner. Good communication, which involves not only talking but listening as well, is an effective way hear what your neighbors’ concerns are and address them while taking an opportunity to share your point of view on the matter of concern. Ignoring others’ concerns only magnifies them and causes people to take more aggressive measures to be heard or placated.
Good fences are essential to the responsible Oregon horse property owner. Walking the fence line occasionally to spot worn or broken areas is much easier than chasing that rascally horse over hill and dale and then having to make good on any damages it caused along the way.
Your total property appearance is a statement about how you view not only yourself but your animals and your business, if it is on the premises. Keep tools and equipment picked up, parked appropriately and in good repair. Keep your lawns, flower beds, fields and driveway in good shape. An attractive property is a profitable addition to any neighborhood with respect to property values and is a visual statement about your business. Avoid the temptation to dump lawn clippings into a neighbor’s pasture as horses are sensitive eaters and this type of “munchie” can harm a horse’s digestive system.
Horse owners often have dogs on their property. Make sure yours are properly cared for, licensed, under control so they don’t wander off the property and are quiet when outside. There is nothing more annoying than having to listen to a barking dog for hours on end, especially if that dog is near to another neighbor’s home. Friendly but watchful dogs are a real asset to your property.
Noise, whether it be voices, music or amplified instructions during training, can carry further than you might imagine. Be sensitive to the level of sounds coming from your property and if neighbors mention it as a concern, address it quickly and in an agreeable manner. The same goes for lights, which most large properties have as part of their night security system. Bright flood lights that run all night can remove the calm that darkness brings when a neighbor’s house is lit up as they are trying to sleep. Less harsh light and the use of motion detectors may resolve some of those issues.
If you have people visiting your barn, arena or other horse facility, plainly and frequently post your barn and property rules and guidelines. This will support your insurance policies as you strive to maintain a safe and enjoyable facility. Remind visitors and customers of their responsibilities while on your horse property in Oregon and adhere to your rules.
In keeping to a positive note with your community and local government, be aware of any and all permits needed for your property and obtain them. Attend community meetings where your horse ownership might be an issue so you can educate the non-horse population on the value of your animals to the area and defend the rights you have as a horse property owner.
While mentioned last but certainly not least, the management of manure is actually the most often noted issue relating to horses and other livestock. Briefly, keep it picked up, away from water runoff and streams and treat it in a way that keeps insects controlled. Another blog will discuss manure management in more detail.
Keep your Oregon horse property, animals and fences in good order and your neighbors will be content to enjoy your horses as they graze in the pasture, various colors and forms quietly munching the grasses in the diminishing evening light, turning to mere shadowy forms upon the hills as the sun closes another busy day.