This is always a potential issue, old thread or not. Last week I trail rode the pony up to the hayfield my trainer leases out. I wanted to do some traffic exposure so I rode all the way to the verge of the road and very carefully skirted the edge of the field till I got to the furthest point where either some neighbor horses had got loose and trampled the field or the neighbors had taken their horses and an ATV and gone ski joring in the recent snow - without permission of course. I straight away told my trainer about the manure and the hoof damage and she seemed annoyed but resigned to it as there is no fence there.
However, I'M still worried about the fallout and whether I'll continue to be allowed to roam the property. I'm not allowed to enter into the large back pastures as there are horses there so that's half the property off limits, and I've been getting distance by switchbacking alongside fences. Can't ride on the mown grass areas either, and I really get the feeling that if he manures on the main driveway that we are allowed to ride on, I'd better get that cleaned up NOW. Being respectful can be hard work!
We bought & moved into a place - not a huge place - that had pretty much been left up to grabs for riders, as it had been built as someone's "vacation house" for hunting. I'm sure you can already imagine what we faced moving in full-time to a place that was only occupied (according to neighbors) two weeks out of the year. Everyone in the area considered all of our 22 acres a free playground.
While our moving van was still in the driveway we had locals riding up & turning the front lawn into a polo field of divots, leaving manure up & down our driveway, & automatically assuming they'd have free access to our place without even asking. Sad to say, after meeting these individuals & experiencing their feelings of "entitlement" to ride on our property, + discussing their habits with our next-door neighbors (who own the road leading to our place), we unfortunately "nipped in the bud", as "Barney Fife" would say, their access to our property. Too damn bad for them; heaven for us.
I won't go into the trucks driving up in the dead of night during deer season, then burning rubber when they realized someone was at home. Sigh.
Luckily, since years have passed, we no longer have those problems. And frankly, I'm glad I didn't bow to the pressure that was put upon me when we first moved in to continue to allow riders on my land.
It is an old thread yet an enduring issue that really is a threat, as they don't "Make" land any more. There are many organizations trying to work it, like ELCR. I just receently was elected to the BOD of TROT (www.trot-md.org), a MD area trail riders group "TROT is dedicated to the preservation of existing equestrian trails and the establishment of new trails throughout Maryland and neighboring states. Some trails are on public lands while others are on private land, some of which are subject to development".
We are losing our trails- if you live in a rural area, you can lose them there too. Easements and legislative ammendments are needed to help folks vs. lawsuits and to encourage land owners to allow access to folks (assuming they are responsible). While not a land owner myself (yet), at some ppoint I will be one and want to have an environment that is not prohibitive, should I choose to allow folks access. So please feel free to continue the discussion
It took me almost two years to find a property suitable for my horses, and one of the main criteria came to be access to trails. Actually, the criteria changed as I looked at different properties. I soon came to veto the properties which were in areas being developed into suburbs. In those areas there is no place to ride and no like-minded people to maintain horse trails and the like. I would find a nice property in such a place, but I couldn't afford to buy (and pay taxes on) the hundreds of acres which would make it work.
I came to realize I only wanted a small property with land enough for a barn and some spacious paddocks as long as I was near a permanent park. I also wanted to avoid roads -- especially freeways. I was so happy to find a place that backs onto a regional park which allows horses and hikers but no motorized vehicles.
So here is the list that evolved:
-Minimum two acres.
-Zoned for horses.
-Direct access to a park. I found a beautiful place with a view, all utilities, a decent price, in a planned community of many horse owners, but the park was far away and I would have had to have ridden for a couple of miles down roads to get there. Another property nearby was surrounded by hundreds, maybe thousands, of acres of private land with horse trails all over, but my concern was that eventual development could change the whole picture. Right now I board at a place within a mile of a national forest, but there is no easy access; it can only be reached by meandering several miles over paved and groomed suburban streets. Do you ride on the sidewalk? On the pavement? I don't like either option.
-Park which allows horses.
-Not near a park which allows motorized vehicles, especially not the type dedicated to four-wheelers, motorcycles, etc.
-On a dead-end road, cul-de-sac, or very little-used road, not near major fast roads in case a horse gets out. I've not had a problem with this but the idea of my horses loose near a busy road gives me nightmares.
-Within 1/2 hour of my current house. Originally, I was shopping for large beautiful places up to two hours away. I finally realized that if it were too far, even the weekend visit would be a chore. More important, any horse emergency, even with live-in stable help, would be difficult for me.
-Other horse properties around. This criteria evolved because I soon realized that although I might find a nice property near a park, if none or very few of the neighbors had horses, the use of the park could soon change to prohibit horse access. Also, there would be benefits of having like-minded neighbors, such as trading horse watching services, sharing horse product information, splitting the cost of large loads of hay, having knowledgeable people around who could look out for each other if a horse was down, or loose, or what have you, not to mention unforeseen and unanticipated benefits.
-Good neighborhood, low crime, which will maintain its value.
-Pretty property with a view.
-Fenced for horses.
-Legal access. This evolved because I found several nice properties in California which had no dedicated road right-of-way, something I found odd.
Of course I didn't get all of these, but I'm happy with what I found. In hindsight, I wish I had found a place with at least a permitted shack on it, because it would save me tons of money in permits and fees for new construction. I also wish I could have found a fenced property. The fences will be expensive.
Back on the subject: when I do build my fences, I will install gates at several access points to the park. Like Bacardi, I don't plan on letting everyone ride on my land. It's not necessary because the park is right there for the public, and I want privacy and security. I will grant access to my immediate neighbors -- not that they need it -- and people I know.