Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Land Owner's Perspective

I have continued de-spooking exercises once or twice a day with Gabbrielle.  She now accepts having a plastic bag on a stick circling her head and shaking around her ears and sides, but touching her with it is still a no no.  I did walk up to her with a bag wadded in my hand and groomed her with it.  She didn't notice until I walked in front of her to switch sides and the bag made a crinkling noise in my hand.  Then she took off running.

Feeding the horses out of the bag may backfire.  Though I succeeded in getting Gabbrielle to approach the bag to get her treats, Rock and Lostine were totally mugging me.  Rock was practically knocking me down to get his nose in the bag.  Lostine was sucking my entire hand into her mouth.  In the future I will have to lock those two up and just feed Gabbrielle and Bombay out of the bag.

At some point here, Gabbrielle is going to have to get so bored with all these plastic bag games that she'll just start ignoring all of it.  I'm wondering if doing these sessions for longer periods of time will make a difference.  I've been only working with her in 15 minute increments and stopping as soon as she makes progress by either holding still while facing the bag, touching it with her nose, or showing signs of relaxation.  So far she has only cocked a hoof, but the rest of her body was still on edge.

Lostine got out and about this weekend, and she was a perfect lady.

We had a horseback rider cut through our property one day, riding past several no trespassing signs.  She got all the dogs next door barking and my horses whinnying.  She stopped by my horse trailer, which concerned me, because it wasn't locked.  No one has cut through in a while, so I haven't been too worried about getting burgled.  As she rode past, she looked right into all the windows of our house.  Rude.  Just rude.

She had a little preschooler riding behind her with his arms around her waist, neither of them were wearing helmets, and her horse was dancing around, snorting, all riled up because of the dogs barking and my horses calling out.  I decided to not even approach her, because I didn't want an accident to happen.  She nearly ran into my husband as they were both coming around a wall on the driveway and she complained that she's lived here 15 years and people keep moving in who won't let anyone ride through.  My husband explained the problems with erosion and liability, and then excused himself before her horse flipped over backwards.

Of course, with me it's an issue of privacy and freedom as well.  What if I had just stepped out of the shower and was naked when she was riding by looking in my windows?  We bought four acres for a reason.  We don't want people right up against our windows.  You may recall that for a while there in my old house, a man who lived in my neighbor's guest house figured out that if he stood in a certain spot in her backyard, he could see me get in and out of my shower each morning.  (We had a problem with mold forming from the shower's steam, so we had to keep the window open.)  We moved here to get away from people like him.

I've been on both sides of the coin, having horses and needing space to ride, as well as owning properties that attract trespassers due to their locations and park-like settings.  These are my feelings on the subject:

1.  When you buy some land, you only own what is within the property lines.  You do not own the whole neighborhood.  You must respect your neighbors' wishes regarding the land that they own, and riding your horse right past several no trespassing signs is not respectful.

We've had several people do that, and then if they happened to run into us, they asked for permission to do what they already did.  Permission is something you ask for before you do the act.  Forgiveness is what you ask for after you do the act.

2.  How long someone has lived in the neighborhood is irrelevant.  Being in one location longer does not give a person the right-of-way to go where they please.  It's not like getting the corner office because you have seniority.  What counts is who spent the money to buy the land.  Our property was up for sale for many years before we bought it.  Any of these locals had the opportunity to purchase it.

Before we moved here, I was planning on buying the property next door to our old house the next time it went up for sale, because everyone who ever lived in that house became a thorn in my side, and I didn't want anyone living there anymore.  However, I knew that until I actually bought the place, I couldn't control what went on over there.

This is a subject that is painful, because I hated it when I lived in a rural neighborhood and all these city folk kept moving in, knocking down barns and corrals, and building huge RV garages that blocked their neighbors' views of the mountains.  Worse yet were the ones who turned what used to be land for livestock into motocross tracks.  So, I definitely understand the pain of horseback riders who are losing their vehicle-free routes between their homes and public land.

3.  If one neighbor gives you permission to ride through his property, clarify where his property begins and ends.  One of this lady's arguments was that our neighbor to the south gave her his permission to ride through.  What she doesn't understand is that his property does not reach back to the street.  She has to ride through our property to get to his property, so she needs our permission too.  She also lied and told my husband that she had only ridden through our neighbor's land, but I saw her riding along the perimeter of my arena and stop at my horse trailer, both of which are directly behind our house, not our neighbor's.  Since she was dishonest, she won't be welcome here.

4.  When someone is kind enough to allow you to ride through, respect their privacy.  Keep your eyes on the trail.  Don't peep into the windows of their house.

5.  Also, if you are given permission to ride through, understand that means just you -- not you and all your friends and all their loose dogs.  The land owner may have decided that you are okay, but he doesn't know any of these other people, and he may not want loose dogs on his land because he has his own loose dogs and he doesn't want them getting into fights with other dogs.  Also, if his loose dogs charge your horse while you are on his land, you need to decide whether you want to ride there anymore under those circumstances.  If you ask him to keep his dogs locked up, you will probably wear out your welcome, because you will be limiting the land owner's freedom.  Running into loose dogs on public land is one thing, while running into dogs that live on the private land you are a guest on is another thing.

(On a side note, we know one blogger who was seriously injured when a land owner's dogs frightened her horse, but in that case I shame the land owner because she was standing right there and did not even attempt to call her dogs off.)

When one of my neighbors gave me permission to ride on her property and use her arenas, I had trouble with her horses and dogs being loose and scaring my horse.  She also was often out using a tractor and power tools, which spooked my horse.  However, I knew that if I wanted to use her space, my horse and I just had to deal with it.  I wasn't about to ask her to stop whatever project she was working on and lock up all of her animals so that I can ride safely.  Instead, I just lunged my horse in her round pen until it showed signs of settling down, then rode.

6.  If you are given permission to ride through, clarify what route the land owner wants you to take and don't stray from it.  One of the fastest ways to lose your privilege is to ride through someone's garden, letting your horse eat along the way.

7.  Be aware that horses create trails, which are often low spots in the ground where vegetation stops growing.  Trails create a perfect path for water to follow during rainstorms.  Try not to create trails that would cause water to run into someone's garage, house, or barn.  In our case, we have an arroyo that channels flash flood waters through our property.  We want that water to be directed away from our house, but the horseback riders were cutting into the banks by riding up and down them, which was creating tributaries and pulling dirt down, building up the bottom of the arroyo and causing flood waters to rise, in addition to shrinking the amount of land we have to build on.

8.  Be conscious of how you may be inconveniencing the land owner and try to minimize it.  When we were allowing riders to come through, I found myself constantly having to alter my habits in order to avoid causing someone else to get into an accident on my land.  I had to pick up tools laying in the field.  I had to put out orange construction cones where ditches were dug.  I had to lock everything up in case someone had sticky fingers.  I had to leave on outdoor lights so that people could see where they were going at night.  I had to be extra cautious when backing my vehicles out of the garage because there were often horseback riders directly behind me.  I had to keep my dogs on leashes so that they wouldn't startle horses.  I had to keep my windows and doors closed so that my dogs wouldn't bark at the horses and scare them.  If I was doing a construction project, I had to stop when horseback riders came through so that my movements and noises wouldn't spook their horses.  I also got into the habit of pausing before walking around the corner of the house, so I could listen for hoof beats, because I didn't want to startle someone's horse.

Of course, these were all choices I made because I am sincerely concerned about the welfare of other people and their animals.  I didn't have to do any of it, but I'd rather do all of that than to live with knowing that something I did caused a horse or rider to get hurt.

These are just some things to think about the next time you ride on or through private land.


aurora said...

Good points, common sense & courtesy. Guess some people just don't have either. I would have a huge problem with strangers peering in my windows.

Didn't realize you added to your herd, Rock sounds like a nice addition.

Laura Lee Evans said...

Very, very good rules. Love this post. Nosy neighbor you have there it sounds like. Peeking in the windows!! OMG.

And I TOTALLY hear you on the RV sheds. We have 2 of them right out our back door. Laurels are going up along the fence this fall. Fingers crossed they grow fast and strong :)

achieve1dream said...

People are so dishonest and inconsiderate! I'm impressed with your husband's ability to remain calm. I would have been pissed and started waving a shotgun around lol. I wish you could just completely fence off your property, but that is expensive and impossible with the arroyo. Hopefully she got the hint and won't be back!