Of horses, neighbors, and common courtesy

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When I grew up there was open space, woods, farms and places to play. Many people kept horses in their back yard and tons of trails were nearby. I remember spending my summer days wandering woods and fields that no longer exist.

Then came the 80s and eastern Worcester county was overrun with development.  McMansions replaced woods and fields. Newcomers did not appreciate the inconvenience of living near livestock. Towns passed laws to appease them. The town I grew up in overdeveloped into a near continuous maze of expensive boxes with small lawns. Woods are gone. There are no longer any working farms. The remaining trails are on “conservation” land not accessible by horses. Not that there are many left in town.

It is sad.

One town over, Grafton fared much better. Development was tempered with open space requirements. Miles of trails remain.  There are still some open fields and horses.

Those of us with horses should respect our non-horse loving neighbors. Not everyone is thrilled at the sight of a horse passing their house.  Nor do they appreciate “gifts” left in the road.

It is important we respect this.  It only takes a few moments to clear the road of droppings. It is common courtesy and goes a long way to keep the peace with neighbors. Not every rider feels this way.  Recently I heard a third hand account of a rider being rude to a neighbor who asked them to clean up their horse’s mess. What a shame. I’d hate to see this behavior hurt the rest of us to who try to be good neighbors. We have to use the road to get access to the trails. What if we were prevented access?

At the same time, our neighbors should use common sense when passing riders on the road. Over the past few weeks my horse has been spooked several times by trucks and cars. One young woman was speeding down the dirt road we were on. I asked her to slow down and when she came up beside me she actually sped up and laughed. Not only was that rude, it was against Massachusetts law, which requires drivers to slow down when approaching livestock.

We share the town and the roads. It would be sad to see the horses pushed out of town because we can’t be nice to one another. It doesn’t take much effort to be respectful and courteous. And it is the right thing to do.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Family, horses, Living in the moment, Responsible horse ownership

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