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I am hoping to connect with Cherry Hill about the definition of the basic keeping of horses.  I live in Massachusetts and recently purchased a 12+ acre parcel for the purpose of building a barn and both indoor and outdoor riding rings.  We are living on the property.  I have obtained my Animal Keeping Permit and Building Permit from the Town.

One of the abutters in not pleased with the prospect of my project and is objecting through various means.  I am trying to connect with experts in the care and keeping of horses to help confirm that horses are “kept” in stables/barns and paddocks (turnout) and the indoor riding ring is not where horses are “kept”.

I greatly appreciate your time and consideration.

Regards, Lisa


Hi Lisa,

The definition of horsekeeping, I’m afraid, has about as many definitions as there are horsekeepers ! It can range from a bare bones dirt lot to deluxe accommodations and hand-on care. Sadly some poor horsekeeers do make a bad impression on non-horse people and it is no wonder why problems arise.

Responsible, conscientous, mindful horsekeeping does indeed include barns, pens, paddocks, turnout areas and daily care. However, many times when time and money constraints arise, horsekeepers cut corners and those shortcuts can result in unsightly changes to the property and possible sanitation and health issues for neighbors.

In terms of a legal definition, I’ve been contacted over the years by various townships, cities, and counties as they try to establish legal parameters for keeping horses. Number of horses per acre, types of fencing, the distance buildings and horses must be from adjacent properties, fugitive dust that is churned up in paddocks and outdoor arenas and much much more.

Each locale has its own laws and wording so it would be best for you to work your appeal within the wording of your specific laws. Stating things appropriately for Larimer County Colorado for example might be inappropriate for your location and  might cause an unintended issue to arise. 

If you care to write more specifics, please feel free. In the meantime, be sure to use my book Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage as a reference guide. And browse the articles on my website horsekeeping.com

Best of luck,


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Cherry: Do you cover cross fencing and electric fencing in any of your books?  We just moved and my copies of your books are still packed away somewhere.

Mary Rose

Hi Mary Rose,

Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage, 2nd Edition has a 37 page chapter devoted to fencing with many color photos, diagrams and illustrations. There is much information on electric fencing and cross fencing.

Here’s a summary of that chapter:

Chapter 11 Fencing

Planning
Posts
Gates
Fence Types
Wood
Wood Preservatives
Buck Fence
PVC
PVC Coated Wood
Pipe Fence
Continuous Fence Panels
Wire
Wire Rail and Coated Wire
Miscellaneous Fencing
Electric Fence
Riding Fence
Comparative Cost of Fencing
Fencing Turnout Areas
Panels

On Horsekeeping, my website, I have some general information on planning fencing which I will post here:

No single type of fence will be suitable for all of your plans.  It could be perfectly logical for you to have five or more types of fencing on your horse acreage for your various needs: pens, paddocks, runs, pastures, round pen, arena and so on.  Good fencing serves many purposes.  It keeps horses separated and in a particular place away from the residence, lawns, crops, vehicles, buildings, and roads.

Fences maintain boundaries and property lines.  They promote good relationships between neighbors.  Fences decrease liability as they lessen the chance of a horse doing damage to other’s property; they decrease the chance of a horse getting on the road and causing an accident; and they can be devised to keep people, especially children and animals (especially dogs and other horses), off the property.  Good fencing is designed to keep horses from getting hurt whether the horses are turned out or being trained.  And finally, attractive fencing really can set off an acreage and add to the value of the property.

One of the main considerations as you choose your fencing materials is that the risk of injury is greater and more common with horses than with other livestock.  Since a horse’s main purpose is movement, leg injuries, which are frequently associated with fence accidents, can put a horse temporarily or permanently out of service.  Safe fences for horses are sturdy and well-made.  Barbed wire is not a suitable horse fence.

Other factors to consider when choosing fencing are materials that are sturdy, low maintenance, highly visible, attractive, and affordable.

When laying out fence lines, avoid acute angles which can cause a horse to become cornered by other members of the herd, even if only in play.  When running, whether from fright or exuberance, horses will go through or over fences.  Four and a half feet is the absolute minimum fence height to discourage horses from jumping.  Five to six feet is better, especially for stallions, the larger breeds, or those specifically bred and trained for jumping.

Best of luck with your new property !

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