Dealing with Non-Horse Neighbors: Flies and Fences

Communication is key to minimizing problems with a horse farm's non-horse neighbors.
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As some communities encroach on what used to be farmland, keeping good relations with non-horse neighbors is essential.

Manure and flies are synonymous with horse farms and stables. Even the most immaculate barns have poop on the property, and that is prime real estate for flies. A manure management plan that reduces flies is important for horse health, rider comfort and good relationships with neighbors.

“Keeping areas outside where horses are fed cleaned up by removing wasted hay and manure is important,” said Robert Coleman, PhD, PAS, associate professor and extension specialist for the University of Kentucky. “This is a time to use an effective hay feeder on a high-traffic pad to reduce waste and mud and make clean up easier.”

Barns without access to fields to spread manure can consider compositing. Choose a location away from property lines with neighbors. When possible, choose a location that is out of the sight of neighbors.

“A barn owner can consider building a facility or building to contain muck and compost it,” he said. “While you are considering your neighbors, you need to be practical on how far from the barn it is. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) folks in your area can give horse owners some guidelines on placement and construction of a compost building.”

Cleanliness is the foundation of managing manure and flies. However, building relationships with neighbors can support a barn’s efforts to minimize tensions between a horse facility and non-horse neighbors. Barn tours that invite the community in to experience how the facility works allows neighbors to see how the business functions and the efforts taken to care for the horses and limit manure and flies. As a bonus, Coleman recommended offering the composted manure to neighbors for free for use in their gardens.

Using social media to highlight daily life at the barn and the process of taking care of the horses can build relationships with others in the community. Answering questions posted by visitors and posting videos highlighting the barn's day-to-day maintenance efforts can show how hard the farm owner or barn manager is working to care for the horses and be a good neighbor.

Remember that today’s neighbors aren’t familiar with horse lingo. Think of ways to relate technical terms to something the general public can grasp. For example, explaining trimming and shoeing as the equivalent of a manicure can be helpful.

Running a barn means long days. It’s easy to get stuck in a “silo.” Attending community meetings and other activities gives you an opportunity to interact with people who aren’t horse people.  Those also are the people you’re trying to reach in order to create new clients.

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