The rules stables are required to follow in regard to noise and events fall under The Right to Farm Act. However, the regulations vary from state to state. Local municipalities might also have zoning restrictions and regulations for farms, said Liv Sandberg an equine extension agent at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. These rules are based on farms following sound environmental stewardship practices.
“Each situation will have different dynamics, and different people will be more or less tolerant, so taking the steps to communicate and be diplomatic may go along way,” Sandberg said. “Something as simple as plowing their driveway in the winter with your plow may be the kind gesture that proves to be of great value.”
Building good will with neighbors is critical when it comes to events. Traffic flow, parking and noise can be concerning to some neighbors. Developing good relationships helps alleviate neighbors' concerns. Sandberg first recommends planning events around peak traffic flow to avoid adding congestion to busy roads.
“Provide traffic flow patterns for event participants to minimize disruption for neighbors when entering and leaving the equine facility,” she said. “Depending on how often events occur and what permanent signage is posted, consider posting temporary directions so event goers can drive directly to the farm and cause less disturbance when arriving.”
Limit congestion on the roads by offering ample parking areas on the farm grounds for trucks and trailers to maneuver. Similarly, have overflow parking available for trailers and spectator vehicles.
“Cars and trucks parked on the road or street in front of neighbors' houses usually does not foster good neighbor relations,” Sandberg said.
Noise can be equally bothersome to non-horse neighbors. Speakers and megaphones are necessary to effectively host equine classes and clinics. Investing in good-quality equipment and strategic placement ensures that participants can hear what is needed while being mindful of neighbors.
“Having a good sound system with several speakers in appropriate locations, such as in individual barns, can provide adequate communication at a volume that is acceptable to neighbors versus using one or two very loud speakers to cover the entire grounds,” Sandberg said.
Remember, neighbors might not know horses at all or what a horse business entails. Inviting them to the farm to discuss what you do and to show them around might help them understand and appreciate the horse farm instead of viewing it as a nuisance.
“Even if they don't like horses, they will have a better understanding of the farm,” Sandberg said. “This also can provide an opportunity for the horse farm owner to listen to any concerns and address them directly, as well as try to come up with some adjustments or accommodations that may resolve potential issues.”
Make sure that neighbors know that you are concerned about noise and traffic bothering them, and that you are doing all that you can to run your equine business while being a good neighbor.