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The very first thing that you should do is to sit down with your neighbor and discuss your needs to use the easement and understand your neighbor's needs regarding the animals. You will probably come to an arrangement that keeps away hard feelings and fosters mutual respect. Try to work things out on your own.
If you're not able to sit down and come to an agreement of your mutual rights and responsibilities, then offer to go to mediation to help settle your differences. There are free and low cost mediation services that will settle neighbor disputes.
The last thing that you want to do is litigate this issue. It's emotionally taxing and financially draining. That should only be a last resort.
Okay, now to answer your questions: If the easement is in writing, then the terms of the written agreement will control. If you don't have a copy of it and it is recorded, then ask your title company for a copy. There is a procedure for your neighbor to extinguish the easement, but that requires a lawsuit. So most likely you have not waived your right to use the easement, even though you haven't used it and the neighbor put a gate across it. Since you are the dominant tenement, you are responsible for maintaining the easement. You can start using it now, but again, I would urge you to have a conversation with your neighbor first. People get weird about others driving across their property unannounced. It is okay for your neighbor to put a gate across the easement, but not okay for him to lock it without giving you a key. When using the easement, you must take care not to damage your neighbor's property, including his animals.
Your rights and responsibilities re: the easement are exclusively about your relationship with your neighbor and the way to enforce any of your or your neighbor's rights and responsibilities is with litigation. Which I'm advising you to avoid.
If your neighbor damages the road, then he will have to repair that. All normal wear and tear, you will have to maintain. But again, this is a discussion you should have with your neighbor about who will do what.
Yes, there is a procedure for your neighbor to have the easement extinguished and there are multiple theories depending on the facts and circumstances, but an extinguishment of the easement requires a judge's ruling after litigation. He can't just declare that you gave it up and block you from using it.
I can tell you about your rights and responsibilities and of your neighbor's, but ultimately to enforce any of this, you and your neighbor will have to litigate. What do you do if you want to use the road and your neighbor puts a lock on the gate? You can't just cut the lock because now you're in the wrong. People do things that are unlawful and rather than resort to self-help, the rule of law requires you to go to court to settle your differences. That's why I explained a hierarchy of escalating dispute resolution: (1) try to resolve it on your own, (2) offer mediation, then (3) sue him.
I'm sorry if I haven't given you the answer that you wanted. I've tried to answer your questions and give you a broader understanding of how best to proceed with this issue. You've asked what you think is a direct question: what are my rights and responsibilities as a dominant tenement of an easement. But there is no quick and easy answer to that broad question.
Your rights and responsibilities are contained within the easement document, as I've already advised you.
There is not one statute or even a set of statutes that I could point you to about the laws of easements, and even if I did point you to a statute or even a case, it would not contain all the law regarding easements. Easements combine contract law with real estate law and most of it is common law going back to the days of Medieval England. If you want to look up the law on your own, then I would tell you to go to your local law library and read a treatise on easements, such as CEB California Easements and Boundaries: Law and Litigation, for a fuller understanding.
There are a thousand different hypotheticals that could happen, but the law on any one of them depends on the facts.
I wish that I could help you more, as I've tried to be as thorough as possible in my responses to you.
I wish you good luck. I'll opt out and remove my answers so that you can ask again of another attorney. Thank you.