Can You Ride A Horse On The Road Safely, And What Are The Rules?

January 4, 2023
can you ride a horse on the road

Have you seen horse riders on a public road before? If you have, you may question the laws and safety of doing so. Are you allowed to go horseback riding on the road, and what are the rules?

Some states in America have specific rules regarding horses on public roads. For the most part, however, you are allowed to ride horseback on the road, provided you wear the correct attire and follow the road rules. You may not ride a horse on a highway, pedestrian path, or bike trail.

two mens riding horse on the traffic road

There are many things to consider when riding a horse on the road, such as licenses, safety, and rules. If you want to go horseback riding on the road but don’t know if it is allowed, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll discuss everything one should know about the rules and safety of riding a horse on the road.

Is It Legal To Go Horseback Riding OnTheRoad?

When considering riding a horse on the road, one question will likely come up first – is it legal to do so? Since horses have been used as transportation for many years, you may assume there aren’t any laws against riding a horse on the road.

That is true for the most part. Most states and cities don’t have specific laws regarding horse riding on roads. If you research the question for your area, you’ll likely find that the only requirement is that you follow the rules of the road and adhere to specific equestrian road signs where indicated.

But this says little about how to legally and safely ride a horse on the road. Some states like Louisiana, Idaho, Mississippi, and New York have specific rules regarding horseback riding on open roads. You can find these laws on the road laws and legislature of the state.

Do You Need A License For Horse Riding On A Road?

Another question you may have before going horseback riding on an open road is whether you need a special license or permit. Fortunately, you aren’t required to have any special documentation when horse riding on a road.

It is recommended, however, that you have adequate horseback riding experience when taking your horse on an open road. Even the best-trained horses can spook easily in traffic. If this happens, you must remain calm and regain control of your horse.

Many professional horse trainers also recommend training your horse to remain calm in traffic. This includes desensitizing your horse to certain traffic noises and lights and knowing precisely what to do if the horse gets spooked.

You can do a specific Horse Riding Safety Course in the United Kingdom, which teaches you the basics of horse riding and covers horse riding on public roads too. If you don’t have horse riding experience or aren’t sure what to do when riding in traffic, it is highly recommended that you complete this course first.

Can You Get A Fine For Horse Riding On A Road?

While it’s uncommon, getting a fine while riding a horse on the road is possible. There have been instances where horseback riders received fines for careless riding. For example, some riders have received fines for riding their horse on the road while intoxicated, texting while horseback riding, and riding in a manner that is not perceived as safe.

The traffic officer’s right is to give you a fine if they feel you are not riding safely or properly. You may also be fined for failing to adhere to the usual traffic rules or if your clothing isn’t appropriate or reflective enough for horseback riding.

Is It Legal To Ride A Horse Carriage On A Road?

While there aren’t specific permits required when riding a horse on the road, you will require a permit for a horse carriage or horse-drawn buggy. You can enquire about the specific permits required at your local traffic office. Your carriage will likely need to pass the road safety inspection before you are permitted to use it on the road.

You’ll also need a permit to transport or guide people on a horse or in a horse-drawn carriage, as this activity is dangerous. You may receive hefty fines and penalties if caught using a horse-drawn carriage without a permit.

Horse carriage

Is It Safe To Go Horseback Riding On The Road?

Seeing that there aren’t many specific rules for riding a horse on the road, you may still wonder about the safety of doing so. Is it safe to go horseback riding on the road? If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll already know the answer to this. The road is not the safest place to go horseback riding.

There are many additional elements to horseback riding on the road, which can be dangerous. Your horse can get spooked and run into traffic or throw you off its back into traffic. Motorists may not know how to act around your horse and can honk their horns or shine their lights in your horse’s face.

They can also speed by you, leading to your horse becoming scared. If you don’t know exactly how to handle a startled horse, you can cause an accident. Fortunately, you can ride a horse on roads with moderate safety if you and the horse are properly trained for the situation.

By using the correct road signals, riding safely, and wearing the appropriate clothes, you can ensure that you, your horse, and the motorists around you know exactly what to do. Wearing the right clothes is imperative when horse riding on the road, as it makes you more visible and draws attention to your signals. This is what you should wear when horseback riding on the road:

  • A helmet (equestrian-approved)
  • Riding boots
  • A reflective bib

In addition, you can put a reflective tail guard on your horse, so it is also more visible. Stick to light, neon colors during the day and highly reflective colors at night.

In addition to wearing the right clothes, there are also some other basic things to keep in mind when riding a horse on the road that will help to keep you, your horse, and motorists safe.

  • Ride your horse on the correct side of the road according to your country.
  • When leading your horse, keep it to the pavement’s side of you and place yourself between the horse and the road.
  • When riding a horse and leading another, keep the led horse on the pavement’s side.
  • Use proper road signals to show motorists to slow down or stop if your horse is not under control.
  • Keep in a single file when horse riding in a group.
  • When riding alone, tell someone where you are going so they know where to look if something happens to you.

You must remain calm and act responsibly when horseback riding on the road. This will improve your experience and ensure the safety of yourself and those around you. Clearly communicate with motorists, as they might not know what to do when coming across you and your horse.

When planning your trip, try to keep off the public roads as much as possible. If you need to use a public road, choose the road with the least traffic, robots, and traffic circles. These roads will be easier to navigate on horseback and make your journey safer. Try to keep your time horse riding on the roads as short as possible, and avoid horseback riding in peak traffic.

Although we’ve established that most states don’t have specific rules regarding horse riding on the road, there are some places where you cannot go horseback riding. So let’s consider where and when you can ride a horse on the road.

Where And When Are You Allowed To Ride A Horse?

Considering the safety issue with horse riding on the road, you may wonder if there are alternative routes you can take. Ultimately, using the quietest routes that don’t take you through the city center or heavily trafficked areas will be best.

But just because you are trying to avoid areas with more traffic, it doesn’t mean you can use whatever route appeals to you. Some routes and paths are prohibited to horseback riders, just like they are to motorbikes. Let’s consider a few areas where you aren’t allowed to ride your horse.

Can You Ride A Horse On The Highway?

You aren’t allowed to ride a horse on the highway. This is because horses and horse-drawn vehicles are considered slow-moving vehicles. Riding a horse on the highway can put you and motorists at extreme risk. For example, if your horse gets spooked by a truck or fast-moving car, it can run into traffic and cause an accident.

Keep off the highway and other main roads as far as possible when horse riding. You will receive hefty fines and penalties if you are caught horseback riding on the highway. Even if you aren’t caught, riding a horse on the highway isn’t safe, and it certainly isn’t worth the risk.

men riding a horse at night

Can You Horseback Ride On The Sidewalk?

You are also not allowed to ride a horse on the sidewalk, on pedestrian paths, or on bike trails. While a horse isn’t allowed on the highway, it is still considered a vehicle. Therefore, you should adhere to the same rules as any other vehicle and can only ride your horse on vehicle-approved roads.

Going horseback riding on a pedestrian route or bike trail can lead to accidents and serious injuries. Cyclists and pedestrians may not know how to react to a horse. They can spook the horse or get injured when the horse passes them on the trail.

Can You Horseback Ride On The Road At Night?

Although it isn’t illegal to ride a horse on the road at night, it certainly isn’t recommended. Riding a horse on the road at night increases your chances of getting into an accident. You and the motorists will have impaired vision, making it more difficult to see each other.

This could lead to accidents if a motorist accidentally hits your horse or you run into someone or something while riding. Wear plenty of highly reflective clothing if you must go horse riding at night.

Bring a white light to shine in front of you and a red one to shine behind you so motorists can clearly see you. The same applies when horse riding in the rain, fog, or any other time when there is poor visibility.

Can You Ride A Horse In A Park?

Although you cannot ride a horse on pedestrian roads, there is an exception when it comes to public parks. Many parks, such as Central Park, permit horseback riding in some regions of the park and at specific times. There is likely a park near you where horseback riding is permitted.

Ensure you are allowed to ride your horse in the park before going. When horseback riding in a park, keep the pace steady and don’t run around the park scaring other people and their pets. Adhere to all the park rules, or you will be prohibited from coming again.


You are legally allowed to go horse riding on the road in most areas. However, some places have specific rules regarding where and when you may ride a horse, while most places simply state that you must follow the traffic rules.

It isn’t too safe to go horseback riding on the road. Still, you can do so with moderate safety if you follow the right safety precautions. You aren’t allowed to ride a horse on a highway or pedestrian road.



I'm Bo, the owner of Smarter Horse. Helping horses be smarter by educating their people.  To find out more about me, click here

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    1. Wow! Glad nobody go hurt. It’s always a good idea for the rider to wear the same gear that hunters wear – vest, etc. As well, putting a glow in the dark stick in the horses tail gives extra notice. Unfortunately, if horse is on the road, that’s a whole other issue.

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