Is It Illegal To Use Horse As Transportation? (Important Facts)

By Zunnun Ahmed •  Updated: 11/03/22 •  6 min read

Riding horses was one of the main forms of transportation in the early 1900s. However, horse-driven vehicles became less popular with the introduction of automobiles.

Today, there are several laws governing the use of horses as carriers. The laws vary from one state to the other regarding where and when you can ride your horse.

So, is it illegal to use a horse as transportation?

It is acceptable to use a horse as transport in many places apart from where it is forbidden. Horses are regarded as non-vehicle, and they are governed by traffic rules.

A horse owner doesn’t require a license to use a horse as a vehicle. But you might need a license if you drive a buggy in various areas or pick up travelers in a carriage.

In this article, I will be discussing the laws that regulate horses, the benefits and drawbacks of horses, and whether you can ride a horse on the streets and in public parks.

Let’s get into it!

What are the laws regulating horses?

Most states that allow horse riders on the road should follow all traffic laws. Driven or ridden horses share roads with motor vehicles and they are governed by traffic law. A horse rider should also practice caution and maintain the road open for easy traffic control.

Before you use your horse on highways or byways, you should understand the highway code that lists several things:

Different states have various laws that regulate. If you want to find out the laws of using horses for transportation in your state, click here.

You can search for specific laws that govern your state by searching “horse riding”, “animal riding”, “livestock”, “non-motorized vehicle” or “horse” for the best results. 

horse on street

How common is it to see horses being used for transportation?

Many years back, horses were the main vehicle. Their popularity began to decrease with the development of motor vehicles. While cars are an integral part of our lives, horses are still common in conveyance across the world. They are common in New York City and other cities in the United States.

Horses are commonly used for riding. In the Western world, they are popular for jumping, racing, and showing. Less developed countries still use horses to transport goods.

See related article: Pregnant mares and hay bellies may look similar, but there are some important differences between the two. Learn about the key characteristics that set these two conditions apart.

Are there any benefits to using horses?

If the laws in your state allow using horses as carriers, there are many benefits you can enjoy from using a horse-drawn vehicle. One of the main benefits of using horses is that they can cover a large distance faster than people.

Horses have amazing speed and endurance which makes them perfect for transporting goods to various places and carrying people. Horses are great for off-road transport because they can jump ditches and obstacles, which a motorized vehicle can’t.  

Another benefit of horses is you spend most of the time outdoors, make new friends, and have fun. Horseback riding is also good for your mental and physical health.

What are the drawbacks of using horses?

While the horse has several benefits, there are also some drawbacks.

Let me show you!

Horse riding can be a tiring activity that takes much of your time. Also, when horse riders make their horses pull a horse transport vehicle like a horse-drawn carriage, it is regarded as cruel. This is because a horse rider forces the horse to dodge traffic or toil in extreme weather when transporting goods.

Walking all day on hard surfaces can also make horses develop leg problems. When using horses for transport, sometimes they breathe exhaust fumes in cities leading to lung problems. The animal can also get stressed when working in busy cities like New York.

Humans also risk personal injury associated with horse-drawn carriages during transportation. There are also instances where the animal-drawn vehicle gets hit by motorists or bicycle riders.

Lastly, horses used for transportation are not well protected by the Animal Welfare Act. This means that the officials who should keep the same do not have the time to check the carriages and ensure horses get reasonable care.

Related: Read more about camels vs horses. Camel vs horse: what should you know? (important facts)

is it illegal to use a horse as transportation

Can you ride a horse through the streets?

It is a common practice to ride horses in the countryside for training, transport, or recreation. But is horse riding legally through the streets?

Basically, horses are allowed on public roads legally. However, horseback riding is not allowed in most cities because of the potential danger that can result when you mix motor vehicles and horses.

If horse riding is allowed in your city, you should avoid riding on footpaths or pavement. You should also avoid riding your horse on cycle tracks, instead, use bridleways. Whenever you find equestrian crossings, use them to make it easier to cross the roads.

See also: You could train your horse in 30 days and save money! Learn more in this article about how to do it.

Can you ride a horse in a public park?

Recreational horse riding is allowed in some parts and in others, it is not. When riding your horse in the city’s park, always use bridle paths designated for that purpose. Every horse rider requires a valid pass when riding in various regional parks.

Since many parks have walkers, mountain bikers, and other users, some people do not find horse riding in parks a good recreational activity. Some park users might not know how to act when they see horses. Therefore, you should control your speed limit in parks with more human traffic.

Related: Learn all you need to know about owning and caring for a 3-year-old horse with this comprehensive guide.

Is a horse a vehicle?

No, a horse is not considered a vehicle. Although it can be used for transportation, a vehicle is typically a device created or designed for transporting people or goods. Horses are living beings used for riding, pulling carriages, or other forms of transportation.


Horses have been used as the primary transportation for hundreds of years. Since their domestication, people have been using wagons and carts on horses.

However, today, the popularity of horses has decreased with the invention of motor vehicles. At this point, I hope you have grasped some important facts on the legality of using horses for vehicles.

Before you ride a horse in a city, ensure you understand the state law requirements for horse riding to avoid finding yourself in trouble.

Zunnun Ahmed

We are a group of horse enthusiasts. We want to provide information and tips to help others learn more about horses, how to care for them, and how to enjoy them.

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