Road rules for horse riders

People are permitted to ride a horse on the road provided that they abide by the road rules. Horse riders need to apply common sense to ensure they, and other road users, remain safe at all times.

If you observe any person breaking the road rules while riding a horse call the Police on 111.

Safety rules for horse riders

Safety on the road is all about recognising the hazards and minimising risk. You need to manage that risk by taking control of as many elements of your ride as you can: making sure you wear appropriate gear, choosing your route and time carefully, and making suitable allowances for young or inexperienced horse riders.

The following safety rules should be followed when riding a horse on the road:

  • Always wear a safety hat while riding. A fall from your horse could result in head-trauma.
  • Wear brightly-coloured safety gear (i.e. a high-visibility vest) as this increases your visibility and research has shown that it slows down drivers.
  • Ride your horse on the left-hand side of the road and as far to the left as possible.
  • Keep your horse on the side of the road whenever you can, but don't ride on footpaths, lawns or gardens. See WDC's Public Places Bylaw.
  • Don't ride more than two abreast. When there is traffic, reduce to single file. Single file is also sensible when the road is narrow or you’re approaching a bend.
  • Don't ride on the right of any moving vehicle.
  • If you're leading another animal while riding, always keep it on your left, away from the traffic.
  • If you're riding a horse or leading animals at night, wear reflective clothing and carry a torch.

You can view 'Information for horse riders' on the NZTA website.

Horse safety advice for young riders

Parents need to ensure their children have a good understanding of the road rules and how they apply to them and their horse.

They need to be clear on what they can expect from other road users – both good behaviour and bad behaviour.

Teach young horse riders how to signal to a driver to slow down by moving their hand up and down, and a raised hand should they need a driver to stop.

There are some essential items of equipment that must be worn while riding a horse, such as proper footwear (boots or shoes with hard toes and a heel) and a properly fitted helmet that meets current safety standards. 

The following website provides some basic guidelines to enhance your safety while riding a horse Visit the 'Horse and Rider' website.

Sharing the road

The road code offers safety hints for riders and drivers and suggests people in cars slow down, take a wide berth and don’t rev engines or sound horns. Those who don’t can potentially be charged with careless or dangerous driving.