You’ve probably seen the pictures of people riding horseback down Baltimore streets. Is it allowed?

Horse riders head west on North Avenue from Hoard Street in this undated handout photo.
Horse riders head west on North Avenue from Hoard Street in this undated handout photo.

Recent sightings of people on horseback on Baltimore streets have prompted some to wonder: Is that even legal?

Yes — but it’s regulated.


Riders must have license from the city health commissioner and follow a bunch of other city laws.

Riders must be at least 18 years old and have a license to ride the horse, unless the horse is being led by a custodian with a license, according to the Animal Control and Protection section of the Baltimore City Health Code.

To receive a license, which must be renewed annually, applicants must include an affidavit certifying they have never been convicted of animal abuse, cruelty or neglect, and demonstrate they are "capable of humanely handling” a horse, the health code says.

Horses also must be examined by a veterinarian once a year, and custodians must retain the animals’ records for at least three years.

You can’t ride if it’s too hot or too cold. Horses may not be ridden or used to pull carts when the temperature is greater than 92 degrees or lower than 20 degrees, in a snow emergency or other adverse weather conditions, according to the health code. During warm weather, custodians “must park the horse in the shade when practicable," the health code says.

Custodians are required to provide the animals with “a lighted, clean, dry and properly ventilated stable or barn,” cleaned daily, with room enough for the animal to turn around. They must inspect the horse and its harness and other equipment each day. A horse identification card, with information about the horse, its owner and its stable, must be available for inspection anytime a horse is on the street.

Injured, diseased, lame or sick horses may not work and must be treated immediately by a veterinarian, the health code says. No horse may be disposed of, “except in a humane manner.”

A city health department spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

The “Horses, Carriages, Etc." section of the Transit and Traffic section of the Baltimore City Code prohibits horse-drawn carriages without reins “sufficient to guide and restrain them;" riding “at a gait other than a walk,” except by police officers and the military performing their duties; and turning horses loose in the city.

No horse — regardless of whether it’s attached to a carriage — may be ridden or led on sidewalks or other footways, the city code says. Riding under intoxication of drugs or alcohol is prohibited.

Anyone with a horse-drawn carriage or other cart “shall walk by the head of the shaft or wheel-horse, holding, or within reach of the bridle or halter,” the code says.

The health code sets the penalty for violations of the Animal Protection section at “a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than 90 days or both fine and imprisonment for each offense.”