Open public space or land, managed by your local Council, often provides a safe place to ride across or on which to exercise your horse. Many Councils have “rules” or by-laws in relation to the use of the land by horse riders. Written for a person who may be a local trail access worker (a volunteer who is interested in keeping trails open) the information applies equally to horse riders who take an interest in their local community.
For South Australian horse riders & trail users, some basic information to assist in understanding more about Council managed open space is provided. The information is subject to change and Horse SA is not responsible for an individual person’s interpretation. It is recommended to visit your local council website to check what the by-laws might be and also any signage on site of the land on which you wish to ride.
A very powerful way of managing horse access to public land is through by-laws. There are extensive procedures a Council must follow to create a new by-law, which are outlined in the Local Government Act 1999. According to the act, the by-laws need to be reviewed every 7 years.
The by-laws may for example—
times; e.g. beaches
A council may also make by-laws about the use of roads for the movement of animals
It is very important for local trail access workers to encourage horse owners to participate in the review of by-laws. By—law reviews will be have a public consultation opportunity for comment.
Keep an eye out for wording that implies “Horses are prohibited from all public land unless a trail is provided”…. and a trail is of course, rarely if ever provided (or not enough of them)
More common (and acceptable) is wording that implies that horses are permitted on all public land unless a sign is put up/resolution of Council has determined that no horses are permitted
Beach access for horses is often captured in relevant Councils by-laws, check the wording
By-laws relating to horses on roadways has caused little issue in SA to date, but keep an eye out on how a local Council may choose to apply it in very localised situations.
Local horse riders are rarely aware of their local by-laws, causing on occasions for them to be broken and complaints to Council to be made. Often enough, these complaints get out of hand very quickly, end leading to a large amount of volunteer and Council staff time being wasted to sort it out.
As a trail access worker, be vigilant on even small matters. Look for opportunities through local clubs and flyers in local fodder & saddlery stores to educate horse riders about what the local rules (By-laws) really mean for them. You will have to be creative in getting this sort of regulatory message across in a meaningful way.
As an example – several cases are reported to Horse SA each year of horse riders who did not immediately follow Council signage to pick up manure from a public car park area shared with horse floats. Often the intent was to do it after the ride, this was too late. The manure mess gets reported by an irate local resident or tourist and before long, the issue blows up (Radio, letters to the editor, even the TV news, Council reports etc for weeks on end) with the very real threat of removing horses from the beach altogether, due to a car park issue – not a direct beach issue.
It is with these types of problems that trail access workers will have to advocate on behalf of the larger horse owning population and expect to spend many, many hours on keeping access open.
Consider seeking help from those who would be considered leaders in your local horse community to undertake the broader promotion of
being a “good neighbour horse rider” in your district.
Register of By-Laws
Councils are required to keep a register of by-laws for public viewing at their office. Today, Councils also place their by-laws online.
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