All working horses must have a license which is issued by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's Office of Veterinary Public Health Services (VPHS).
All ponies, horses and other equines used in pony rides, horse rides, carriage rides, hayrides, or other work for profit, are considered rental horses and must be licensed with the office of VPHS. All such rental horse activities, including pony rides, must comply with the NYC Horse Licensing and Protection Law. Carriage horses shall not work more than 9 hours in any continuous 24-hour period, with a rest period of 15 minutes for every 2 pulling hours. Riding horses shall not work more than 8 hours in any continuous 24-hour period, with a rest of 15 minutes per riding hour. Whenever the air temperature reaches a high of 90°F or a low of 18°F, riding and carriage horses shall not be worked.
All horses are subject to inspection by employees or agents of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the American Society of People against Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)'s Humane Law Enforcement Unit, Department of Sanitation, New York City Police Department, or any other appropriate City agencies. Horse owners who do not comply with applicable laws and the above conditions may be closed, issued a Notice of Violation, ordered to cease working the horse and/or have their animals confiscated.
Failure to notify the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene of any changes in health of the animal will invalidate the right to use the animal. A horse license and the tag that is issued with each license are not transferable from one animal to another. All federal and state regulations regarding importation of animals into the United States and New York State must be adhered to.
Horses that are kept as pets and not used for rental or carriage horse purposes do not need a license. However, horse owners, and the horse stable operator where the horse is kept, must be able to provide proof of current rabies vaccination for the horse upon request.
The information on this page is designed to explain the application, regulatory compliance, and requirements for using a working horse in NYC. There are explicit conditions under which animals may be used for commercial purposes and failure to meet these conditions can invalidate the permit.