Is It Legal to Ride Horses on The Road in Louisiana?

A look at Louisiana Law pertaining to horseback riding on the roads.

In rural Louisiana, it is common to see horseback riders traveling on the roads, and I sometimes get asked, whether or not it is legal. This question comes up because there seems to be no clear answer when searched on the internet. I wrote this article to provide an answer to the query, is it legal to ride horses on the roads of Louisiana?

Is it legal to ride horses on the roads in Louisiana? Yes, Louisiana Revised Statutes 32:22 states: Every person riding an animal or driving any animal-drawn vehicle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this Chapter, https://www.legis.la.gov/legis/Law.aspx?d=88195

Even though there are articles on the internet that take a different position, horseback riding on the roads in Louisiana is legal. But be aware that your rights on the roadways are not unlimited. Check out the Prejean case below to read about a car and horse collision case that went to trial. But first, take some time and learn how to make your journey safer and more fun.

Horseback Pre-ride Road Safety Check

The first thing to keep in mind is that many drivers are unfamiliar with horses and will pass you too fast or too close. You should only take a horse on the road who does not spook easily. To properly prepare for your trip follow this pre-ride checklist:

Horseback Riding On The Road

What Do You Do If Your Horse Gets Difficult to Control on the Road?

Louisiana Law and Horseback Riding Liability on the Road.

In Louisiana, a person who suffers injury or damages because of another person’s negligence has the right to file a claim against the person that caused the injury or damages. You have the right to recover all losses you suffered because of the negligent acts.

The rights are established in Louisiana Civil Code Article 2315(A) which states: Every act whatever of man that causes damage to another obliges him by whose fault it happened to repair it.http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/Law.aspx?d=109369

This statute has been interpreted by case law to mean, if a person causes injury to another person through his fault, the offending person must pay damages to the victim injured. Of course, many variables establish specific damages for specific types of cases that must be met to make a valid claim.

CYRIL PREJEAN, ET AL. VERSUS STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, ET AL.

As stated earlier Louisiana Revised Statutes 32:22 allows horseback riding on public roadways, however, riders are required to follow the same rules as vehicles and act in a reasonable manner.   In the Prejean case, two people were horseback riding on a road in Calcasieu Parish when they were struck by a car traveling approximately 45 miles per hour.

The riders filed a lawsuit, the case went to trial, and the horseback riders won a money judgment against the driver. The court found the automobile driver 100% at fault. His attorney filed an appeal. Let’s look a little closer at the facts presented at trial.

The horseback riders were riding on the road at dusk, the horse was brown, and did not have any illumination. The riders were wearing dark clothing and did not have any reflective gear. The driver was not speeding and didn’t notice the horse on the road until it was too late to avoid hitting them. The horse died in the accident.

At trial, the defendant argued that the horse should have been equipped with lights to travel on the roads at dusk legally. Louisiana law does not provide support for this argument. However, the Court of Appeals found that persons riding horses on roads commonly traversed by motor vehicles must bear some responsibility in causing accidents depending on the facts of the case.

The State of Louisiana’s Court of Appeal reviewed the facts and reduced the defendant fault allocation from 100% to 50%. The overriding factor for the court was that riding a dark horse in dark clothing at dusk was not smart, and the horseback riders have to take some responsibility for their carelessness. Click here to read the case. https://la3circuit.org/Opinions/f

One other tidbit from the ruling is they determined that a horse is not required to be equipped with lighting, the law only applies to horses pulling a wagon, buggy, or other apparatus.