horse on the road

As spring approaches, pedestrians, dog and horse owners, and cyclists are increasingly being pushed out. Unfortunately, not everyone is fortunate enough to live directly in the countryside. Going to the square often requires crossing traffic routes, especially in the city and near the city. The question that arises, especially for horse owners, is how to behave on the road. In order for the next trip to be carefree, the following article describes the (legal) characteristics in road traffic that must be taken into account.

Legal requirements

The starting point for the legal assessment of horses’ participation in road traffic is the Road Traffic Regulations and here in particular § 28 StVO. In accordance with Section 28, Paragraph 1 of the Road Traffic Law, pets and sedentary animals that can endanger traffic must be removed from the road. They are not allowed to walk on the road unless they are accompanied by suitable persons who can adequately influence them. Section 28(2) StVO states that any person who rides horses, drives horses or cattle or drives livestock is subject to traffic rules and regulations that apply to all traffic. In addition to Article 28 of the StVO, there are often local rules regulating the use of public spaces that must be taken into account. A feature of these regulations is that they serve mainly, for example, to ward off general dangers posed by animals and not to ward off dangers in road traffic – otherwise there would be a risk of violating federal law, because federal law regulates the road, Article 74 Paragraph 1 No. 22g [Haus/Krumm/Quarch/Krumm, Gesamtes Verkehrsrecht, 2. Auflage 2017, StVO § 28 Rn. 1].

‘Pet and sedentary animals’ can be used to describe all the animals in the home that are settled in Germany or Europe, such as dogs and horses in particular [MüKoStVR/Asholt, 1. Auflage 2016, StVO § 28 Rn. 2]. The obligation to keep animals that could endanger traffic off the road includes not only the actual route, but also hard shoulders, sidewalks, and parking spaces. [Burmann/Heß/Hühnermann/Jahnke/Heß, StraßenverkehrsR, 27. Aufl. 2022, StVO § 2 Rn. 18; MüKoStVR/Asholt, 1. Auflage 2016, StVO § 28 Rn. 3]. The major effort that must be made to keep animals off the street depends on the animal’s species on the one hand, and on the environment on the other. [BGH NJW-RR 1990, 789 (790); MüKoStVR/Asholt, 1. Auflage 2016, StVO § 28 Rn. 3]. This results, for example, in the need for particularly careful insurance in the vicinity of highways and congested roads.

Section 28 (1) sentence 2 StVO contains an exception to the principle that animals endangering road traffic must be kept out of the way. An appropriate companion of the animal is required for this. In addition, horses are required and it is mainly suitable to participate in road traffic [MüKoStVR/Asholt, 1. Auflage 2016, StVO § 28 Rn. 6]. On the contrary, this means that capricious horses should not be taken on the road. In the event of imminent danger, the accompanying person must be able to influence the animal in an appropriate manner [für Hunde: OLG Düsseldorf NJW 1987, 201]. This requires experience in handling the animal and the corresponding physical abilities. This can be questioned in children and the elderly. However, at this point, blanket statements are prohibited, as they always depend on the individual animal, its type and size [Haus/Krumm/Quarch/Krumm, Gesamtes Verkehrsrecht, 2. Auflage 2017, StVO § 28 Rn. 7]. Horses should always be led from the left, so that circumstance can also be used to calm a panicked person at the banquet [Spiegel SVR 2015, 445 (451)].

How the horses are equipped is judged differently, also taking into account the individual animal. If necessary, an unrestricted bridle shall be sufficient to comply with the regulations of the land, provided that it is compatible with the individual nature and habits of the animal and the rider has sufficient knowledge thereof [Siegel SVR 2015, 445 (451)]. A dock should not be put in place of a syrup, because increasing the effect of a dock can cause the animal severe pain, which cannot be classified as an appropriate means of calming a frightened animal. [OLG Karlsruhe r+s 1997, 111]but it can increase the state of panic.

Article 28, paragraph 1, sentence 3 and sentence 4 of the StVO also states that animals may not be taken out of the vehicle. The only exception to this is that dogs may be led off a bike. It is forbidden to ride a horse while using a bicycle at the same time. The purpose of these regulations is above all, and not only, that the person driving the animal can focus entirely on and drive the animal. [MüKoStVR/Asholt, 1. Auflage 2016, StVO § 28 Rn. 7].

If the horse in question is primarily suitable for road traffic, the rider must take into account traffic rules and regulations that apply uniformly to all traffic. This means in particular, taking into account Paragraph 2 of the StVO, which states the use of the road (by vehicles), that the animal must ride on the road (by vehicle). This eliminates the use of footpaths and bike paths. In addition, other paths, such as state paths, must be used in some cases, provided they are marked; Of course it is not allowed to drive / drive on highways, especially in relation to Section 18 Paragraph 9 of the Contraception Act [Haus/Krumm/Quarch/Krumm, Gesamtes Verkehrsrecht, 2. Auflage 2017, StVO § 28 Rn. 14 f.]. In addition, for example, the general rules of priority must be observed, the obligation to “stop” at red traffic lights or observe all traffic regulations.

Violations of Section 28 of StVO are administrative infractions. § 28 StVO is also a protective law pursuant to § 823 § 2 BGB, so that in the event of damage to third parties liability can result, in particular in addition to §§ 833f. BGB [Haus/Krumm/Quarch/Krumm, Gesamtes Verkehrsrecht, 2. Auflage 2017, StVO § 28 Rn. 17f.].

Riders and leaders should also familiarize themselves with the traffic lights regulating the use of trails and roads. If the bridle path is marked with explicit signs, there is an obligation to use the bridle path, so that no switch to the (vehicle) road is allowed. In addition, traffic lights can completely prohibit the use of a road or track. In addition, other road users can be explicitly warned about road users with horses. Whether riding can equate to driving a horse is judged differently. Dresden Higher Regional Court ruled on September 10, 2015, file number: OLG 26 Ss 505/15 (Z), that the ban on riding outside designated forest trails (according to Saxon Forest Law) does not include leading horses by bridle. In the previous decision of the Pirna Working Group, riding equaled driving. OLG Dresden justified his decision, among other things, by the fact that there was indeed a difference between “driving” and “riding” in the literal sense.

Otherwise, the corresponding regulations apply equally to transport drivers. Oldenburg OLG Referee Feb 24, 2014, Az. 1 Ss 204/13 [NJW 2014, 2211] I have determined that the value of the BAK limit developed for motorists under Section 316 of the British Criminal Code also applies to drivers of horse-drawn carriages. The absolute driving ability of the rickshaw driver must be confirmed by a blood alcohol concentration of 1.1 ‰.

When riding or guiding on non-public trails or roads, consider the regulations of the State Nature Conservation Act, the State Forest Code and Federal Forestry or the Federal Nature Conservation Act. There may be several ordinances (related to the municipality).

driving several horses

In principle, horses may only be led individually if they are separate, that is, if they are not tied together by reins [Burmann/Heß/Hühnermann/Jahnke/Hühnermann, 27. Aufl. 2022, StraßenverkehrsR, StVO § 28 Rn. 7]. Driving two horses at the same time, even wearing a halter and lead chain, is a violation of Section 28 Clause 1 Clause 2 StVO, whereby horses are generally used to drive on the left [LG Koblenz Schaden-Praxis 2014, 225].

Riding and driving in the dark

Riders are also under the obligation to light themselves appropriately in the dark, cf. § 1 and § 17 StVO, i.e. with a lamp on the left side [Burmann/Heß/Hühnermann/Jahnke/Hühnermann, 27. Aufl. 2022, StraßenverkehrsR, StVO § 28 Rn. 11.]. § 27 Clause 4 StVO applies to the Closed Equestrian Federation. Accordingly, the side borders of the units on horseback or on foot should be closed. If so specified (Clause 17 Clause 1 StVO), then this shall be indicated at least at the front by white-light non-strobe lights and at the back by red or yellow flashing lights.

riding badges

In many federal states, riding or walking horses must be specially marked with a riding badge, for example in North Rhine-Westphalia or Thuringia. This should be attached to the side of the horse so it is clearly visible. Issued by the responsible authority. It is usually valid for one year.

Constant conflicts with motorists and cyclists

Often conflicts arise with motorists and cyclists when riding or walking.

Even if he was a z rider. B. Riding on a bicycle path contrary to the prohibition and as a result of an accident with a third party, it does not mean that the traffic rules for the passenger are no longer in force, so that in the event of an accident there certainly must be taken into account the possibility of joint negligence of the cyclist to reduce requests [LG Frankenthal NJW-RR 2020, 1481]. The lateral distance required according to clause 5 clause 4 S. 2 StVO must be observed despite illegal riding on the course track. In LG Frankenthal’s view, what constitutes the relevant distance depends on the individual case, but it must be so large that a horse that has been crossed should not be expected to be surprised.

When a motorist passes passengers, the question often arises of what side distance should be maintained. According to OLG Celle, NJW-RR 2018, 728, a distance of at least 1.5-2 meters must be maintained. Under certain circumstances, the driver may be required to use the banquet in order to maintain this required side distance. Although the banquet is not part of the route, § 2 Para. 1 S. 2 StVO, it may seem appropriate and reasonable to use, that it is seen as permissible in these cases [Burmann/Heß/Hühnermann/Jahnke/Heß, StraßenverkehrsR, 27. Aufl. 2022, StVO § 2 Rn. 18]. This can be particularly the case if distance from the occupant must be maintained (OLG Celle NJW-RR 2018, 728) in order to prevent a collision.

Advice from a legal perspective

So that leaving the farm does not turn out to be a complete fiasco, roads or paths and routes that can be used for riding and driving should be indicated in advance. In addition, the animal must be extensively prepared for road traffic situations in order to minimize the risk of causing an accident.

Regarding equipment, it should be borne in mind that in any case this should be clarified with the insurance company (horse liability) requiring bridle etc. in order to maintain comprehensive coverage. For example, just a neck loop does not appear to be an appropriate measure to appropriately sway a timid horse.

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