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Horses Working in NYC

All working horses in NYC must have a license issued by the Office of Veterinary Public Health Services (VPHS). Working horses include all horses that are offered to the public for hire and owners can get information about how to license their horse at NYC Business Express.

In order to operate a horse drawn carriage in NYC drivers must have a current horse driver’s license issued by the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs. Only applicants that successfully pass the Horse Drawn Carriage Operator’s Course may apply for a horse driver’s license. If you are interested in operating a horse drawn carriage, and would like to apply for the Carriage Operator’s Course, please visit the Health Academy.

Rental Horse Licensing And Protection Law
  • Important Points of the Law
    • Carriage horses shall not be at work more than nine hours in any continuous twenty-four hour period.
    • Riding horses shall not be at work more than eight hours in any continuous twenty-four hour period.
    • Carriage horses shall receive no less than five weeks of vacation or furlough every twelve months at a horse
      stable facility.
    • Every rental horse required to be licensed hereunder shall be examined by a veterinarian prior to its use in a rental horse business, at interval of 4 to 8 months from license date and at time of license renewal.

Changes to the New York City Administrative Code and Health Code

New York City Health Code §161.21 (PDF), now requires that all horse owners and stable operators maintain proof of rabies vaccinations for all horses that are maintained or brought into New York City for any purpose. This includes privately owned horses that are not licensed to work. Proof of rabies vaccination must be provided to the Department upon request.

Local Law 10 of 2010 amended Administrative Code provisions require:

  • Larger stalls (at least sixty square feet, with a minimum width of 7 feet) that allow for carriage horses to turn around safely and lie down.
  • Five weeks of furlough every year for carriage horses.
  • Both riding and carriage horses require veterinary exams every four to eight months, in addition to the yearly examination.
  • Carriage horses cannot be younger than five years to be placed into rental service and not older than 26 years to be licensed.
  • From November through April, heavy winter blankets must be available in cold weather to cover a carriage horse from crest to rump. Additionally waterproof blankets of lighter material shall always be available when it is raining and the temperature reaches 55 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
  • Written emergency protocols and insurance information kept in all rental horse stables.
  • Rates for the use of horse drawn carriages increased to $50 for the first 20 minutes.
  • Current valid motor vehicle driver’s license required to enroll in the DOHMH training program for drivers of horse drawn cabs. And an applicant who has not previously held a horse drawn cab driver’s license will be issued a probationary cab license.
  • In addition to the time restrictions already specified, no horse drawn cab may be operated between the hours of 3:00 am and 7:00 a.m., seven days a week.
  • New area restriction – a horse drawn cab may not be operated/driven below 34th Street in Manhattan.
  • Every horse drawn cab must be equipped with an emergency brake system. Carriages also require sufficient lighting and reflective materials including the location where licenses are affixed. Manure catching devices must be attached to carriages.

► See Caring for the Working Horse in NYC

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I register a new rental horse?
Two forms are required to register a new rental horse.

  1. The Horse License Application (PDF, filled by the owner of the horse).
  2. The Rental Horse Certificate of Health (PDF, filled by a NYS licensed veterinarian).

Original forms are submitted to Veterinary Public Health Services either in person or by mailing to Veterinary Public Health Services, 125 Worth Street, CN66, New York, NY, 10013. The fee is $25.00. Only check or money orders are accepted and must be made payable to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

How do I renew my horse’s permit?
Rental Horse renewal applications are mailed to the Rental Horse Permit Holders approximately 45 days prior to expiration of the permit. Please ensure the information on the renewal application is correct and submit with a Rental Horse Certificate of Health. The Certificate of Health must be completed by a NYS licensed veterinarian and the original Certificate of Health, must be submitted within 30 days of the veterinarian’s examination. Renewal form and health certificate may be submitted in person or by mailing it to the Office of Veterinary Public Health Services 125 Worth Street, CN66, New York, NY, 10013. The fee is $25.00. Only check or money orders are accepted and must be made payable to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

need to change my horse to my corporation name. How do I do that?
A Horse License application form must be filled out with the corporation as the new owner. Additionally you must be up to date with applicable biannual exam and furlough at time of your submission. Submit the application in person or by mailing to Veterinary Public Health Services, 125 Worth Street, CN66, New York, NY, 10013. No fee is required.

I sold my horse to another owner. What do I need to give the health department?
The original owner must inform Veterinary Public Health Services within 10 days of the disposition (sold, retired) of their rental horse by mail or in person. Additionally the original owner must provide a bill of sale to the new owner for their records.

I just bought someone else’s rental horse. Can I continue using the horse as a rental horse and keep the old license tag?
Horse licenses are non-transferrable. The new owner must obtain a license for such horse within fifteen days after the date of the transfer of ownership if the horse is to be used for rental purposes. The new owner will need to comply with the new license application process and fees.

I lost my horse’s tag. How do I get another one?
A horse License application must be filled out with the phrase “Lost Tag” written across the top. All furlough and biannual exams must be up to date at time of submission. The fee is $25.00. Only check or money orders are accepted and must be made payable to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Submit the application in person or by mailing to Veterinary Public Health Services, 125 Worth Street, CN66, New York, NY, 10013.

At what temperature must the horses be brought back to the stable?
All rental horses must stop working and be brought back to the stable when the temperature reaches 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32oC) and above in the summer and 18 degrees Fahrenheit (8oC) or below in the winter.

How long can a horse work in NYC?
A Carriage horse must be five (5) year of age before it can start working in NYC and can only work until it reaches twenty-six (26) years of age.

How often is the Carriage Horse Operator’s Course given?
The course is offered four times a year - in January, April, July, and October. It is 12 hours in length, and is conducted over two days. There are video presentations and a written exam on the first day, and a practical exam on the second day. See the dates.

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Last Updated: August 20, 2012