Caring for Horses Working in NYC

The Office of Veterinary Public Health Services is committed to the well-being of all NYC working horses. Here are some recommendations for keeping your animal safe and healthy in NYC.

Horse Health

  • In order for a carriage horse to be able to work in NYC it must be at least five years old at the time horse is placed into service in any rental horse business and licensed.
  • No carriage horse older than 26 years of age shall be licensed to work in a rental horse business.
  • Proof of horse’s age may be certified by a licensed veterinarian or certificate from official horse registry, as well as the Health Department's health certificate.
  • Owners have to insure that during the months of November through April every carriage is equipped with a heavy winter horse blanket large enough to cover the horse from crest of neck to top of rump.
  • During periods of wet weather in temperatures of 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees C) or below horses shall be provided with a waterproof horse blanket of a lighter material.

Horses Working in NYC

Horse Care and Legal Requirements


  • Standing stalls for carriage horses shall be 60 square feet or larger and have a minimum width of 7 feet.
  • Standing stalls should be configured to permit a carriage horse to turn around and safely lay down.
  • Horses should be un-tied when stabled. Maintain stalls clean and dry and with sufficient bedding. Bedding shall be changed at least once daily, and shall be at least three inches deep
  • Stables should have adequate heating and ventilation. An internal temperature of at least 35 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees C) shall be maintained in stables during the winter months.

Feed and Water

  • Insure that appropriate and sufficient food and drinking water are available.
  • All horses must have free access to clean water and mineralized salt (red salt) while in the stables, at all times.

Health Care

  • Required/Recommended Vaccinations:
    • Rabies
    • Eastern/Western equine encephalitis
    • West Nile virus
    • Rhinopneumonitis virus
    • Tetanus
  • Schedule a veterinarian examination twice a year.
  • Horses shall be kept clean and in an ectoparasite control program.
  • Horses shall be examined and treated for internal parasites as well.
  • Keep your horse suitably trimmed or shod. Horses shall be trimmed or shod at least every three to six weeks or sooner, if necessary.
  • Most horses will need their teeth filed or floated once a year by a veterinarian. Horses with dental problems may need dental work more than once a year.


  • New York City law requires that all rental horses must be kept clean.
  • All horses should be groomed at least once daily.
  • Fly control is also required by law for rental horses.

Working and Rest

  • Carriage horses may not work for more than nine hours in any twenty four hour period.
  • Riding horses shall not be at work for more than eight hours in any twenty four hour period.
  • Owners shall not allow a horse to be worked on a public highway, path or street during adverse weather or other dangerous conditions which are a threat to the health or safety of the horse. A horse being worked when such conditions develop shall be immediately returned to the stable by the most direct route.
  • Horses must get at least fifteen minutes rest for every two hours working. Horses must be offered water regularly while working, including during the winter.
  • While working horses must be allowed to eat and drink at reasonable intervals
  • Daily exercise is essential for the health of horses and helps to prevent health problems such as tying up and colic. During periods of slow tourism all horse owners should arrange for their horses to receive daily exercise. This may consist of driving horse without passengers or walking the horse by hand.
  • Horses when tied must be secured by a rope attached to halter not the bridle.
  • It is illegal for a horse to work when the temperature reaches 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees C) or higher or when the temperature drops to 18 degrees Fahrenheit (-8 degrees C) or lower. If this happens during the course of a ride the operator must cease work and return horse to stable.

Horse Equipment

  • A stable halter shall be on the horse or hung outside each stall at all times for safety or an emergency.
  • Keep saddles, bridles, bits, road harnesses and any other equipment properly fitted and in good repair.
  • Every carriage horse should be equipped with a manure catching device affixed or attached to the carriage.
  • Heavy winter blankets that cover the horse from crest of the neck to the top of rump are required during the months of November through April.
  • Waterproof blanket is required at all times during wet weather and the temperature falls to 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees C) or below.


A layoff of workers, especially one that is temporary, NYC Law states that:

  • Carriage horses shall receive no less than five weeks of vacation or furlough every twelve months at a horse stable facility which allows daily access to paddock or pasture turnout.
  • Proof of such vacation or furlough shall be provided upon request to the department or the ASPCA.

Working Temperature

  • Horses must stop working and be brought back to the stable when the temperature reaches 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees C) and above, or when it reaches 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees C) or above and the Equine Heat Index is 150 of above, in the summer, and 18 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees C) or below in the winter.
  • Protection from harsh weather conditions is required for all carriage horses. 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 (13 degrees C) or lower.
  • The Health Department's weather alert system uses a central weather station’s temperature readings to provide alerts during extreme weather. The alerts can be a useful tool for all horse drivers, horse owners and stable owners.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I get my horse’s second health exam? Do I have to submit it to Department of Health?

All rental horse owners are required to have their horses receive a biannual health examination. The biannual or second exam is required 4 to 8 months prior to horse's license expiration date. For example, if the license is issued on January 1, 2012, you are required to submit the second bi-annual Rental Horse Certificate of Health between May 1, 2012, and September 1, 2012. The original Health Certificate must be submitted, by mail or in person to the Office of Veterinary Public Health Services, 125 Worth Street, CN66, New York NY, 10013, within 30 days of the veterinarian's examination.

What if my horse is out of state on furlough when the second health exam is due and I cannot find a NYS licensed veterinarian?

The biannual exam may be performed by an out of state veterinarian if the horse is on furlough. However, the Certificate of Health form issued by the Health Department must be used. Additionally the veterinarian performing the examination must be licensed in the state the horse is being examined in and provide their license number and state issued on the form. Horse Examinations for new and renewal licenses must be performed by a New York State licensed veterinarian.

What happens if I do not send the biannual health certificate within the four to eight months timeframe?

Failure to submit Health Certificates at the required intervals may subject you to Notices of Violation and suspension of your horse’s license.

When do I have to send my horse on furlough? For how long should my horse be on furlough?

Carriage horse owners must furlough their horses for at least five weeks every 12 months.

What kind of proof of furlough is accepted? When do you need it?

  • If your horse is furloughed outside of New York State: please submit copies of the interstate Health Certificate(s) of Veterinary Inspections completed by an appropriately licensed and accredited veterinarian for travel out of New York and travel back into New York. Additionally, provide the name and address of facility horse was furloughed at.
  • If your horse is furloughed within New York State, submit receipt(s) that include the name, complete address and phone number of the facility or facilities where the horse was furloughed, a notarized letter or affidavit from the person boarding the horse, or the owner of the facility indicating the dates of arrival and departure showing the length of time that the horse was furloughed in each facility. Proof of furlough needs to be received by the time your horse’s license is scheduled for renewal.

What happens if I do not send proof that my horse was furloughed?

If the Office of Veterinary Public Health Services does not receive proof of furlough by the time your horse’s license is scheduled for renewal, your horse license may not be renewed and your horse will not be able to work until you have submitted satisfactory proof of required furlough.