Horses churning up sports fields, reserves and playgrounds in a New Zealand district are set to be dealt with by infringement fines.
The Taupo District Council, in the central North Island, says fines will be imposed against owners following an increase in complaints.
Riding a horse is a popular form of transport in rural parts of Taupo district, particularly in Turangi and surrounding areas.
Taupo District Council’s environmental compliance manager, Donna Little, said although the council appreciated it was a way of life for many, safety needed to come first.
“Horses are being taken on to reserves and sports fields where they are leaving behind droppings and carving up the surface,” she said.
“The damage being caused is making it dangerous for people to use these facilities, which are there for people, not horses.”
Little said council staff had seen horses tethered in council reserves without supervision and it was possible some were not trained.
“There is the potential for a horse to kick if approached, which means people, especially children, could suffer a serious or fatal injury.”
Horse owners also had an obligation to clean up their animal’s droppings on roads and footpaths in residential areas, she said.
Little said the council would take action against offenders to keep the community safe.
Horses in prohibited areas would be impounded and transported to Taupo at the owner’s expense. These costs would need to be paid before the horse was released. They could also receive an infringement notice.
“Horses are common in the community and this is a wonderful thing if the owners are responsible and considerate,” Little said.
“However, we have been getting an increasing number of complaints and now have to deal with this by taking action.”
Little outlined the local rules around horses:
- Horses cannot be tethered on a public reserve.
- The rider or owner of the horse is responsible for removing horse droppings and disposing of the material appropriately.
- Horses need to be kept in adequately fenced paddocks to ensure they do not wander on to roads and put the public at risk.