Control of Horses Act 1996 & Council Bye Laws

Own a Horse? Here's a Checklist:

  • Is it in a control area? (Most local councils have controls areas)
  • If so, do you have a horse licence? Obtained from your local council
  • Your horse must be microchipped (and registered)
  • Your horse must have a passport
  • The premises must have an Equine Premises Number
  • Buying or Selling? You must be 16 or over
  • And more, see below

Control of Horses Act 1996

Dublin City Council (DCC) Control of Horses Bye Laws 2010
Made under the Control of Horses Act 1996


Control of Horses Service Dublin City council provides a control of horses service in order to address the problems arising from practice of irresponsible horse ownership in the City area. Problems associated with keeping such horses in the city include neglect and cruelty suffered by horses, damage to public property including parks, sports pitches and grass verges, danger posed to public safety and general nuisance posed by presence of horses in public places.

Under the Control of Horses Act 1996 a horse may be seized and impounded if it is:

  • a)  A Stray Horse, or
  • b)  Causing a nuisance, or
  • c)  Not under adequate control, or
  • d)  Posing a danger to persons or property, or
  • e)  Posing a threat to the health and welfare of persons or other animals, or
  • f)   Being kept in a control area, without a horse licence in respect of it entitling the horse to be kept in that area, or
  • g)   Not identifiable or capable of identification as may be required by Section 28, or
  • h)   In or being kept or ridden or driven in an area contrary to any bye laws made under section 47. 

Seizure Of Horses

Horses which have been seized for offences under the Control of Horses Act 1996 or Dublin City Council’s Control of Horses Bye laws 2010 are transported to the City Council’s officially designated pound. A detailed description of the horse is taken and it is also scanned for a microchip. The vet issues any treatment deemed necessary. If the horse does not have a microchip, one is inserted.

Horse Reclaim Conditions

Individuals, who want to reclaim their horse, must produce a horse passport and all the relevant documentation that is required before their horse will be released. Under Dublin City Council’s Control of Horses Bye Laws 2010 ‘The City Council may recover from the owner or the keeper of the horse all fees payable in respect of the horse, including fees for keep, veterinary fees and transportation fees incurred by the Council.’ Fees are based on the per horse cost to the City Council of providing the service annually and are reviewed on a yearly basis.

The current cost of reclaiming a horse is €700 per horse plus an additional €20 per night per horse for horses held over and above the statutory 7 day period.

Horse Licences

A horse licence issued by Dublin City Council is required to legally keep a horse in the Dublin City Council’s control area. Licences are issued to keep horses at specific locations which have been inspected and approved for this purpose by the City Council’s appointed veterinary inspector. The City Council will only issue a licence where there are adequate facilities to ensure the safe keeping of the horse and where the requirements of the Control of Horses Act and Control of Horses Bye Laws are satisfied . A licence application form can be obtained from:

Dublin City Council, Civic Offices, Block 4 Ground Floor, Wood Quay, D8

The licence costs €31.74. Following submission of a licence application the Council’s veterinary officer will contact the horse owner to arrange an inspection.

EU legislation dictates that all horse owners must be in possession of a horse passport to identify themselves as the owner of the animal and to have a detailed description of your animal including the microchip number. Details of approved passport issuing bodies can be obtained from the Department of Agriculture Website.

Licensing Unit, Community, Culture, Economic & Emergency Services Department, Block 4, Ground Floor, Civic Offices, Wood Quay, Dublin 8 

South County Dublin Control of Horses Bye Laws 2014 (extracts) 

View full text here


3 No person shall (subject to Articles 3(a) ,3(b) and 3(c) of these bye laws) keep or  have charge or control of a horse in the control area without a current licence issued by Dublin City Council being in force in respect of the said horse.


4a. No person shall at any time have, keep, ride or drive a horse in a public place except in such portion thereof as may for the time being be set apart to be used as an equestrian ride or carriageway or market or fair area and is clearly identified as such.

4b. Notwithstanding the provisions of 4(a) a person may have a horse on a public road provided the horse is licensed under the provisions of the Act, is fitted with a bridle and is adequately controlled by a person over16 years of age.


  1. Where a person is permitted to have, keep, ride or drive a horse in a public place he shall at all times ensure that the horse is wearing a bridle and is under his/her control so as to prevent injury or nuisance to persons or damage to property. 


  1. Where a horse is kept at a premises (not being a market or fair) within the Control Area the owner or keeper of the horse shall be responsible for the following:
  2. A valid horse passport shall be in force at all times for any horse kept, in accordance with relevant legislation.
  3. The person keeping the horse shall be the owner or legal occupier of the premises in which it is kept.
  4. Stabling shall be provided for a horse and shall at all times be suitable as regards construction, size, number of occupants, lighting, ventilation, drainage and cleanliness and shall comply with the standards of construction outlined in Schedule A hereof. Access to site of stable must be by means of passageway/road/street/driveway which measures at least 5 ft at its narrowest point.
  5. Dublin City Council, on veterinary advice, reserves the right to issue licences for horses, where the dimensions of the stabling provided do not meet the standards in c(i) and where, in all the circumstances of the case, including the working conditions of the horses and the alternative accommodation, Dublin City Council approves the accommodation is adequate for the proper keeping of horses.
  6. Potable water shall be constantly available.
  7. An adequate amount of wholesome and suitable food shall be supplied regularly.
  8. Where the horse is not at grass food shall be stored in a dry, secure and suitable place and suitable bedding material shall be provided.
  9. Where the horse is kept at grass there shall be maintained at all times adequate pasture and shelter for the horse. Where from time to time adequate pasture is not available, there shall be an adequate amount of wholesome and suitable food supplied regularly to the horse.
  10. The horse shall be adequately exercised and rested and visited at regular intervals. Evidence of access to adequate exercise facilities shall be provided.
  11. All reasonable precautions shall be taken to prevent and control the spread among horses of infectious or contagious diseases.
  12. Sufficient care, including veterinary care, shall be taken of the horse.
  13. Adequate precautions shall be taken for the protection of the horse in the event of fire.
  14. Only equipment and tackle suitable for the purpose shall be used in connection with the horse.
  15. Adequate accommodation shall be provided for storage of forage, bedding, stable equipment and saddlery.
  16. Manure or other noisome or offensive material shall be removed and disposed of as soon as possible to avoid causing a nuisance to adjoining owners or occupiers.
  17. Preventing any injury or unnecessary suffering to a horse either through the use of spurs, goads or sticks or by the improper tethering of the horse. 


11a. Where an authorised person or a member of the Garda Síochána suspects that a person is in breach of these Bye-Laws and directs the person to desist from so offending, the person shall obey the direction of the authorised person or a Garda Síochána.

11b. An authorised person or a member of the Garda Síochána may seize and detain any horse where he has reason to suspect that the horse is being kept, or ridden or driven in an area contrary to these Bye-Laws.


  1. A person who contravenes a bye-law shall be guilty of an offence.


  1. Every person who shall offend against any of the foregoing Bye-Laws shall be liable for every such offence on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €1,500.00 or to imprisonment not exceeding six months or to both.



Height = 3.7m (12ft), if sloping, lowest point = 3m(10ft). 

Width x Length = for smaller horses, i.e up to 14 hands (148cm at shoulder), 3.7 x 3m (12ft x 10ft), for horses from 14 hands up to 16 hands (between 148 and 163cm at shoulder) 3.7m x 3.7m (12 x 12ft), for larger horses i.e. over 16 hands (over 163cm at shoulder), 3.7 x 4.3m (12ft x 14ft).

Roof =  weatherproof, durable, non-flammable, giving rise to no marked variation in temperature of stable.

Floor = impervious, slip proof, slope towards door of 1 in 60 to external drain.

Internal surfaces of walls; impervious and easily cleaned. Stable to be dry.

Doors 1.2m (4ft) wide and 2.1m (7ft) height in two halves, strong and secure. Top of lower half safely protected against horse chewing it. No internal protrusions in stable by which horse could injure itself.

Lighting = Adequate and safe lighting.

Air = Adequate ventilation - minimum of 42m3 (1500 cub ft) per horse with 6 complete air changes every hour and no draughts.

Fingal County Council Control of Horses Bye Laws

More information here.

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Control of Horses Bye Laws

More information here.