You can ride freely in nature as horse riding is included in the Right of Public Access. However, you should choose your path carefully and avoid soft ground in order to prevent damage.
You must obtain the landowner's permission before arranging any organised or regular horse riding events on their land. If your event could significantly impact the natural environment, including damaging the ground, you must apply for a consultation with the county administrative board.
Horse riding is having a major impact on the Right of Public Access. Equestrian sports are growing rapidly. Around 100,000 people in Sweden enjoy horse riding and a growing number of companies offer riding lessons on Icelandic horses. This is a very positive trend. However, it carries a greater risk of damaging the ground, as well as disputes with landowners and users of outdoor recreation areas.
Choose the right path across rough land
There's quite a lot you can do as equestrian to reduce the risk of damaging the ground and/or getting into disputes:
- Avoid riding on soft trails and on trails commonly used for hiking and jogging. Also, stay away from marked or prepared ski trails.
- Avoid riding on sensitive ground, such as meadows, pastures, or on lichen and fens.
- Be particularly careful during the spring and autumn when the ground is wet and mushy.
- Remember that horses' hooves can damage the roots of spruce trees. This can cause root rot and the loss of valuable timber.
- It is a good idea to speak to the landowner first if you are planning to ride in the same area on a regular basis. It is better to do it this way than for the landowner to have to contact you later.
You are not permitted to ride within the grounds of a house: people who live close to natural areas have a right to not be disturbed. How far the grounds of a house extend depends on local conditions. There are no rules that state exactly how far away from a house you must remain. What matters is the risk of disturbing the occupants.
Cultivated ground is also off limits to horse riding. This includes lawns, plant nurseries, park plantations, etc. You are not permitted to ride across the grounds of a house or across cultivated ground at any time, whether or not there is a risk of damaging the ground.
The risk of damaging the ground is what counts
Because of the damage that horses' hooves can cause to the ground, the Right of Public Access is more restrictive for equestrians than for those on foot.
You must not ride in areas in which there is a risk of damaging the ground. If you ride repeatedly in the same location, the risk of damage may be so great that you will require permission from the landowner. The same applies to organised riding by large groups.
Although newly planted forest areas are not regarded as cultivated ground under the Swedish Penal Code, riding through a plantation of tender tree plants would certainly be regarded as trespassing.
Riding permitted on private roads and tracks
Horse riding is normally permitted on private roads and tracks. However, if such riding would seriously damage the road or track, a landowner can obtain permission to erect a "no horse riding" sign.
Horse riding on private roads in built-up areas may also be subject to local traffic regulations. A landowner whose road is damaged by regular horse riding or trotting training can claim compensation.
Local bans on jogging and hiking trails
Jogging and hiking trails are designed to be used by people on foot. There is no general ban on riding horses on such trails.
However, many Swedish municipalities have issued regulations banning horse riding on marked jogging trails and prepared ski trails. The ban is often indicated by a "no horse riding" sign.
You are responsible for familiarising yourself with the local conditions. The municipality and the police can provide you with information about local regulations.
Special rules in national parks and nature reserves
National parks and nature reserves have special rules that usually restrict the Right of Public Access. Horse riding is generally only permitted on marked riding paths or trails. In some areas it is completely prohibited. You will find English language information folders and notice boards in the area that explain what is permitted. You can also ask the local municipality or county administrative board.