You can ride freely in the countryside, as horse riding is included in the Right of Public Access. But choose your path carefully and avoid soft ground to prevent damage.
You must obtain the landowner’s permission before arranging organised or regular horse riding events on their land. If your events might have significant impact on the natural environment, such as damage to the ground, you must apply for a consultation with the county administrative board.
Horse riding is causing severe pressure on the Right of Public Access. Equestrian sports are growing rapidly. About 100,000 people in Sweden go in for horse riding, and a growing number of companies offer riding on Icelandic horses. This is a very positive trend, but it does bring greater risks of damage to the ground and conflicts with landowners and other users of outdoor recreation areas.
There are quite a few things you can do as a rider to reduce the risk of ground damage and conflicts:
You must not ride within the grounds of a house: people living close to natural areas have the right not to be disturbed. How far the grounds of a house are considered to extend depends on local conditions. There is no rule saying exactly how far away from the house you must keep. What matters is the risk of disturbance to the occupants.
Cultivated ground is also off limits for horse riding. This includes lawns, plant nurseries, park plantations and the like. You may not ride over the grounds of a house or over cultivated ground at any time, whether there is a risk of ground damage or not.
Because of the damage that horses’ hooves can do to the ground, the Right of Public Access is more restrictive for horse riders than for those on foot.
You must not ride in areas where there is a risk of damage to the ground. If you ride repeatedly in the same place the risk of damage may be so great that you will need permission from the landowner. The same goes for organised riding by large groups.
Although newly planted forest areas do not count as cultivated ground under the Swedish Penal Code, riding through a plantation of tender tree plants would certainly be regarded as trespassing.
Horse riding is normally allowed on private roads. If it would cause severe damage to the road, however, a landowner can obtain permission to erect ‘no horse riding’ signs.
Horse riding on private roads in built-up areas may also be controlled under local traffic regulations. A landowner whose road is damaged by regular horse riding or trotting training can claim damages.
Jogging and hiking trails are designed to be used by people on foot. There is no general ban on riding horses on them.
Many Swedish municipalities however have issued regulations banning horse riding on marked jogging trails and prepared ski trails. The ban is often indicated by the ‘No Horse Riding’ road sign.
You must find out for yourself what the local situation is. The municipality and the police can give you information about local regulations.
National parks and nature reserves have special rules which usually restrict the Right of Public Access. Horse riding is generally only allowed on marked riding paths or trails. In some areas it is prohibited altogether. You will find English-language information folders and noticeboards around the area that explain what is allowed. You can also ask the local municipality or county administrative board.
There are a number of signs relating to horse riding in the countryside: