In many respects, Nevada is a throwback to the wild west. Particularly in many of the more rural areas, where it is not uncommon to find people riding horses through town. Horses are wild animals, however, and can be dangerous if not properly controlled while riding. Therefore, the lawmakers in Nevada have created penalties for anyone who recklessly rides a horse on a public street.

What are the laws that regulate recklessly riding a horse?

The laws relating to the reckless riding of a horse are governed by NRS 202.530.

NRS 202.530 – Reckless riding or driving of a horse on public street or highway; exceptions.

  1. Except as otherwise provided in subsection 2, a person is guilty of a misdemeanor who:
    1. Rides or drives a horse upon a public street or highway in a manner likely to endanger the safety or life of another person on the public street or highway.
    2. While riding or driving a horse upon a public street or highway, creates or participates in any noise, disturbance or other demonstration calculated or intended to frighten, intimidate or disturb any person.
  2. The provisions of this section to not apply to a peace officer who rides or drives a horse while performing duties as a peace officer if the peace officer:
    1. Is responding to an emergency call or is in pursuit of a suspected violator of the law; or
    2. Determines that noncompliance with any such provision is necessary to carry out his or her duties.

There’s really a law relating to riding a horse recklessly?

There certainly is. Remember, outside of Las Vegas, Reno, and Carson City, Nevada is sparsely populated, with some counties boasting fewer than 1 resident per square mile. There are a lot of ranchers living in Nevada, and even more people who would rather ride their horse in to town than waste the gas by driving.

Consequently, the Nevada Legislature has determined that laws relating to the reckless riding of a horse are necessary.

Okay, so how does one ride a horse “recklessly”?

There are really only two ways to ride a horse “recklessly”:

  • To ride on a public street or highway in a manner that would endanger the safety or life of another person or other people on the street or highway; or
  • To ride the horse in such a way as to intentionally create a noise or other demonstration intended to frighten, intimidate or disturb any person. In other words, to use the horse to frighten or intimidate another person.

PLEASE NOTE: These two possible forms of “reckless” horse riding are intentionally vague, allowing prosecutors to take a look at all of the surrounding circumstances and choose whether to file charges or not based on more than a cold reading of the law.

What are the possible penalties?

Anyone charged with recklessly riding a horse will be facing a possible misdemeanor conviction, which will carry with it:

  • Up to 6 months in jail; and/or
  • Possible fines up to $1,000.

Are there any Defenses?

Yes, of course there are. Some of the possible defenses include:

  • Peace Officer in scope of duties – A Peace Officer who is riding a horse in the performance of his or her duties is not guilty of reckless riding if:
    • He or she was responding to an emergency;
    • Is in pursuit of a criminal; or
    • He or she makes a reasonable determination, given the situation, that violating NRS 202.530 is required in order to properly perform his or her duties.
  • Lack of Evidence – As with any crime, the prosecution bears the burden of proving every element of the crime “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If there is not enough evidence to uphold this high level of proof, then the charges should be dropped or dismissed.

What should I do if I’ve been charged with a reckless horseback riding?

As with any crime, it is very important that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that you can discuss the specific circumstances as well as any defenses that may apply to your case.

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