Since 2008 Switzerland has initiated some of the toughest animal rights laws in the world. The government has invoked specific regulations on the equestrian community with regard to horse care and management. The guidelines are specific, perhaps even challenging, but the vast majority of folks in the horse community are in compliance. Following is an overview of a few legislative points.

All horses, ponies, donkeys and mules must be able to see, smell and hear other equids which may include cows and goats. A horse is not allowed to live alone. Young horses under 2 ½ years old must be kept in groups.

WARHorses_Swiss Rules Horse Management

Working horses must be allowed free time in a pasture at least 2 days a week for a minimum of 2 hours. Non working horses (retired or broodmares) must have a minimum of 2 hours a day outside in a pasture. Stable managers must maintain a log to document turnout times

There are strict rules about indoor shelters for horses. A formula was created that considers the size of the horse then calculates the minimum surface area required for that horse to be properly stalled. A formula also calculates the appropriate size for turnout pastures, again size determined by the individual horse’s size.

Farriers and barefoot trimmers receive formal training and must be certified by the Swiss government to do business.

Swiss law allows someone to own up to five horses. If you want a sixth, you must attend a welfare class (paid from your own pocket) to obtain a certificate that permits additional ownership.


  • Shortening the base of the tail
  • Shaving off tactile hair (ears and muzzle)
  • Non-natural shaping of hooves and adding weights or harmful shoes to hooves
  • Training with electric shocks
  • Competing with horses whose nerves have been cut, whose skin has been made hypersensitive or who have been treated with pain-inducing substances
  • Tongue-tying
  • Polling (raising a jump pole just as the horse is going over the jump so the next time around he will jump higher to clear the fence)
  • Maintaining a hyper flexed head or neck position

WARHorses_Swiss Rules Horse Management

This Spring the Swizz and German Quarter Horse Associations imposed new rules regarding competitions. A horse must be 4 years old before they may compete in competitions under saddle and all 4 year olds must be ridden 2 handed in a snaffle or hackamore. The Association adopted these new guidelines “following on a global trend and questions raised about horse welfare”.

Edited from the Following Resources: pferde revue (Horses Revue a Swiss publication),,