Residents of a northern Hawke's Bay town has been warned to slow down.

The Wairoa District Council has warned horses will be impounded should riders continue riding recklessly around the township, following complaints about young riders at full gallop in public areas.

The council issued the warning last week after being alerted to concerns by visitors and locals about riders in the main street, along the riverbank and near the town's new destination playground.

Chief operating officer Helen Montgomery said police had been in contact with the council about the issue and council enforcement officers had spoken to several horse owners, who had been compliant.


Ms Montgomery said, however, that there were many who did not listen to the warnings and continued to put others in danger by riding their horses in and around public spaces.

"Council understands that in some cases, horses are a means of transport and people enjoy riding at their own leisure, but there are dangers to having these animals around young children and families, especially if those people are not used to being around horses," she said.

"Riding a horse at full gallop in and around the new playground is simply unacceptable, as this is a zone designed for use by children.

"With the growing number of children at the new play area, the Wairoa skate bowl and people having picnics along the riverbank, riding a horse in these spaces is an accident waiting to happen."

The council's enforcement officers would be policing those areas and any owner or horse rider seen in those spaces would be spoken to, asked to dismount and lead their horse away from the area, she said.

Council bylaws stated that a person in control of an animal in any public place should make sure the animal was kept under proper control, with consideration for other people in public places.

If riders and owners continued to disregard those orders, the horse would be impounded.

A person ordered to leave a reserve was likely to be prosecuted for breaching council bylaws.

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said yesterday that he had not been alerted to the current situation, but was aware there were small numbers of people who rode their horses in town.

"It gets a little bit frustrating with horses leaving their bits behind, but I have not seen anyone galloping."

Safety issues were a concern, he said, but he acknowledged that horse riders had the same rights as motorists, as long as the laws were adhered to.

The situation attracted a lot of comment on the council's Facebook page in the past few days with one person noting they had seen a lot of people riding through town respectfully, but a few were dangerous.

"Families are down on the riverbank with little kids playing around the picnic tables and playground, then people riding horses just burst though the middle of them flat out. Someone's going to get hurt.

''There are plenty of places around here to ride. Just be respectful of your surroundings," they said.

Another person suggested there could be more riding or horse-friendly activities in the town.

"Jump on the opportunity to engage in growth and knowledge for our youth," they said.

"Start a horse care course? Basic riding course? Treks even? Come on Wairoa, if that's what the youth are into, the seed is already planted.

''Nurture the growth, don't rip it out before it's had a chance to bloom into something beautiful."