You can lead a horse to water - but not around Whanganui.

People who own horses in the Whanganui urban area will soon need a permit.

A new council bylaw which took effect in February states no person will be able to graze a horse in an urban area without a permit.

Owners must have their horses adequately fenced so as to prevent them from escaping into neighbouring property and public places. It also states owners can not ride their horses near city roads or graze their horses on any public grass.


Whanganui horse owners met on Tuesday at Gonville Library to discuss how the bylaw affected them.

The council's animal management team leader Jo Meiklejohn said the purpose of the meeting was to get the information out that urban horse owners must be issued a permit for their horses.

"At this stage we want to set-up a database to know where urban horses are being grazed, what they look like and who owns them."

Mrs Meiklejohn said there would be no charge for owners to permit their horses, but rather the safety of knowing the council could return them if they roam.

"When most horses get out and go wandering it's not the fault of the owner.

"Often we get a lot of drunk people who open gates and the horses escape," she said.

"Sometimes it's hard to know where they've come from and they'll get put back in any paddock."

Mrs Meiklejohn said there had been resistance from owners to permit their horses. Some owners believed as soon as the horses were in the database the council would start to impose charges for future permits.

However, she insisted this was not a revenue gathering process.

"I can not promise that five or 10 years down the track that there will be no cost, but this isn't like dog registrations or anything like that. We just want to create a database so we know where urban horses are and who owns them."

While the bylaw came into effect in February, Mrs Meiklejohn said the council had yet to come up with a due date for the permitting of horses. "Right now there is no cut-off date. We want to encourage people to do this. But, at the same time urban horses must be permitted."

The animal management team urge all horse owners to fill out a horse permit and attach a picture of their horse as soon as possible. If an urban horse is found wandering and it has not been permitted then the owner is liable to be fined up to $20,000.