Recreational Use Statutes
All states have recreational use statutes.
They were enacted to encourage land owners to make their properties available free of charge (or for only a nominal fee) to the public for recreational uses.
The encouragement takes the form of protecting the land owner from legal liability for any accidents that may happen when the user is on the property for recreational purposes. The only exceptions are for intentional harms and for gross negligence.
Recreational uses include a wide variety of activities. Whether specifically mentioned in the statute or not, horseback riding is a recreational use.
Of course, the land owner retains the right to deny access to the public and the right to eject any member of the public who misbehaves while on the property.
If you have neighboring land on
which you would like permission to ride, tell the owner
about your state's recreational use statute. Or, better yet, print it
out and give it to
him. Relieving his fear of legal liability may tip the scales in favor
of his giving you
permission to ride.
(Scroll down to view state statutes.)
Some states interpret their recreational use statutes
to apply only to landowners who open their land to all members of the
public and who do
not pick and choose who may use their land. This is a significant
limitation on the
usefulness of these statutes for trail riding. Some of these
can be found on this web site in the Landowner's
Liabilities segment of Law Cases for Horsemen.