Can you legally ride horses on Portland’s streets? And water them at Skidmore Fountain? Should I build a paddock in my driveway?
It’s funny you should bring this up, Carl. As it turns out, you can ride your horse on a city street all you want. Take your car for a few laps around the horse track during a race at Portland Meadows, though, and suddenly everybody acts like it’s the fucking apocalypse.
The legality-of-horse-riding issue took on added visibility Aug. 30, when a dude dressed up like a cowboy rode one horse and led two others down U.S. Route 26 west of town (Google “Doc Mishler” if you missed it).
This caravan was accompanied by a flurry of press releases and Oregon Department of Transportation emergency vehicles (just like in the Old West!) and brought new meaning to the phrase “riding into the Sunset.” (Get it? “Sunset?” Wacka-wacka!)
Given this actual news hook, I took a break from hiding under the couch trying to figure out how to get out of jury duty and called both ODOT and the Portland Bureau of Transportation.
You and your horse can rest easy: As far as the state is concerned, it doesn’t matter if it’s a bike, horse, tauntaun, or one of those stuffed costumes from The Benny Hill Show where it looks like an old woman is carrying you on her back. If it’s a non-motorized vehicle, it’s permitted on the shoulder of any roadway where non-motorized vehicles aren’t prohibited (as they are on the Banfield Expressway, say).
PBOT says “as far as [they] know,” it’s legal to ride your horse on a city street. However, they don’t encourage it, because the sort of person who’d try is probably too dumb to keep their horse under control (I’m paraphrasing slightly, but you get the idea).
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