Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the horse pass

What is the Horse Pass?
What is the Commercial Horse Pass?
What does the Horse Pass cost?
Does the Horse Pass go with the person or with the horse?
Do I need a pass to ride other animals, such as a mule or donkey?
Where can I buy a pass?
How are the fees from the Horse Pass used?


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What is the Horse Pass?

Legislation establishing a Horse Pass was authorized in 2006 and was effective starting January 1, 2007. The horse pass is similar to other DNR passes, such as the cross-country ski pass. It creates a dedicated fund source enabling users to assist directly with the operation and maintenance of the Department of Natural Resources' horse facilities.

MN Statutes 85.46 states "While riding, leading, or driving a horse on lands administered by the Commissioner of the DNR, except forest roads and forest road right-of-ways, a person 16 years of age or over shall carry in immediate possession a valid horse pass. The pass must be available for inspection by a peace officer, a conservation officer, or an employee designated under section 84.0835."

The DNR's Division of Parks and Trails administers the program for the Department of Natural Resources.

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What is the Commercial Horse Pass?

The 2009 Minnesota Legislature amended MS 85.46, adding a new commercial annual horse pass effective January 1, 2010. The commercial horse pass is only sold through the DNR central office. This pass enables commercial riding facility owners to purchase horse passes which can be issued to riders that hire or rent horses from a commercial facility.

Commercial facility owners can purchase 15 passes for $200 plus the $1 issuing fee; individual commercial passes are $20 plus the $1 issuing fee. Commercial riding facility owners will need to fill out an application and send it to the DNR central office. Contact the DNR central office License Bureau for more information.

Get a commercial Horse Pass application online. This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it.

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What does the Horse Pass cost?

The fee for an annual horse trail pass is $21, ($20 plus a $1 issuing fee) for an individual 16 years of age or over. Annual passes are valid for one year beginning January 1 and ending December 31. The fee for a daily horse trail pass is $5 ($4 plus a $1 issuing fee). The daily pass is valid only for the date shown.

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Does the Horse Pass go with the person or with the horse?

Each person needs to have their own signed pass and must carry it in their immediate possession. The pass is valid only for the individual whose name and signature are on that pass.

Examples include:

  • When two people are riding the same horse, they would both need a horse pass.
  • Only the driver of a horse and buggy would need a pass; any passengers would not be required to have a pass.
  • Should a person be riding one horse and leading another horse (without a rider), the person needs only one pass.
  • If a stable brings a horse onto a designated trail with different riders throughout the day, each rider needs their own horse pass. (See the information about the Commercial Horse Pass.)

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Do I need a pass to ride other animals, such as a mule or donkey?

Yes. A horse is defined in rules, at 6100.0500 Subp. 5h. Horse. "Horse" includes a horse, mule, donkey, llama, alpaca, or other ungulate or ruminant that is used to transport people, equipment, or materials.

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Where can I buy a pass?

Horse passes may be purchased from DNR authorized Electronic License Service (ELS) vendors, located across the state. (These are the same vendors who sell fishing and hunting licenses.) Find the agent nearest you or call toll free 1-888-MINNDNR.

You can also buy a horse pass online.

Ideally, trail users would acquire their passes prior to arriving at the horse trail. In the event that you did not purchase a pass prior to arrival, a self-registration system will be available at many locations, similar to the one used by the cross-country ski pass program.

To self-register:

  • Fill out the self-registration form
  • Select either a daily or annual horse pass option. (If you are purchasing an annual pass, it will be mailed to you.)
  • Enclose payment
  • Drop the postage paid self-registration envelope into the mail or payment box, if one is provided.
  • Keep one copy of the self-registration form as proof of your daily pass or temporary annual pass.

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How are the fees from the Horse Pass used?

The statute says "...the fees are appropriated to the commissioner of natural resources for trail acquisition, trail and facility development, and maintenance, enforcement, and rehabilitation of horse trails or trails authorized for horse use, whether for riding, leading, or driving, on lands administered by the Commission of the DNR."

Funds raised by the sale of this pass are used to benefit DNR horse facilities, seeking to provide a consistent, quality experience all across Minnesota. During the first five years of the pass, approximately $565,000 has been generated and distributed to equestrian projects. Learn about these projects.This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it. An Equestrian Advisory Group made up of horse community representatives advises the Division on project priorities.

Minnesota Horse Pass Celebrates Five Years! This link leads to an Word document. (Spring 2012)

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Last updated April 9, 2012