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Laws on Dead Horse Burial

| Updated September 26, 2017

When horses ultimately come to the end of their road, horse owners are faced with making tricky decisions about how to bury the remains of their enormous pets. Placing your horse's final resting place on your own property may often seem like a more personal, sentimental and desirable option. However, there are often many legal restrictions on where you can bury such a large animal as a horse.

State Laws

Some states outright ban horses from being buried on your property. Others may have stringent restrictions on how your horse is buried. For example, a state may require that the horse be buried on your property within 24 hours of death or that an incision be made in the abdominal area before burial. You cannot simply assume that there are no restrictions simply because you live in an agricultural area or a rural state.

Local Laws

Local laws add another layer of complexity. Some counties may not allow burial of any type, require a certain distance between the burial spot and adjacent property, require that the burial site is a certain distance (generally 100 feet) away from any wells or water sources, require that the hole be dug to certain dimensions or even require a permit and a test done on your property to determine where your water tables are. Again, even if you are in an agricultural or rural area, you cannot merely assume that burying on your property is legally allowed.

Good Reasons for Restrictions

All this red tape usually has good reason behind it. Improper burial sites can attract vermin, create unpleasant smells, or even contaminate water supplies. Burying your horse may create a nuisance or even a public health issue, and neither of these things is what most people would want for a last memory of their deceased horse.


You might hear of people who get away with bypassing any restrictive laws and burying on their own property as they please anyway. However, if they are reported, the penalties can be fairly drastic. They may be fined or worse. One area, for example, requires that the dead horse be dug up and also levied a $5,000 fine. A pet cemetery might be a more feasible option in such a situation.