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Pony wheel ban extends to all events in Brussels region

15:42 28/09/2021

It is now illegal to use ponies, horses, donkeys – or any other animal creative business owners might designate as being able to ride – as a form of entertainment in the Brussels Capital-Region. The new regulation has been implemented to close the loopholes associated with the ban on pony rides at fun fairs.

Since the beginning of 2019 it has been illegal to operate a so-called pony wheel – where ponies plod around in a circle, carrying children on their backs – at a fun fair. The practice is considered to be detrimental to the animals’ welfare.

The law specifically banned the use of pony wheels at fun fairs, which it soon became clear did not go far enough. Following the ban, owners of the fun-fair attraction began to use donkeys instead or to lead children around on the ponies, thereby not technically breaking the law. They also continued to use the pony wheels at other events, such as flea markets.

Now the law is broad enough to prevent animals being ridden day and night at noisy, crowded events. This includes all public and private events, such as children’s parties. “We shouldn’t give our children the impression that animals are our slaves,” said Bernard Clerfayt, Brussels minister for animal welfare.

In Wallonia, pony wheels are also banned from fun fairs, but, like with Brussels’ previous regulation, this is easy to get around. Flanders hasn’t banned the practice at all, though individual municipalities have the right to ban pony rides at fairs, and many do. The region has decided to ban the use of pony wheels at fun fairs from 2023.

Photo ©Nicolas Maeterlinck/BELGA


Written by Lisa Bradshaw