The aim in this article is to highlight the clash between an old regulatory framework; the one associated with the peasant state in Finland and a new rural activity sector, horseback riding, by predominately middle-class women. The method used in the study was case studies with a mix of interviews, documentary analysis and, to some extent, participatory observation. It was found that the peasant state regulatory framework has been superseded by two competing frameworks: a neoliberal one and a ‘neo top-down’ one strongly associated with the environmental authorities. However, none of these models can satisfactorily deal with the complex challenges posed by the emerging new equine industry. What is needed is a new kind of participatory governance – co-management – that especially takes into account gender inequalities and strives towards the empowerment of disadvantaged groups.