Is there any way to really protect yourself if you allow someone to ride your horse? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 21 Old 11-19-2012, 08:03 PM
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As others have said, you can't fully protect yourself. However, given that most states have equine activity liability laws, your focus is to protect yourself from being accused of negligence, not the inherent risks of riding.
- You have a responsibility to understand the skill and experience of the rider and insure that the horse is a match. This is your decision to make, not the rider's.
- Do not say that your horse would never kick, bite, buck, etc. i.e. never imply future behavior even if your horse has never behaved that way in the past.
- If you are providing the tack, insure that the rider inspects the condition of the tack. If there is anything wrong with the tack, do not let the rider use it.
- Have the rider tack the horse, removing yourself from potential negligence (e.g. loose cinch, etc).
- Give a hardcopy of your state's equine activity liability law to the rider.

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post #12 of 21 Old 11-19-2012, 09:35 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for all the responses. They have been very useful (well, other than Joe who I hope wasn't serious about either wanting to know what my assets are or the suggestion to just not have any).

I have looked up the liability laws where I am (NJ) and they look reasonable. There are signs referring to the risks posted in numerous places where I board and the owner of the stable has a good umbrella policy which covers them since they do pony parties, lessons and boarding. It also as I mentioned in my first post covers my horses as far as their residence there as boarded horses is concerned. I just haven't been able to find a policy that is specific to allowing someone to ride my horses and it seems that possibly such a thing just doesn't exist for a simple horse owner who is not in the equine business.

A fellow boarder I was talking to tonight said she uses a waiver and prints out NJ ST 5:15-1 - 12 and gives it to anyone who rides her horses and makes them read it and sign it to acknowledge that they realize that they are owning the associated risk and will not sue her if they are injured.

One of the trainers at the barn had expressed an interest in riding my big horse and I think they would work well together, but it sounds like the risks outweigh the benefits. He is huge and powerful and young and I just can't control the situation enough to be comfortable so we will live with the 3-4 rides per week that I can manage myself.

I am actually less concerned with the pony, especially if I am holding the lead rope since she is a real quiet "been there done that" kind of girl who was dumped at the end of the season after working in a camp all summer. Of course anything could happen at any time, but I feel like that is a situation I could control pretty well. It wouldn't be for parties or for profit, just friends of the kids who can't believe that they actually have a pony and would love to come out to the barn to brush her and pat her and take a lap or two around the round pen. I will probably go ahead with that with a waiver and statute signed and acknowledged by the parents (who will probably think I'm crazy for asking).
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post #13 of 21 Old 12-02-2012, 06:03 AM
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Location: England
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If you are going to let other people ride your horse, then you need to look into insurance which covers 'Riding Schools'. Be warned, public liability insurance under these circumstances is very expensive. In England the law is slightly different and we can get people to sign a contract which states that: they are riding XXXX horse at their own risk and on the understanding that a horse is an unpredictable animal. Therefore XXXXX cannot be held responsible for injury etc. Now to totally contradict the contract - in English Law, it is not really worth the paper its written on and if someone is seriously injured say on one of my horses, I would be required to pay compensation which could run into thousands and thousands of pounds. Therefore I would need Public Liability and Injury Insurance of up to 3 million pounds. Alternatively, you could ask riders to insure themselves! All I would say is tread very carefully on this one and I would advise against letting totaly stangers ride your animals - there has been a couple of cases in the UK of some people turning up at Riding Schools and 'Injuring' themselves by 'falling' from a horse....then suing. It is similar to cars in front of you stopping suddenly, causing you to bump them and then they claim damages and whiplash injuries. The driver has done this on purpose. Had this happen to me a couple of times and even though the police knew what the person had done, it couldn't be proven. Good l uck.
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post #14 of 21 Old 12-02-2012, 07:12 AM
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Also remember, that a waiver is not worth much if something really happens and they get a shark of a lawyer. Also, if someone is hurt badly, they may not be the ones suing you. Their INSURANCE company may sue for medical, etc, and they have no control over that.

My question would be-and I have never really asked it of a legal person-what if you have an LLC that actually owns the horse? Doesn't an LLC protect your personal assets? Then it would seem what they could get would be minimal?

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post #15 of 21 Old 12-02-2012, 07:51 AM
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FWIW: At least in Arizona, the bar association has a referral service. You call them up, pay $35 in advance, tell them your problem, and the $35 covers a 30 minute consult with a lawyer who specializes in that area of law. If you ever have a question that is worth $35, it is a very good idea to get legal advice from someone who A) specializes in that area, and B) is licensed to practice law in your state. Lots of laws and case law varies from one state to the next, particularly if the law says "reasonable". Internet legal advice is well-meaning, and meaningless.

In Pima County (google your county and "bar association legal referral service"), the program is here:

Lawyer Referral Service (LRS)

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post #16 of 21 Old 12-02-2012, 08:45 AM
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Isn't this a sad situation? We live in a world where so often good people are punished for trying to be nice. It would be so nice if we could share our horses with others without fear of losing everything if an accident happens. Friends, family fall into the same category as a stranger in that they still might sue. One never knows, this is the world were are in now.

When I was in a car accident with a friend of mine where he (my friend) rear ended someone while I was in the passengers seat, I had 3 different lawyers call me and try to talk me into suing my friend. I kept saying "he is my friend, I won't sue him." They would say "don't think of it as suing him, you are suing his insurance." I wasn't even really hurt. A bit of a stiff back and leg but nothing major. They all insisted I could get thousands of dollars. Sick and wrong that people feel they somehow have the right to benefit from others hardships. Especially when there was no ill intent.

Would have been different if he was driving like a loon but he was only going 15 miles and hour and were were on ice it just didn't stop quite soon enough. The other car didn't even have hardly any damage at all, but I was supposed to sue? Sheesh.
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post #17 of 21 Old 12-02-2012, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by franknbeans View Post
My question would be-and I have never really asked it of a legal person-what if you have an LLC that actually owns the horse? Doesn't an LLC protect your personal assets? Then it would seem what they could get would be minimal?
If the animal is owned by an LLC, you have to represent yourself as part of the LLC when you allow someone else to ride the animal. If you represent yourself as just an individual, then both the LLC and individual can be sued.

LLCs are used a lot by people who have many assets, and would prefer not to lose them all in a lawsuit. For example, say a fast food restaurant is owned by Foods R Us LLC, but another restaurant with the same owners is registered under We Feed You LLC. If someone gets hurt at the first restaurant, they can only sue for the assets of the LLC under which that restaurant is established. However, should an owner of the first restaurant be involved in any way with the accident, the injured party can also sue them as an individual.

Now, as to whether they'll actually win the lawsuit against the individual, that relies on many different factors.
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post #18 of 21 Old 12-02-2012, 09:41 AM
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Too true Inga. When I was a kid, people were more than happy to hoist me up on their horse for a bit. I myself would never even consider suing someone unless there was an incident that was their fault and caused serious damage to myself or my possessions (animals included). Heck, I probably couldn't even afford to sue someone even then.

It's sad that even though I would love to give kids a ride on a nice trustworthy horse if/when I find one, I wouldn't be able to do it for fear of the repercussions unless I knew I could trust the family.
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post #19 of 21 Old 12-02-2012, 10:59 AM
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It really is so sad these days that almost every action has a cost. Up until about 10 years ago in the UK, lawyers couldn't advertise themselves or try and force their business onto anyone. This has now changed and we have TV adverts and unsolicted telephone calls trying to pursuade anyone who has even had the slightest bump, to sue for injury. I had a guy reverese his car over the rear bumper of my big Jaguar in a car park. He didn't take into consideration the length of my car when he tried to get out of the parking space. I wasn't in the car at the time, there was no speed involved and no-one got hurt. He did damage the car so I claimed from his insurance company for the cost of repairs. Within hours of putting in the claim, I had 5 telephone calls from law firms trying to put words into my mouth about 'mental distress' due to the damage to the car. I play fair and told them where to go but now I think if I did that to someone elses car, they could sue me not only for damage of their car, but also mental anguish! Mad, mad, mad, world!
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post #20 of 21 Old 12-02-2012, 11:42 AM
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It is a sad situation, Inga. We live in a world where nobody has any responsibility for anything they do...any decision they make. We won't even let the granddaughters on a horse here without someone on the end of a lead (which is no fun for them so they don't show up...problem solved). In the past it has been enjoyable to have a friend come ride with me but it was always on a stable, dependable mount. even then there are no guarantees. But I probably won't do even that anymore. Sad...because it's fun going down a trail on a good horse sharing the experience with a good friend.

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