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RoyalsRebel 04-21-2010 02:06 PM

Liability when riding someone else's horse...
Hi there,

Just wondering if anyone has any suggestions, ideas, or past experience with riding other people's horses?

I've been offered to ride friends and acquaintances horses this summer (exercising some and schooling a couple of greenies - probably for compensation) but I'm concerned about protecting myself legally. I've done some research and know I should put together a liability waiver, but does anyone have any suggestions or past experiences with this?

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!!

White Foot 04-21-2010 03:11 PM

Make a contract, what sort of things are you looking for?

I ride for people at my barn. I will tell them no if the horse is too crazy, but if it's a horse I know I can handle then I will ride. The contract I make basically says that I'm not at fault if the horse gets injured, and I understand the risks of riding..

jamesqf 04-21-2010 03:18 PM

I would also think about liability going in the other direction: the owners might be afraid that if you ride their horse and get hurt, you'd sue them. So some sort of waiver that covers both sides, akin to what riding stables use?

RoyalsRebel 04-21-2010 03:22 PM

I was going to draft liability waivers in both directions, jamesqf. It's moreover the one pertaining to my liability though that has me more concerned - I'm a good, level-headed and mature rider. I'm not going to get on anything I think is not ready to be ridden or ride under conditions where I can see any potential issue coming up (a horse that is nervous or under stress of any kind).... it's the greenies that have me the most concerned as we all know they're unpredictable, and should anything ever happen with them or any other horse - an injury, a broken saddle, who knows! - I don't want to be held liable...

Any thoughts on what I need to add to the waiver for my side?

xxBarry Godden 04-21-2010 03:55 PM

Rebel, I don't know where you live. I live in the UK a fairly civilised place but one where the rule of law and responsibility applies.

I would never ride someone else's horse without insurance cover. The risks of hefty bills and compensation are just too high.

You presumably would never drive someone's car without insurance - and a car has brakes and a steering wheel. Why ride a horse?

In the UK I can get rider only insurance and if I know I am likely to be riding someone else's horse - I always take out cover.

RoyalsRebel 04-21-2010 04:36 PM

Hi Barry, thanks for your reply! :) I live in Canada, so we're pretty much the same here! In Ontario we have an organization called the OEF OEF - Ontario Equestrian Federation, Richmond Hill, Ontario that covers basically:

$5,000,000 Personal Liability Insurance
$30,000 ADD Insurance

Specifically for Equine Activities.

So, like you, I would never ride someone's horse without insurance...but moreover, I do not ride period without insurance. :)

I suppose what I need help with is drafting clauses against liability for the person's horse....

I mean, hypothetically, what if the horse at some point goes lame? Becomes injured? Whether as a direct or indirect result of my riding it?

There are liability waivers for coaches, stable owners, trainers... just wondering if anyone has seen or has ideas for me to draft a liability waiver as a rider. Unlike the US who has an Equine Act, we here in Canada do not, but liability waivers, as long as they are not trying to waive negligent or illegal behaviour are enforceable.

I just don't want to end up in a situation say where I'm riding or working with a horse i.e. a green horse, who turns up lame and is unrideable due to soundness issues and then have the owner say I made their horse lame or unrideable. With the people wanting me to ride their green horses I've already had the conversation with them that a green horse is basically an untested horse, and lameness during training is not uncommon as a horse learns to bear a rider; moreover that it's their responsibility to ensure the horse is fit for bearing a rider or to be working and that any unsoundness that comes out of conformational issues or from the stress of working for the first time will not be my liability....

Does that make sense??

xxBarry Godden 04-22-2010 03:32 AM

Rebel. I see your point and I appreciate what you are getting at but I can't see how you, presumably not trained in law, can arrive at a piece of paper which will cover you if an owner decides to try to make a claim from you. If you feel this strongly about the issue the only way is to speak with a lawyer.

In the UK we have the British Horse Society and they have a web site. It might be an idea for you to re word your problem and ask them if they have any ideas on the subject.

No trainer of horse or rider should work without an agreement with the owner. Waivers, as I understand them to work in the US, are not generally seen here in the UK - yet, largely I suspect because an aggressive solicitor would take them apart. Having said that, it is usually a condition of operating a riding centre that there is some form of operator's insurance.

However on our yard we have several private instructors who turn up at our yard and give informally lessons usually in return for cash in hand.

Personally I am nervous to even say too much when I watch an inexperienced parent working with their child and its horse. Many horses are obviously unfit for the purpose.

There are a lot of issues of this nature which I suspect will arise in the future. The usual outcome is that solicitors make a fortune and restrictions are then applied by the Health & Safety snoopers.

On one hand I would like to see more understanding of this risk issue on the other I don't want to see the risk assessors having a field day in the world of horse riding. They will ban the sport as being too dangerous. If you get on a horse's back you risk an injury - full stop. At what stage do you take responsibility for your own decision to ride?

You raise a serious issue.

kmacdougall 04-22-2010 05:47 AM

Barry is right - you could draw up all the waivers you want. I assume you're working with honest to goodness people who probably won't pick you apart but hey - you should be prepared for anything.
Rebel, I am one province over for you (Quebec) and taking university law courses. If you are serious about protecting yourself, which I commend you for being, the only way to really do it is to speak with a lawyer. Yes, it will cost you a bit (you could probably get a clerk to do it [a lawyer who has not yet passed the bar] for a lot cheaper) and it should take less than an hour to draw up. The problem with doing it yourself is that I or any of the others in my law class could rip it apart in minutes.. an actual lawyer could probably do it in seconds.
Better safe then sorry! And doing it without a lawyer and getting hurt would be a hard lesson to learn!

RoyalsRebel 04-22-2010 09:34 AM

Thanks all!

Barry - I really appreciate your candor. Yours was the type of thoughtful response I was really hoping to get. You basically voiced what my gut was telling me.

The idea of riding others' horses is obviously so tempting but then when I sat back and went through the what-if's I just couldn't come to terms with the consequences - especially of helping with the green-broke horses.

kmacdougall - also really appreciate your input, especially from a fellow Canadian :) You're definitely right, and I guess I did know that any competent lawyer could rip apart even the most well-written waiver, I just was clinging to a hope that there was something I could do.

Best to keep my 'nose' in my own business I suppose. :)

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