Helping at barn a liability?
I have had my horse at school with me since the end of last summer, but I just moved her back to my original barn for the summer. This barn is in the owner's backyard, and the owner was my first trainer. Until I moved my horse to school with me this year, I have always been with this trainer.
It is only her and her mother who run the barn which is small (7 stalls). She used to give lessons so she had a lot of kids helping out to help pay for lessons and stuff. Well she has two young boys now and she decided a little while ago to stop giving lessons and just board horses at the barn. She also told her current students they could lease her horses if they chose to.
Like I said, I am back with my horse, and I am the only boarder there. Two other girls lease one of the horses, but that's it. My trainer's (the owner) mother is getting older so it is harder for her to do all the work around the barn. She asked me to help out with the horses (four of her horses and obviously mine) when I was available and when she needed to be somewhere else, and she said she would take off from my board each month.
I just feed the horses, get food ready for the next feeding, turn the horses out or bring them in depending on weather, etc. All these horses (minus Faith who is only 1) I have been around for many years. They aren't unfamiliar to me at all; I know all their personalities. Plus, I am not a completely inexperienced horse person. I have been very active with horses for ten straight years and owned my horse for the past 2.5 years.
Well my mother was talking to her sister who is an attorney and her sister said if the horses were ever to get out while I was caring for them and hurt someone, I would be the one responsible legally. That made my mom call my trainer and tell her I couldn't help with handling the horses on my own anymore. I am going to be 21 in a couple weeks, so I could make my own decision but my mom puts a couple hundred toward my board each month, so I kinda have to listen to her if I still want that support.
I understand both my mom and aunt, no matter how silly I think they are being, are looking out for my best interest. However, I am just wondering if everything my aunt is saying is true. Even though they are my trainer's horses, if one of them got out while I was handling them and hurt someone, would I be the one held responsible legally?
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I have a lot of friends that are lawyers, and I believe there is something about "Inherent Risk" when you enter a barn. Meaning, when people step foot into a barn with animals such as horses, they enter with the understanding that an animal could pose harm.
Being that you are essentially "employed" by the barn owner, I believe that her barn, and her as the owner, would cover you. If a horse jumped a pasture fence after you put it outside, and some "unknowing observer" decided to step infront of it and became injured, they would likely sue the barn, not you as the technical "Stable Hand." Thats why barns have liability contracts that cover them and those that work for them.
But I would draw up a quick "good faith" agreement between you and the barn owner that says so. :)
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