Horses have an almost magical effect on a lot of people, and equine-related activities are an important part of recreation for many. But what happens if your horse injures someone? Are you automatically liable?
The answer likely depends on the circumstances surrounding the accident. To some extent, any activity involving a horse has an element of danger. This can allow you to assert the defense that the injury victim willingly assumed a certain amount of risk when they decided to participate in that activity.
For example, someone who takes lessons from you as a student rider or someone who borrows your horse for the occasional ride may face some of the following inherent risks:
- Falling and injuring themselves while trying to mount the horse
- Getting injured when they’re thrown by a horse that’s spooked
- Experiencing a crushing injury if the horse slips and falls on a trail
- Getting kicked, bitten or stepped on by an unhappy or moody horse
Falls are very common in horseback riding — and every rider is likely to experience one at some point. An injured rider may allege, however, that you didn’t give them any kind of warning that a horse was difficult to ride or had injured other riders in the past. That makes it particularly important to both try to match your horses and riders carefully and obtain waiver forms that can relieve you from unreasonable liability.
Don’t take chances with your future or your financial security. Talk to an experienced equine law attorney about the measures you can take to protect yourself if someone has an accident while riding one of your horses.