Jan 06, 2022

Five Things You Need to Know About Equine Liability Law

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
Yvonne Ocrant speaking at the 2021 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention. USEA/ Leslie Mintz photo.

Attendees of the 2021 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention had the opportunity to sit in on two sessions regarding common equine law practices with attorney Yvonne Ocrant, USEA Board of Governors member and partner and equine law activity specialist at Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP. Ocrant’s final session of the weekend “Understanding Equine Liability and Minimizing Risk of Exposure,” educated USEA members on common equine liability risks and protocols that can be implemented to reduce risk. Here are top-five takeaways from the session for horse lovers of every nature:

5) There are 48 states which offer equine liability protection.

Not included are California and Maryland. Under this standard equine liability protection, most states have adopted the mentality that equine activities are inherently dangerous and shifts responsibility to participants in equine activities. Verbiage and regulations vary by state but, there are exceptions!

4) How to classify an individual as a participant?

As outlined above, most states' legislation shifts the responsibility of the inherent risk associated with equine activities on ‘the participant.’ But who is considered the participant in each case?

In most states, those defined as a spectator or passerby are not always covered by the state-offered equine liability protection. A good example would be a mom walking into a crowded warmup arena to reset a warmup fence who is hurt by an oncoming horse.

How can we mitigate this risk? Everyone who enters the property signs a waiver specifically created for your farm and/or show. Also, place your state’s equine liability sign at the front of your driveway, so everyone who enters the property sees it as they enter the facility.

3) What is defined as an equine activity?

Certain states might see things such as leading a horse into a trailer as a “horse trailering activity” rather than an “equine activity.” Know the laws for your state and have your liability waiver customized to fit your barn’s needs. Will riders be bringing horses up from the pasture? Judges may not see that as an “equine activity” as defined by law.

2) There are exceptions to liability!

Faulty tack or equipment can place you in the hot seat. Be sure if you are providing tack or equipment to students that it is being properly evaluated and cared for frequently.

1) Know the four reasons why your liability protection may not actually protect you:

  • Mismatch: While this might mostly apply to lesson programs, it can also apply to sale barns allowing a rider to try a horse they may be poorly suited for. This is seen as the failure to assess skills and abilities of a horse and rider to ensure a proper match. You wouldn’t want to put your cross-rails rider on a hot, Intermediate level horse for a cross-country schooling opportunity.
  • Dangerous Latent Conditions: You know that fence you have been meaning to mend or that hole in the ground on the hacking trail? Those things can get you in some serious trouble in regards to your liability coverage. Know what is going on around your property and quickly care for conditions that could be dangerous and result in an injury on property.
  • Willful or Wanton Disregard: We don’t often think twice about answering our phone or turning our back to greet someone at the barn while giving a lesson. But what if your student fell off right at the moment you turned your back, resulting in an injury? A Judge might determine your quick phone call or cheerful greeting as willful or wanton disregard. The best way to avoid this is to not spread yourself too thin and to focus on the task at hand.
  • Intentional Act: This would be seen as the intentional placing of a student in harm’s way.
Dec 05, 2023 Education

Digital Resources to Maximize Education & Access for the Eventing Community

To accompany the 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention, USEA Educational Partner STRIDER has prepared Digital Resources to Maximize Education & Access for the Eventing Community. In keeping with the USEA’s mission to expand the sport of eventing, this webinar outlines ways in which digital tools can be leveraged to increase access and education across equestrian opportunities. As part of STRIDER’s popular Professional Development Webinar Series, this presentation aims to provide a quick overview of best practices and digital tools used across the equestrian industry to boost growth.

Dec 05, 2023 Young Event Horse

Young Event Horse Arden Augustus Exceeds All Expectations for Antenucci and White

Every horse who participated this year in the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) program has a story—a background that involves a breeder who labored over bloodlines, veterinary care, initial training, and so much more. This year’s highest-placing U.S.-bred horse in the 5-year-old division at the Dutta Corp./USEA Young Event Horse Championships, Arden Augustus, is no exception. His breeder and owner, Anita Antenucci of Arden Farms in Upperville, Virginia, started her program nine years ago and said that the Warmblood gelding was a more emotionally driven breeding for her than others due to his connections with Antenucci’s long-time friend Sharon White.

Dec 04, 2023 Young Event Horse

USEA Podcast #349: All About the USEA Young Event Horse Program

Have you ever wondered why professional riders love bringing their horses through the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) program? USEA Podcast host Nicole Brown chats with two of this year's YEH Champions, Caroline Pamukcu who won the USEA YEH 4-year-old East Coast Championship aboard HSH Afterglow, and Andrea Baxter who won the USEA YEH 5-year-old Championship with Camelot PJ, to discuss this year's Championships and all of the great things that the program has to offer.

Dec 04, 2023 Sponsor

Gold Sponsor, Rebecca Farm, Returns to Support 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention

The United States Eventing Association, Inc. (USEA) is delighted to announce its renewed partnership with Rebecca Farm for the 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention. Rebecca Farm, which is owned and operated by the Broussard family, will return as a Gold Sponsor of the event and act as the Official Sponsor of the Annual Meeting continental breakfast. The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention will take place this week on Dec. 7-10 at the Marriott St. Louis Grand Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri.

Official Corporate Sponsors of the USEA

Official Joint Therapy Treatment of the USEA

Official Feed of the USEA

Official Saddle of the USEA

Official Real Estate Partner of the USEA

Official Equine Insurance of the USEA

Official Forage of the USEA

Official Supplement Feeding System of the USEA

Official Competition & Training Apparel of the USEA