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.
Jul 03, 2022 Intercollegiate

A Day in the Life with USEA Intercollegiate Member Hannah Warner

Hannah Warner wears many hats: student at the University of Kentucky, UK Eventing Team President, competitor, and head groom for Alexa Ehlers. Fitting in all of her roles and responsibilities into her day-to-day life can be a challenge, but it is a challenge that Warner finds rewarding. The college senior is working towards a business degree through UK's online business program, so Warner is able to get creative with her schedule to pursue all of her academic and eventing related goals.

Jul 02, 2022 Area Championships

Twelve Area III Champions Crowned at 2022 Area Championships

The Area III Championships kicked off the 2022 USEA Area Championship season June 24-26 at the Stable View Summer H.T. in Aiken, South Carolina. Offering 12 different championship divisions from Intermediate to Beginner Novice, the championships were highly contested as riders from all across Area III put in a gallant effort in hopes of being deemed division champion. The USEA caught up with many of the individual champions to look back on their performances in Aiken that helped them bring home the top prize.

Jul 01, 2022 Young Riders

USEA Announces Athletes for the 2022 Emerging Athlete 21 Program

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce the athletes selected for the 2022 USEA Emerging Athlete 21 (EA21) Program. USEA Young Rider program members aged 21 and under are eligible for the program, which aims to creates a pipeline for potential U.S. team riders by identifying and developing young talent, improving horsemanship and riding skills, and training and improving skills and consistency.

Jul 01, 2022 AEC

Countdown to AEC: 2 Months Away! Tentative Competition, Entertainment Schedules, & More!

The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds are just two months away. The AEC moves to the mountains this year, taking place at Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana across a long Labor Day weekend.

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 Outerwear of the USEA

Official Competition & Training Apparel of the USEA