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Equine Activity Liability Act

Horse councils around the country are constantly working to protect horse owners—professionals and amateurs alike.

A quick search on the internet for “equine liability” brings up a multitude of websites and articles on related subjects: equine law, equine warning laws, equine liability law and more. As a horse owner, it is important to understand the local statutes and your rights under the law.

Equine statutes vary by state, 48 states have passed some form of Equine Activity Liability Act (EALA). Each state’s statutes have similar characteristics, but there are slight differences based on local laws and requirements. Refer to your state government’s website for detailed information pertaining to your state.

Generally speaking, Equine Activity Liability Act laws were created to limit the liability for equine professionals and activity sponsors from participant injuries resulting from “inherent risk” of equine activities. More simply stated, “participants ride at their own risk.” While that seems obvious enough, it isn’t always the case when an injury occurs and lawsuits are looming.

Although equine statutes were developed with professionals and activity sponsors in mind, the equine laws may assist in protecting private owners as well. Consider these common examples of the liability risk your horse(s) present: an owner allows friends or family members to ride his horses; or a beautiful horse attracts uninvited passers-by while roaming a fenced-in property. A simple attempt to pet or ride a horse could result in an unwanted bite, an accidental kick or a fall that causes a major injury. Accidents happen, and knowing your state law may make a difference in defending a suit.

Most states require horse and property owners to post some form of warning signs or equine liability signs in an easily seen area outside barns, along fence lines or at property entrances. In addition, some states require horse or farm owners to have an equine liability waiver or equine liability release signed by any riders or participants engaging in equine activities on their property.

Beyond understanding your local statutes, you should discuss your equine activities with an experienced insurance advisor. He or she can connect you to coverage solutions to sufficiently protect you and your family.

Last updated: Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

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