[question]I serve on the board of my local saddle club, which owns a property used for horse shows, clinics, and general riding. Some events are managed by our club, but in some cases we lease the facilities out to 4-H groups and other equestrian clubs. As board members, are we liable in the event someone is injured on the club’s property or at club events?
Are Horse Club Boards Liable for Club-Related Injuries?
Before serving on an equestrian organization’s board of directors, check to make sure the club’s paperwork is in place.
AThe simple answer to this question depends on whether your saddle club is properly incorporated as a corporation, a limited liability company (LLC), or partnership. (For more information about legal business entities, see the U.S. Small Business Administration website.
If your saddle club’s leadership has properly formed it as a business entity, such as a corporation or LLC, you as a board member are generally protected from personal liability. If your saddle club hasn’t been properly formed as a separate business entity, you remain at risk of personal liability. You only have personal liability protection if someone has taken the necessary steps to incorporate the club (i.e., articles of incorporation, business filings with the state, etc.). I make this distinction because, if your club operates like a separate business entity but is actually an informal and unincorporated club, you could be personally liable. This is especially important to note because informal organizations structured like corporations but not officially incorporated are common in the horse industry; these clubs don’t offer their board members or membership protection from personal liability.