Why Individual Horse Owners Need Liability Insurance

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As an equine attorney, I’m often asked to give presentations on equine liability. It’s a very broad topic, of course, so I try to tailor it to the audience. Many of the audience members are individual horse owners. Here are some common areas of concern about liability, and some recommendations for how to address those concerns.

What if My Horse Injures Another Person or Another Horse?

Just because a horse injures someone doesn’t automatically mean the horse owner will have liability for the injury. The horse owner must be at fault. Common scenarios in which the horse owner might be at fault:

  • The horse has a dangerous habit, such as kicking or biting. The horse owner fails to warn of the danger. The horse’s dangerous behavior then causes injury to someone unaware of the horse’s tendencies. 
  • The horse owner rides or handles the horse in a way that is negligent. As a result of the negligent riding or handling, the horse then injures someone. For example, a show rider might run over another horse and rider in a crowded warm-up arena because the show rider is on their cell phone and not looking where they are going.
  • The horse owner fails to provide adequate fencing or stall door latches, and the horse gets loose. The horse runs out onto the road in an area that is not legally designated as “open range.” A passing motorist doesn’t see the horse in time to avoid an accident, and the motorist is injured

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Written by:

Rachel Kosmal McCart is the founder and principal attorney of Equine Legal Solutions, PC (ELS), an equine law firm based near Portland, Ore. McCart is a graduate of the Duke University School of Law and licensed to practice in four states: California, New York, Oregon, and Washington. She is also admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. ELS represents clients in litigation, helps resolve equine disputes, drafts customized equine contracts, represents clients in horse industry disciplinary hearings, and incorporates equine businesses. Learn more at www.equinelegalsolutions.com.

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