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View Full Version : When someone comes to try your horse how do you protect yorself legally?



TrotTrotPumpkn
Feb. 22, 2010, 01:17 PM
I don't own the barn, and I'm not a trainer but have a horse for sale and am worried about my liability. Mainly because he is marketed as a low level hunter (and former eventer) and I'm sure people will want to try him over fences. Well I have no idea if they have any business jumping or not!

BO has the standard state liability statute sign clearly posted and will require helmets, but should I be worried about me? I can't imagine the horse doing anything, but what if the rider just falls off? I know when people sue they sue EVERYONE.

Do you guys worry about this when you sell? Do you do anything extra to protect yourself? What if it is a kid (but one parent is there).

I guess I sold my horses previously through my trainer or an agent and am just worrying about stuff, but if anyone would be willing to send me a waiver as a starting point for drafting my own (I know they are state specific) I'd be super grateful. Or if you have any other advice...

Man I HATE selling horses!!!

TIA

brightskyfarm
Feb. 22, 2010, 01:37 PM
I sell many ....... and use waivers
luckily I have some schoolmasters, beginner lesson horses and dead quiet trail horses that double as low level eventers for a buyers appt.
I always have a buyer ride them first.........

Perhaps, you might have access to one too? It wont take you but a minute to assess whether their riding skill level is appropriate for your horse or not.

If you dont have a lesson horse on hand, you could ask them to send you a quick video, a 30-second cell video will do --- of the buyer riding. I've done this-- especially when a buyer is coming a distance. Everyone Loves to show off their horses, whether good or bad.... :)

I have found people tend to overestimate their skill levels, and few have the ability to ride a strange horse well.

There are many waivers you can use,..
heres one you could adapt to your farm name and specific for buyers .....
http://www.wolcottfarms.com/waiver.pdf

and heres one a bit more detailed
http://goldensbridgehounds.org/images/RELEASE_AND_WAIVER_OF_LIABILITY__no_minor_.pdf
do a search: waiver of liability for horseback riding and you 'll have plenty more to choose from.

TrotTrotPumpkn
Feb. 22, 2010, 02:13 PM
Yah, I just have a pretty good feeling that there may be some puffing of the skill set and he is broke-to-death so to speak, but still a thoroughbred...snow could come off the roof or whatever and he might give a little spook. Or maybe she jumps way ahead and he stops--I don't know, the list of things that could go wrong are endless. And she will probably be nervous.

I will look those waivers over. I really appreciate your post!!

I may contact the trainer directly too...I don't know.

Beam Me Up
Feb. 22, 2010, 02:14 PM
If you board, your BO may want you to have the buyers sign the same liability waiver you did for that barn? (Mine always did)

Other than that, ask questions beforehand, and don't be afraid to stop the trial if it looks scary (easier said than done of course).

Also, if your horse has any, err, tendencies (to spook, buck, whatever) make sure to cover those well on the phone before people come try them. You hate to run people off, but if the horse is not an easy one you would want to make that clear.

Highflyer
Feb. 22, 2010, 02:17 PM
You will probably be able to tell just watching them on the flat. Don't be afraid to say Enough.

Years ago we had someone get on one side of the horse and fall off the other. She broke her arm and sued. Lost, but it was expensive.

TrotTrotPumpkn
Feb. 22, 2010, 04:17 PM
He doesn't have any tendencies under saddle, but he is a living breathing thing. *sigh*

I will say if you ROYALLY jump ahead and it is a bigger/scary jump he will stop. But not at the 18inch stuff she will be doing...

Highflyer, I can't believe you got sued for that (well I can believe it, but it is pathetic).

Inese
Feb. 22, 2010, 08:16 PM
I've sold only a few horses, but have interviewed a number of potential shareboarders. I always explain that I will have them sign the barn's liability release first, they MUST wear a helmet and appropriate foot gear, and I always lunge them on my horse first. I cover these details during a telephone call before they ever arrive at the barn - no one ever objected to the terms laid out ahead of time. This lets me keep control of the TB while the rider gets comfortable with the saddle, horse, etc.

I have experienced both extremes... told the rider that the horse is not right for them after half a circle on the lunge line at a walk and slow trot, also removed the lunge line after one circle and told the rider they are very competant and to go ride outside in alone in the field and enjoy themselves while they try out the horse....

Bogie
Feb. 22, 2010, 08:22 PM
I always have people sign a hold harmless release and insist on helmets and proper footware.

That said, last time I sold a horse one of the people who came to look at the mare was an attorney. She told me the releases were basically useless.

I do know someone (also an attorney) that got hurt while trying a sales horse, sued the seller, and won.

I guess the bottom line is that if you aren't comfortable with someone riding your horse after you've seen them on for a few minutes, it's your responsibility to end the ride. I also represent any horse fairly and am honest about any quirks they might have.

drawstraws
Feb. 23, 2010, 12:16 PM
You could take out an equine personal liability policy - it would give you protection if someone were to sue. Even if you aren't found negligent it would at least provide you representation so you wouldn't have to pay attorney's fees. Premiums generally range from $150-$250 for the year, although there is a policy that comes with a USEF membership (I think $60?) that you may want to look into.

bornfreenowexpensive
Feb. 23, 2010, 01:02 PM
I always have people sign a hold harmless release and insist on helmets and proper footware.

That said, last time I sold a horse one of the people who came to look at the mare was an attorney. She told me the releases were basically useless.

I do know someone (also an attorney) that got hurt while trying a sales horse, sued the seller, and won.

I guess the bottom line is that if you aren't comfortable with someone riding your horse after you've seen them on for a few minutes, it's your responsibility to end the ride. I also represent any horse fairly and am honest about any quirks they might have.

I am an attorney....releases are NOT usless but they are not bullet proof either. The laws of every state are different...but it is a helpful fact to have people put on notice in writing what they are doing has risk. I'd also want in writing (or email) a description by the potential buyer of their experience level. I'd want a description in writing by me to them describing the the horse.

What you want is a clear understanding about the horse...and safe place to show the horse (no hidden dangers).

I may be an attorney...but you would be hard pressed to get me to sue anyone over a horse accident regardless of the facts. (there are facts that people often leave out...such as seller mislead potential buyer and neglected to tell them that horse has a significant history of rearing--like everytime some one gets on them--and then make it sound bad when a hurt potential buyer is not surprising upset). All that said, I know what risks are invovled with horses and I'm assuming those risks. However, my insurance company may think otherwise and even if I don't want them to sue...they may still. I'm always more concerned about what the insurance company may do more than an individual person.

ETA--Libby's smart disclaimer that this, of course, is not to be construed as actual legal advice (I'm a corporate lawyer...very very different practice area!) -- check with an attorney in your state for more specific details. :) I also think getting a personal equine liability insurance policy is also a good idea. They are not that expensive and may give you a little piece of mind.

Bensmom
Feb. 23, 2010, 01:45 PM
I agree with BFNE. I always worry more about what the insurance company will do than an individual. One of the things that many people are not aware of is that oftentimes, a health insurer has subrogation rights.

If the health insurance pays for care related to a horseback riding injury, the insurance company can, in some circumstances, step into the shoes of the injured person and bring suit to recover monies they have paid out in care.

A release does not "protect" you from being sued -- perhaps that is the posture in which your friend said they were useless? Anyone can sue you for anything -- free access to the courts and all that.

BUT, where a release comes in so very handy is in the early (and less expensive) dismissal of a lawsuit. You can show that the person was voluntarily accepting risks that they were aware of, and were also aware of the state's equine liability law and that therefore cannot claim you were negligent.

Releases are good. Even if they are something "extra" that you do, I still like them.

Libby (and this, of course, is not to be construed as actual legal advice -- check with an attorney in your state for more specific details. :D )

Cherry
Feb. 23, 2010, 08:55 PM
Look folks, we just had a lawsuit near me where a person got hurt while riding during an event and tried to sue a non-profit organization (Ryerss Retirement Farm) for 1.2 million dollars. :eek: Personally I wouldn't have the balls to do that to a non-profit (especially after reading the story--person who was suing had previously ridden the horse [many times] who dumped her. The horse was a PMU rescue about 11 years ago and a permanent resident at Ryerss. The president of the organization was also good friends with the plaintiffs grandfather who was a minister.). What an ingrate!

When I contacted an attorney (in PA) years ago he told me if I wanted to allow people to ride my horse that a waiver would be useless if the person got hurt! You can't have someone sign away their right to sue another party if they get hurt....

Our lawyer advised us to post barn rules and one of those rules was that riders were to always wear helmets when they rode. You would also want to post one of those liability signs too--they weren't available at the time I spoke to the lawyer.

The best you can do is get adequate insurance in case of an accident. Times are tough and people are just looking for an excuse to eek out more money just to keep their heads above water.

If you have homeowner's insurance the best thing you can do is get an umbrella policy that would cover you if someone sued you for 2 million dollars, to be on the safe side.

I don't know what you do if you don't have homeowners. Perhaps someone in insurance will come on and tell us.

bornfreenowexpensive
Feb. 23, 2010, 09:13 PM
When I contacted an attorney (in PA) years ago he told me if I want to allow people to ride my horse that a waiver would be useless if the person got hurt! You can't have someone sign away their right to sue another party if they get hurt....



That is correct and incorrect... No you can not stop a person from suing you....but a waiver and a contract CAN affect whether they will WIN that law suit and what damages may be awarded to them. They are not perfect...and will not mean you would win either...but they are far from worthless in my opinion. But I also agree that the insurance isn't a bad idea at all.