Tag Archives: Leone Equestrian Law

My Horse Damaged Property at the Boarding Barn. Am I Responsible for Paying for It?

By Leone Equestrian Law

A. I board my horse at a local stable, and unfortunately, he damaged his stall door overnight. We don’t know exactly what happened, but thankfully he wasn’t injured. However, the door will need to be replaced. It will probably cost a few hundred dollars, but there is nothing included in my boarding contract about me having to cover any costs from damage from my horse. Am I responsible for paying the cost of replacing it?

B. As many of us know, horses can be accident-prone. Even though we’d like to keep our horses swaddled in bubble wrap for their own safety, that’s just not possible. An experienced barn owner or manager can do their best to help prevent accidents from occurring at their facility, but sometimes things happen beyond their control. Following safety protocols and keeping the stable and fences in good working order can go a long way in protecting the horses from potential accidents.

Fortunately, your horse was not injured during his ordeal, but now the main concern is who will cover the replacement costs of the damaged stall door. Since your stable owner did not include any provision in your boarding contract specifying that you as the horse’s owner would be responsible for any damage to the facility caused by your horse, you are not legally obliged to pay for the damages. Some boarding contracts do contain provisions like these, though they are more commonly found in self-care boarding agreements where the owner, not the stable, provides care to the horse on the stable’s property. In your case, because nothing was included in the contract about this scenario, the stable owner will be responsible for the repair costs.

For many boarding stable owners, repairing damage around the facility is the cost of doing business, and the stable usually pays for all damages when they occur, regardless of the amount. They might even factor in these potential expenses when they set their monthly boarding fee. Also, in some situations (such as a broken fence between two fields), it is not always obvious which horse is the culprit. So, to be fair, the stable owner will often cover the costs to mend the fence and avoid placing the blame on any particular horse in order to keep relations with the boarders harmonious.

However, since your horse obviously was the culprit in the damage to his door, it’s worth having a conversation with the stable owner about the situation. You could offer to chip in on the cost of the new door, which they would probably appreciate. You might also try and figure out the cause of the accident, if you can, to avoid any future problems. Maybe your horse is stabled next to another horse he dislikes, and he might need to be moved to a different stall to avoid any bickering.

In any case, being able to refer to your signed boarding contract in a situation like this is always useful. Carefully reviewing everything in your boarding contract, especially before you sign it, will help you be prepared to handle situations like this and can protect you from any unexpected financial obligations.

Visit www.equestriancounsel.com to learn more or email info@equestriancounsel.com with inquiries.

Should I Let My Horse Be Used in a Lesson Program to Offset Board Costs?

Jump Media Photo.

By Leone Equestrian Law

Q. When our barn’s lesson program starts back up again after the quarantine, should I let my horse be used in my trainer’s lessons in order to help offset my monthly board costs? He would be perfect for the job and I’d love the reduction on his board, but I’m not sure of all the risks involved.

A. With the coronavirus pandemic affecting many equestrians’ financial situations, horse owners might be looking for ways to offset barn expenses in the near future after training programs are back to their normal routines. In certain situations, allowing your trainer or barn owner to use your horse in lessons, if he’s suitable for the job, could be a way reduce a portion of your board. However, before you dive into this agreement, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Even if your horse is quiet and capable of acting in this role, there are still certain “what ifs” to consider. What if he gets injured when someone else is riding him, or what if a rider falls off him during a lesson and gets hurt? You’ll want to make sure you address all liability concerns before setting up this type of agreement.

Though the farm owner likely has liability insurance, and also uses a liability waiver to protect him or her, this type of insurance or liability release does not typically protect individual horse owners or boarders. Make sure to take the necessary precautions to protect you and your horse before beginning this arrangement.

Here are four things you can do:

  1. Get Your Name Added to the Farm Liability Waiver

Ask the farm owner or trainer to add your name in the liability waiver signed by each rider, including you in the list of individuals who cannot be sued. As the horse’s owner, you may also want to create a separate liability waiver for lesson riders to sign. This will release you from all liability from injuries that result from riding the horse and/or caring for the horse during the lesson

  1. Be Included as an Additional Insured Individual

It is also a good idea to ask to be included in the barn’s liability insurance as an additional insured individual. Review the insurance coverage policy yourself to ensure that everything is applicable to the activities that your horse will be used for.

  1. Purchase Your Own Liability Insurance Coverage

If you don’t feel comfortable asking to be included in the farm’s liability insurance or if this is not an option the farm owner can agree to, consider purchasing your own liability insurance coverage. This is called Personal Horse Owner’s Liability Insurance or sometimes called “Private Horse Owner’s Liability Insurance.” This type of insurance generally protects the horse owner (and possibly others that the owner may designate) in the event that someone is hurt while riding, handling, or near the horse.

  1. Create a Contract

Once liability coverage is established, consider having all the details of the agreement between you and the farm owner documented in a signed contract. An experienced equine law professional can create such a document for you, or you can create one yourself. Click below to learn more about what should be included in this contract.

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Visit www.equestriancounsel.com to learn more or email info@equestriancounsel.com with inquiries.

Three Things You Can Do to Be Productive When You’re Stuck at Home

By Leone Equestrian Law

Question: What’s the best way to be productive in my downtime while I’m at home during the coronavirus outbreak?

Answer: Great question! While we are all on “stall rest” and having to stay a few strides apart from each other these days, now is a good opportunity to catch up on some chores you might have been neglecting at home. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many riders who board their horses are not able to visit the barn, so hopefully crossing these tasks off your list now will free you up for more saddle time in the future.

Here are three things you can do to pass the time at home — and still stay productive.

  1. Plan for Your Horse’s Future.

It’s not a situation that any horse owner wants to think about, but it is a good to have a plan for your horse in case something happens to you. One thing you can do is add your horse to your will. There are many different things to consider for this, so your first step might be to get in touch with an attorney who can walk you through the process. They might recommend establishing a trust for your horse in connection with the planning for your will and/or estate.

Consider choosing an attorney who specializes in equine law – they have the advantage of being more familiar with the horse world and have an understanding of the costs, obligations, and goals associated with leaving your horse with someone else upon your death. Plus, they can help walk you through some scenarios that you can stipulate in your will, such as if your horse is to be sold (and by whom), donated, or will live at a specified retirement facility. Being able to have a set plan in place for the future will give you peace of mind.

  1. Organize Your Horse’s Medical Records.

If you are like many horse owners, you might store all your horse’s medical records, farrier invoices, and barn paperwork in a binder, folder, or even a giant stack on your desk. Now is a great time to eliminate all that paper clutter and have a better organization system.

You could consider going digital and utilizing handy tools or apps that make organizing and accessing your horse’s important health information more accessible. There are many different types of programs available, and some also allow you to sync your horse’s US Equestrian records with their profile. These types of digital systems would be exceptionally useful if you have multiple horses as well.

Whatever system you decide to use to organize your records, whether it’s a fresh, color-coded binder, or an app on your phone, it will save you from feeling stressed and frustrated when you’re looking for an important document in the future. If you plan to ever sell or insure your horse, you will need to have the most accurate and current information available on your horse’s medical history for the buyer or insurance provider.

  1. Build Your Business.

If you’re a professional in the industry, now might be a good time to work on your business. Perhaps you’ve thought about putting together a syndication for one of your horses but you’re not sure how to do it. Maybe you’ve been planning to reach out to some potential sponsors, or you’d like to work out some collaborative opportunities with other members of the equestrian industry. Take the time to do some research, brainstorm new ideas for your business, network with other professionals, and seek help when you need it.

Do you already have a website and social media accounts created for your farm or business? Go through them and make sure they’re up to date. Are your latest show results included? Is all of your contact information accurate? Perhaps think about starting a blog to share news with your clients and sponsors to keep them informed.

Also, you might want to take the time to review any business paperwork such as release forms for riders, boarding agreements, and operational and safety policies at your farm. Do any of them need to be updated? Now is a great time to review those documents and make sure they’re accurate, current, and legal.

Hopefully, you can knock out some of these tedious tasks now while you are stuck at home so that you will have more time to enjoy your horse later.

Visit www.equestriancounsel.com to learn more or email info@equestriancounsel.com with inquiries.

Can a Minor Drive a Golf Cart at a Horse Show?

By Leone Equestrian Law

Q: We are planning to rent a golf cart during an upcoming horse show in Florida. What are some things we need to keep in mind? Can my 14-year-old daughter drive the cart, even though she doesn’t have a driver’s license yet?

Answer: The first thing to know is that each state has its own rules regarding the age requirements for driving a golf cart. As a result, what may be considered an acceptable age in one place could be illegal in another. This is why it is important to always check the rules and regulations if you are considering letting a minor drive a golf cart.

In most states (including Florida), a child has to be at least 14 years of age to be able to drive a golf cart. In other places such as Texas, the driver has to be around 16 years old. Then there are states such as California and South Carolina that allow children to drive golf carts at the age of 13.

It’s also important to know what Florida defines as a golf cart versus an LSV (low-speed vehicle). According to its statute, Florida defines an LSV as a four-wheeled electric vehicle whose top speed is greater than 20 mph, but less than 25 mph. The minute that golf cart exceeds speeds of 20 mph, it becomes an LSV and is subject to a different set of rules. In Florida, low-speed vehicles are considered motor vehicles and are required to be titled, registered, and insured with Personal Injury Protection and Property Damage Liability coverage in order to be operated on Florida streets and highways, while golf carts in Florida are not required to be insured (although insurance, even on golf carts, is highly recommended).

Also, any person operating an LSV must have a valid driver’s license in their immediate possession. Be aware that your daughter may be able to drive the golf cart, but not an LSV — make sure you know which one you’re renting!

So, even though a golf cart driver is not required by Florida law to be a licensed driver, it is nonetheless a good idea. In addition to being of age, drivers are also required to know the rules of the road and how to safely operate such a vehicle.

Now that you know your 14-year-old daughter can legally operate a golf cart in Florida, but not an LSV, you should also be aware of liability concerns and consider if it is worth the risk if she damages property or injures someone.

Click here to read more about this topic as well as safety tips when driving a golf cart.

Visit www.equestriancounsel.com to learn more or email info@equestriancounsel.com with inquiries.

Does Lunging Someone Else’s Horse Put Your Amateur Status at Risk?

By Leone Equestrian Law

Question: I work as a groom, but I also compete myself in the amateur jumpers. I occasionally lunge horses for other clients, but I was just told that this revokes my amateur status as lunging is considered training! Is it true that just lunging a horse could revoke or put my amateur status at risk?

Answer: It may not be the answer that you want to hear, but this is true. In your situation, lunging other people’s horses does violate your amateur status – but it may not violate the amateur status of, say, your friend at the barn. Here’s why:

While your friend could lunge your horse for you as a favor with no ramification, because you are likely being compensated for your work as groom, including for the lunging of horses, you would be found in violation of U.S. Equestrian rule book rule GR1306, a.k.a. the infamous “amateur rule.”

Let’s delve a little bit deeper.

The rule states:

“3. Permitted activities by Amateur. An Amateur is permitted to do the following:

h. Accept remuneration for providing service in one’s capacity as a: clinic manager or organizer (so long as they are not performing the activities of instructor or trainer), presenter or panelist at a Federation licensed officials’ clinic, competition manager, competition secretary, judge, steward, technical delegate, course designer, announcer, TV commentator, veterinarian, groom, farrier, tack shop operator, breeder, or boarder, or horse transporter.”

You’ll see that groom is included in the list of roles which an amateur can receive remuneration for without risking their amateur status, so you may think you are in the clear. However, the rule also reads:

“…a person is a professional if after his/her 18th birthday he/she does any of the following:

a. Accepts remuneration AND rides, exercises, drives, shows, trains, assists in training, schools, or conducts clinics or seminars.”

Because lunging is considered exercising, and could also be considered training in some circumstances, it does violate the rule.

You can review the amateur status rules in full here.

Anytime that you appear to be paid for exercising, riding, or training horses, you put your amateur status at risk. By being aware of the purpose and intent of the amateur rule, you can likely avoid running into problems with amateur status.

Whoever Stands with George Should Sit Down and Shut Up, While the USEF Needs to Stand Up and Speak Out

by Armand Leone

Sexual abuse of minors by an adult has no place in our sport. Failing to acknowledge the problems in our past guarantees that problems will continue. Regardless of how extraordinary George Morris was as a horse trainer, his abuse of young boys was unconscionable and deserves condemnation without reservation.

The recommendation of SafeSport to suspend Mr. Morris was followed by an independent arbitrator’s upholding the suspension after a full evidentiary hearing – that should be the end of the discussion. Unfortunately, it is not. Some in our equestrian community still “stand with George” and blame his victims. It is now time for these deniers to sit down and shut up.

Read More Here

Visit www.equestriancounsel.com to learn more or email info@equestriancounsel.com with inquiries.