University of Vermont AAHS

Ontario Enacts a Strong Helmet Law

[reproduced from fall 2001 Caution:Horses, Vol. 6, No. 3]

 

On June 29, 2001, Queen Elizabeth II gave royal assent to a Bill enacted by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Canada. This bill, enacted by the legislature of the most populous province in Canada, makes the wearing of approved safety helmets mandatory for equestrians under the age of 18 in most situations. It also requires such persons to wear appropriate safety footwear or to ride with safety stirrups. Equine providers are required to make helmets and footwear available for rental to customers at a reasonable fee. With a penalty of up to a $5,000 fine, this is easily the toughest helmet law to be enacted by any legislative body in North America. The law went into effect at the end of September.

AAHS received the following email from Laurie and Paul Hader, whose daughter Elizabeth was killed of head injuries suffered in a riding accident, about their success in securing the enactment of this important legislation. We have reprinted the email and the statute. We have also posted the statute in the Statutes for Horsemen: Helmets Laws segment of the AAHS web site.

We congratulate the Haders in their achievement, while acknowledging that it cannot possibly erase their loss.


Ms. Jan Dawson
President
American Association for Horsemanship Safety

Dear Jan,

As you may be aware, Phyllis Morris, my wife Laurie and I have been pushing for legislation that would mandate the use of helmets, riding boots and/or safety stirrups for young riders. We have done this in memory of our daughter Elizabeth Hader who was killed horseback riding. Elizabeth died of head injuries.

On June 29, 2001 Bill 12, Horse Riding Safety Act, 2001 received Royal Assent in Ontario. Bill 12 calls for riding helmets, boots or safety stirrups for all horseback riders under 18 years of age. The Bill was introduced as a private members bill by MPP Tina Molinari.

I am sending you a copy of the legislation in the hope that it can be used as a model for legislation in other provinces and states in Canada and the United States. It is our sincerest hope that you publish the bill in your next newsletter and make it available on your web site, so that people in other jurisdictions can be made aware of the legislation.

My wife and I would also like to acknowledge the support of the Association of Riding Establishments of Ontario and the Ontario Equestrian Federation. These two associations have established minimum safety requirements for Riding Establishments and Programs and clearly supported Phyllis Morris and Tina Molinari's efforts in drafting the legislation and getting it through committee reviews. The Association of Riding Establishments of Ontario’s web site is www.horse.on.ca/are/are.htm.

Sincerely,

Laurie and Paul Hader

PS. Jan, this provincial legislation applies to all horseback riding styles including western or cowboy style.

Bill 12

(Chapter 4, Statutes of Ontario, 2001)

All Act to increase the safety of equestrian riders

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:

Definitions

1. In this Act,

"horse" means any animal of the equine species that is over 14.2 hands in height and does not include a pony; ("cheval")

"horse riding establishment" means a business that provides horses for hire for riding or to be used in providing instruction in riding whether the horses are ridden on the grounds of the establishment or elsewhere; ("etablissement d'equitation")

"operator" includes a person and an individual in charge of running a horse riding establishment either through having overall control of the establishment or being in charge of the daily running of the establishment; ("exploitant")

"person" includes a corporation, association and partnership, ("personne")

Responsibility of establishment

2. (1) No owner or operator of a horse riding establishment shall permit any rider under the age of 18 years to ride any horse boarded by the rider in the stables of the establishment or transported by the rider to the establishment unless the rider has and is correctly using the following equipment in the manner that it was designed to be used:

1. A helmet that meets current standards for equipment designed and manufactured for use while riding horses as established by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM), the British Standards Institute (BSI) or the European Safety Standards.

2. Hard soled footwear with a heel of no less than 1.5 centimetres.

3. Tack properly fitted on the horse.

(2) No owner or operator of a horse riding establishment shall permit any rider under the age of 18 years to ride any horse hired out by the establishment, unless the rider has and is correctly using the equipment described in paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of subsection (1) in the manner that it was designed to be used.

Availability of equipment

(3) Every owner or operator of a horse riding establishment shall ensure that the equipment described in paragraphs I and 2 of subsection (1) is available for hire at reasonable rates.

Exception

(4) An owner or operator of a horse riding establishment is not in contravention of subsection (1) or (2) if the rider does not have the equipment described in paragraph 2 of subsection (1) but is equipped with properly functioning and sized hooded stirrups, safety stirrups designed to prevent the rider's foot from passing through or becoming wedged in the stirrups, or stirrups designed to break away when the rider falls from the horse.

(5) Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply to riders participating in horse shows or competitions.

Regulations

(6) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations,

(a) exempting from any requirement of this section,

(i) any class of owners or operators of horse riding establishments, or

(ii) any class of horse riding establishments; and

(b) prescribing conditions for the exemptions.

Penalty

3. Every person who contravenes section 2 is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $5,000.

 

4. The Highway Traffic Act is amended by adding the following section:

Duty of horse riders

104.1 (1) No person under the age of 18 years shall ride or be mounted on a horse on a highway unless that person has and is correctly using the following equipment in the manner that it was designed to be used:

1. A helmet that complies with the requirements under the Horse Riding Safety Act, 2001.

2. Footwear that complies with the requirements under the Horse Riding Safety Act, 2001.

Exception

(2) Paragraph 2 of subsection (1) does not apply to a person equipped with properly functioning and sized hooded stirrups, safety stirrups designed to prevent the rider's foot from passing through or becoming wedged in the stirrups, or stirrups designed to break away when the rider falls from the horse.

Duty of parent or guardian

(3) No parent or guardian of a person under the age of 16 years shall authorize or knowingly permit the person to ride or be mounted on a horse on a highway in contravention of subsection (1).

Rider to identify self

(4) A police officer who finds any person contravening subsection (1) may require that person to stop and to provide identification of himself or herself.

(5) Every person who is required to stop, by a police officer acting under subsection (4), shall stop and identify himself or herself to the police officer.

(6) For the purposes of this section, giving one's correct name and address is sufficient identification.

(7) A police officer may arrest without warrant any person who does not comply with subsection (5).

Commencement

5. This Act comes into force 90 days after it receives Royal Assent.

Short title

6. The short title of this Act is the Horse Riding Safety Act, 2001.


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