University of Vermont AAHS

Give Us Your Opinion

Jan Dawson
President, AAHS

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


Not all Lawsuits come out as expected. This can be due to problems with the evidence. It may no longer exist. Also, all participants in a trial are human so all the usual weaknesses in that department are there. No one is 100% all the time and seldom are all the participants in a trial 100% on the same day.

Several years ago a 14-year-old girl with considerable riding experience was sent to a residential prep school with an extensive riding program. The young girl went to the stable early one day to get her assigned horse and there was no one there to supervise. She, in fact, saw no one at all. She proceeded to get her horse and was starting to tie him up with the quick release knot she had been shown when the horse sat back amputating a finger. She was rushed to the hospital and the finger was reattached and but is noticeably malformed and does not work normally.

The head of the school went to see her in the hospital and made jokes about the ropers who were missing fingers. The one person who was at the barn said he knew the young girl was there because he had seen her walk by on the way to get her horse. He never checked on her till he heard her scream.

The school took the position that the girl showed enthusiasm by going to the barn early even though there was no one there.

Besides the director, the actual supervisors of the program were whatever faculty members could be talked into doing it with whatever experience they had. This experience could range from a little to a lot.

The kids had all been taught the quick release knot. The accident happened the second time the young girl had used the horse. There is no doubt that the young girl was a nice rider but she had come from a background where she had never before been taught to tie a horse.

The riding program at this school was mandatory for the first two years and the kids had not been told never to go to the stables until their ride times since they performed a great deal of the stable work.

For those of you that have formed an opinion by this point, would that opinion change if you were told that this horse had sat back before? Why not email or write us your opinion. Whose side do you favor and why. Does it matter that the horse had sat back in the past. Can we retrain a behavioral problem?

Hint: How do you know if the retraining works? How do you know if it doesn’t work"

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