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Equine Activity Laws

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This segment contains law cases that address liability questions under equine activity statutes.  These statutes, intended to discourage frivolous lawsuits against equine providers for personal injuries, have been enacted during the past 15 years by 44 states.

Often, these laws require equine providers to post signs in prominent places and/or to include certain language in contracts in order to take advantage of the laws' protections.  It is, therefore, important to know whether your state has an Equine Activity Law and, if so, what steps it requires you to take in order to take advantage of its protections.

If your state has enacted an Equine Activity Law, you may view its full text by going to Statutes for Horsemen.  

(scroll down to view cases)



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U.S. District Court, Louisiana (1994) Instructor liability for not checking tack

Wyoming Supreme Court (1995) Rent-a-horse provider may be liable for mounting accident
Tennessee Court of Appeals (1995) Camp not liable under equine activity act

Louisiana Court of Appeals (1996) Equine activity act applied to show participant
Georgia Court of Appeals (1996) Georgia equine activity act interpreted

Colorado Court of Appeals (1997) Release form and equine activity Act don't stop lawsuit

Colorado Supreme Court (1998) Supreme Court reverses Court of Appeals to enforce release
Wyoming Supreme Court (1998)  Equine activity law doesn't apply to horse sale
Arizona Court of Appeals (1998)  Equine activity law doesn't stop lawsuit for injury to child
U.S. District Court -- Wyoming (1998)  Slipping saddle an inherent risk of riding
Louisiana Court of Appeals (1998)  Equine activity statute constitutional

Illinois Appellate Court (1999)  Recreational riding not an equine activity
South Dakota Supreme Court (1999) AT&T not entitled to benefit of statute for trench accident
South Dakota Supreme Court (1999) Equine activity statute constitutional
Michigan Court of Appeals (1999) Equine activity statute precludes recovery for horse bite injury

Illinois Appellate Court (1999) Show sponsor not liable for injury from stallion kick in warm-up area
Massachusetts Superior Court (1999) Instructor has continuing duty to match rider with horse during lesson
U.S. District Court (1999) Parking truck at exit from cross-country ski trail not an inherent risk

Wisconsin Court of Appeals (2000) Equine professional has duty to determne rider's level of skill
Michigan Court of Appeals (2000) Act doesn't apply to injury to exercise jockey at racetrack, but release wins
U.S. Court of Appeals (2000) Slipping saddle is an inherent risk of horseback riding

Georgia Court of Appeals (2000) Statute protects horse seller from injury to trainer
Wisconsin Court of Appeals (2000) Statute not limited to protection of equine professionals

Tennessee Court of Appeals (2001) Carriage service not protected by statute
Georgia Court of Appeals (2001) Posting and notice not required of "other persons"
Ohio Court of Appeals (2001) Ordinary bystander comes within act as spectator

Colorado Court of Appeals (2001) Member of calf roping club entitled to protection of statute
U.S. District Court - Wyoming (2001) Wyoming law not preempted by federal law in national forest

Ohio Court of Appeals (2002) Owner of dogs chasing horse cannot claim protection of statute
Colorado Court of Appeals (2002) Wrangler negligence is not protected by Equine Activity Statute
Iowa Court of Appeals (2002) Injury from runaway parade horse protected by Equine Activity Statute

Massachusetts Superior Court (2002) Statute doesn't stop lawsuit in racehorse trial ride injury case
Texas Court of Appeals (2002) Equine activity statute not restricted to facilities open to the public
U.S. Court of Appeals (2002) Court remands case to decide whether inherent risk or wrangler negligence caused accident

Illinois Appellate Court (2003) Equine Activity Act protects only sponsors and professionals

Texas Court of Appeals (2003) Trailride provider negligence not covered by statute
Wisconsin Court of Appeals (2003) Providing equine as exception to statute does not include selling horse
Arizona Court of Appeals (2003) Trailride release upheld; statute is not unconstitutional
Iowa Supreme Court (2003) Fair spectator hit by runaway horse not barred from lawsuit by statute

Minnesota Court of Appeals (2004) Equine activity statute in Iowa applied because that was the place of the accident
Florida Court of Appeals (2004) Failure to post sign required by statute deprives the professional of the statute's benefits
Georgia Court of Appeals (2004) Neither statute nor assumption of risk protects equine provider who overstated horse's gentleness
U.S. Court of Appeals (2004) Skiing accident not from inherent risk under Wyoming Recreational Safety Act
Louisiana Court of Appeals (2004) Merely boarding a horse does not subject the owner to equine activity statute immunity

Wisconsin Court of Appeals (2005) Statute protects colt breaking instructor and landowner

New York Supreme Court (2005) Fall from horse caused by horse becoming frightened, not negligence

California Court of Appeals (2005) Collision with shadow fence an inherent risk without more evidence on equine behavior

Wisconsin Court of Appeals (2005) Presence of "volatile" Arabian ridden by novice an inherent risk in colt breaking class

Wisconsin Court of Appeals (2005) Cantering in third lesson is negligent management of lesson situation

Colorado Court of Appeals (2005) Instruction requiring jury finding of safe horse and safe activity is reversible error
Texas Court of Appeals (2005) Horse’s violent reaction to fire ants is an inherent risk
Texas Court of Appeals (2005) 
Employee is not a participant within the meaning of the statute

Michigan Court of Appeals (2006) Release protects horse owner after broken bit causes injury
U.S. District Court, W.D. Louisiana (2006)  Contractor had no trucks on the premises and could not have spooked the horse
Michigan Court of Appeals (2006Viewing horses for sale is an equine activity
U.S. Dist. Court – Michigan (2006)  Statute does not shield owner when horse has history
New Jersey Court of Appeals (2006)  Matching a horse to the rider is question for jury

Ohio Court of Appeals (2007)  Clap of thunder is the type of risk that the statute is designed to immunize.
U.S. District Court, W. Virginia (2007)  Breech of horseman's duties must proximately cause the injury.
U.S. Court of Appeals (2007)  Exhibitors must permit inspection of a Tennessee Walking horse even if he believes it to be unreasonable.