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Foster Swift: Equine Law

Honors & Recognitions

Congratulations, Julie! We're proud to share that Julie Fershtman has received two prestigious awards.

On April 13, 2013, she received the American Youth Horse Council's 2013 "Distinguished Service" Award. As the award itself states, she received it "[i]n recognition of years of dedicated service to the American Youth Horse Council and tireless efforts to touch the lives of youth involved with horses." For more information about the American Youth Horse Council, please visit www.ayhc.com/.

On May 7, 2013, Julie received the 2013 "Industry Award" from the Michigan Equine Partnership for her work over the years supporting legislation to promote and protect the Michigan equine industry. For more information about the Michigan Equine Partnership, please visit www.miequine.com/.


We're pleased to share that Julie just won a case in Michigan where she defended a boarding and training stable that was sued by a visitor who was injured in the barn aisle. Julie cautions that this case might have been avoided altogether if the stable required every visitor to sign its waiver/release of liability. (Julie, interestingly, drafted that stable's release document years ago but the stable only presented it to customers.) Make sure that your release is well-worded and complies with the laws of your state.

Other Articles

"The Seller's Contract Includes an "As Is" Disclaimer – Now What?" - Desert Mirage Magazine, August 2013

"What Mare Owners Should Look for in a Typical Horse-Breeding Contracts." - America's Horse Daily, September 14, 2012

Should Exculpatory Agreements Relieve Liabilities Founded on an Equine Activity Liability Act? American Bar Association - TIPS Animal Law Committee Newsletter, Fall 2012

Win Equine law Books!

We're always on the lookout for good article and update ideas for the Equine Law Blog. Please share yours! We'll give the sender of best tip of the month a free copy of Julie Fershtman's books, EQUINE LAW & HORSE SENSE and MORE EQUINE LAW & HORSE SENSE. Click here to send your ideas. [For more info on these and other publications written by Julie Fershtman, please visit www.equinelaw.net and www.equinelaw.info or call her directly at (248) 785-4731.]

Large Step Forward for the Horse Industry

We applaud the American Horse Council (www.horsecouncil.org) for its national marketing initiative for the horse industry. The AHC joined together ten national associations and large corporate industry stakeholders to make this happen. We await its marketing plan, which will propose ways to help people become more interested in horses and equine activities, either as participants or spectators.


Did you know Julie Fershtman has spoken at the American Horse Council Annual Meeting, Equine Affaire, Midwest Horse Fair, Equitana USA, US Dressage Federation Annual Meeting, North American Riding for the Handicapped (now PATH International) Annual Meeting, American Morgan Horse Association Annual Meeting, American Paint Horse Association Annual Meeting, US Pony Clubs, Inc.'s Annual Meeting, All-American Quarter Horse Congress, American Youth Horse Council Annual Meeting, American Riding Instructors Association Annual Meeting, CHA Annual Meeting, and numerous others? Consider signing her up for your convention. Contact Julie.

Equestrian Safety Helmets

Equine activities can deliver a deadly impact to your head if you get kicked or fall. Safety helmets are designed to cushion and re-distribute the force of certain blows to the head. Depending on the impact you sustain, your safety helmet might allow you to walk away unharmed from an accident that would have killed you or required costly long-term care had you not worn a helmet. Read More ›

Categories: Regulatory

Is a Horse Really "Abandoned"?

When a horse facility takes in a horse for care and keeping, but the horse's owner fails to pay boarding fees and is nowhere to be found, is the horse "abandoned"? Surprisingly, many stables simply draw their own conclusions and then take drastic action, such as give away horses, lease them out, use them in lessons, or sell them off. Is that legal? Probably not. Read More ›

Categories: Boarding

Liability Releases and Equine Activity Liability Acts: Utah's Highest Court Addresses How One Affects the Other

Since the equine activity liability acts were enacted, a question has arisen as to whether a person can legally sign away claims under them. According to the majority of courts across the country addressing the issue, the answer is "yes." Read More ›

Categories: Liability

Recent Court Case is a Reminder for Owners of Insured Horses

The importance of complying with an insurance policy’s notice requirements has become especially newsworthy thanks to Julie Fershtman’s courtroom victory last year in an equine insurance coverage lawsuit in an Illinois federal court. In that case, a horse owner sued the company challenging its denial of benefits under an equine insurance policy. Read More ›

Categories: Contracts, Insurance

Upcoming Webinar You Won't Want to Miss

Julie Fershtman is the speaker for tomorrow's webinar through the Certified Horsemanship Association entitled: "Risk Management – What You Need to Know about Liability, Contracts and Releases."

Click here for more information
(http://cha-ahse.org/store/pages/219/CHA_Monthly_Webinars.html )

Categories: Contracts, Liability

Does An Equine Activity Liability Act Apply? Take Our Test

State equine activity liability laws generally, but not always, apply to equine activity "participants" who are “engaged in an equine activity” at the time of injury. Over the years, cases have addressed whether people injured on the grounds of an equine activity qualify as “participants.” Let’s take a look at two noteworthy cases addressing the issue and find out whether you agree with the courts. Read More ›

Categories: Liability

Is It Horse-Friendly Property? Know The Answer Before You Buy

A caller years ago, had a difficult legal problem. He recently bought a home and surrounding land, converted a back yard work shop into a horse stall, set up new pasture fencing and moved in his horse. His life-long dream of owning a horse property within his budget, he thought, had just been realized.

Within weeks, however, his dream seemed to shatter when he received a notice from the municipality that his horse and fencing had to go. What he had not known, until that point, is that his municipality’s zoning ordinances included set-back restrictions for fencing. The ordinance required that his fence lines be within a substantial distance from his property line. Unfortunately for him, his lot was very narrow and compliance with the ordinance would make his horse pasture the size of a dog run. Read More ›

Categories: Zoning & Land Use

Michigan's Equine Activity Liability Act: What's Next?

Horses, by their nature, present risks because they are large, powerful, unpredictable animals that act on instinct. Indeed, a horse with no dangerous or aggressive history nevertheless has the potential to hurt anyone who is riding, driving, handling, or near it. Injuries bring the possibility of litigation.

The Michigan Equine Activity Liability Act is one way in which liability is limited or controlled. Click here to read an article, published in the January Foster Swift Agricultural Law Newsletter, on Julie's thoughts of the Michigan Equine Activity Liability Act, the Act's history and its purpose. To subscribe to our Agricultural Law Newsletter, click here.

Categories: Liability

Time to Make a Change: How to Amend Your Contract

Our clients have asked how to amend their contracts, especially after they hire us to draft them and want our new contracts to replace the old ones.

Amending a contract is not difficult as long as your documentation makes clear what you are trying to accomplish. In our experience, however, we've seen equine business operators draft their own contracts which are anything but clear and cause problems. Of the many ways in which a contract can be amended, here are a few examples: Read More ›

Categories: Contracts

Equine Leases – Common Problems and How to Avoid Them

We receive numerous inquiries from people who have encountered problems during their equine leases – both from lessors (the ones who own the horse and part with it subject to the lease terms) and lessees (the ones who receive use of the horse). Advance planning, and legal help, can prevent several problems. Here are some equine lease problems and suggestions for avoiding them. Read More ›

Categories: Contracts