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Does Your Boarding Contract Include a Release? Should It?

For years, we have written about the importance of liability releases used by horse owners, instructors, trainers, stables, and others in the equine industry. Stables that use boarding contracts without proper release clauses could be missing a valuable opportunity to manage their risks. Two cases help illustrate why. Read More ›

Categories: Boarding, Contracts

Equine Industry Liability Releases: Are Fewer Words Better?

Julie Fershtman, our Equine Law practitioner, is speaking at the 31st Annual National Conference on Equine Law in Lexington, Kentucky, on the topic of liability releases in equine activities. Today’s blog post shares some of her upcoming remarks. Read More ›

Categories: Liability

Stable Liability: How Expert Witnesses Can Make or Break an Equine Lawsuit

In equine-related lawsuits, parties often hire expert witnesses to testify at trial. Experts are sometimes called upon to testify about a party's compliance (or lack of compliance) with a standard of care. The role of an expert witness is to assist the judge and jury in understanding key issues in a case. For example, an expert can be asked to testify if the equipment used by a riding instructor was properly selected for the horse and rider.

For trial lawyers handling Equine Law cases, among the most difficult tasks is selecting the right expert witness for a case. In a well-known equine case from Minnesota, the Court refused to allow a party's proposed equine expert witness to testify. The Minnesota Supreme Court ultimately upheld that judge's ruling and affirmed the striking of that expert from testifying. Read More ›

Categories: Lawsuit

Selling Horses on a Payment Plan? Leasing Your Horse to Someone? Here's an Advance Planning Checklist

Many people sell their horses on an installment basis or lease out their horses to others for a span of months or years. Frequently, these arrangements are mutually beneficial. But problems can, and do, occur – and they're sometimes very serious. Careful advance planning could either eliminate these problems or reduce their severity. Read More ›

Categories: Liability, Sales/Disputes

Liabilities Based On a Slipping Saddle

Rider rents a horse from a stable, instructor, or dude ranch. Rider falls and is hurt, allegedly due to saddle that slipped. Rider sues, alleging that the provider improperly secured the saddle on the horse.

What happens next? Who is liable? Over the years, numerous lawsuits have been brought based on equestrian injuries blamed on saddles that were allegedly defective or improperly tightened.  Read More ›

Categories: Lawsuit, Liability

Disabled Girl Fights to Keep Miniature Horse as a "Service Horse" at a City Home

Can a disabled teenager keep a miniature horse in an urban location as a “service horse”? That was the issue in an interesting lawsuit that was decided last year by a federal appellate court in Ohio.

At issue was a Blue Ash, Ohio city ordinance banning horses from residential property. Allegedly acting in response to complaints from neighbors about unsanitary conditions and offensive odors created by the horse, the city wanted residents (Anderson and her daughter) to remove a miniature horse from their property, and it brought criminal charges against Anderson. She and her daughter fought back. Read More ›

Categories: Lawsuit, Zoning & Land Use

We'd Love to Have You Become Our Next Client, But …

We'd love to be considered as your next attorney. But we also care deeply about the continued strength and viability of the equine industry and hope that you don’t need us. Legal disputes are expensive to resolve, but careful planning can either prevent them completely or narrow them considerably. We offer some general ideas to help you plan for a dispute-free year: Read More ›

Categories: Contracts, Employment, Sales/Disputes

What You Were Afraid to Ask About Equine Activity Liability Acts

The nation's first Equine Activity Liability Act was enacted in 1989. Now, 47 states (all except California, Maryland, and New York) have them. All of these laws differ. With the passage of time, questions have emerged about how these laws work and what they do. Julie Fershtman, who is widely considered to be the nation's most experienced and knowledgeable lawyer regarding these laws, explained them in a webinar earlier this week for www.equestrianprofessional.com. Here are some of her remarks. Read More ›

Categories: Liability

Planning Ahead with a Pet Trust

Janet is fighting a serious illness, but no medicine gives her more comfort and happiness than her horse, "Whistler." She visits the boarding stable several times a week just to brush his coat and feed him carrots. What if Janet's health takes a turn for the worst - who will take care of "Whistler"? What if the horse needs costly colic surgery while she's too ill to give directions or if she is longer here? Is there anything Janet can do now to ensure that "Whistler" remains with her family and receives proper care and attention in the years ahead?

Yes, under Michigan law it is possible for Janet to create a trust, known as a Pet Trust, for the care of her horse. If you have a horse like Janet, would you like to provide instructions for its care if you are no longer able to do so due to your death or disability? If so, by creating a Pet Trust you can, for example:  Read More ›

Categories: Boarding, News & Events

Equine Activity Liability Acts – Not Just About Horses

Equine Activity Liability Acts, now in 47 states, were originally enacted with the aim of providing limited liability for activities involving equines. For example, the statute in Washington State, which was the first enacted in the country, defines an “equine” as “a horse, pony, mule, donkey, or hinny.” [Rev. Code Wash. Sec. 4.24.530(1)]. Over the years, these statutes have broadened to include a variety of different animals – and some might even surprise you. A sampling of states shows the range of animals they sometimes cover. For example: Read More ›

Categories: Liability

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Our Equine law blog (and its author) in the news!

Julie Fershtman, author of our popular and prolific Equine Law Blog, was interviewed by the State Bar of Michigan. The interview, which called Fershtman "Lawyer-Blogger," discussed our Equine Law Blog. We truly believe that this blog is the nation's most active blog serving the equine industry on equine law topics, and we thank you for visiting it. Read more here.

Julie Fershtman’s Recent and Upcoming Equine Law Speaking Engagements Include:

National Conference on Equine Law in Louisville, Kentucky on April 29, 2020. Topic will be on Waivers/Releases of Liability Involving Minor Participants. 

U.S. Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) Annual Convention in Denver, Colorado on December 10, 2019. Topic will be on Equine Liability. 

IRMI Emmett J. Vaughan Agribusiness Conference (“AgriCon”) in Sacramento, CA (April 2019), and Richmond, VA (June 2019) and in Des Moines, IA (September 2019), on topics of “Equine Activity Liability Acts” and “Equine Mortality Insurance Disputes.”

National Conference on Equine Law in May 2019 in Lexington, KY, on the topic of “Equine Activity Liability Act Updates” and liabilities involving hosting of equine clinics. 

Agricultural Claims Conference in Kansas City, MO, in March 2019 on topics of “Loose Livestock Liabilities.”

2018 American Bar Association Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL, on “Equine Mortality Coverage and Disputes.”

November 2018, American Horse Council webinar on “Equine Liability.”

Honors & Recognitions

Equine lawyer, Julie Fershtman, has received these prestigious equine industry awards from respected equine organizations:

"Excellence in the Advancement of Animal Law Award" - American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Law Section Animal Law Committee

"Distinguished Service Award" - American Youth Horse Council

"Industry Service Award" - Michigan Equine Partnership

"Catalyst Award"- Michigan Horse Council

"Outstanding Achievement Award" - American Riding Instructors Association 

"Partner in Safety Award" - American Riding Instructors Association 

"Associate Service Award" - United Professional Horseman's Association

"National Partnership in Safety" Award" - Certified Horsemanship Association 

What our Equine Law Services can Provide

Handling breach of contract, fraud/ misrepresentation, commercial code, and other claims involving equine-related transactions including purchases/sales, leases, mare leases/foal transfers, and partnerships.

Litigating disputes in court or through alternative dispute resolution (arbitration, mediation, facilitation).

Defending equine/farm/equestrian industry professionals,  businesses, and associations in personal injury claims and lawsuits.

Drafting and negotiating contracts for boarding, training, sales, waivers/releases, leases, and numerous other equine-related transactions.

Representing and advising insurers on  coverage and policy language as well as litigation;

Advising equine industry clubs and associations regarding management, rules, bylaws, disputes, and regulations.

Representing some of the equine industry's top trainers, competitors, stables, and associations.

Counseling industry professionals, stable managers, and individual horse owners. 

THE NATION'S MOST SOUGHT-AFTER EQUINE LAW SPEAKER

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.

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