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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Equine Activity Liability Acts, now in 47 states, were originally enacted with the aim of providing limited liability for activities involving equines.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:

Kentucky 

Kentucky’s statute, codified at K.R.S. § 247.401 – 4029, is actually a “farm animal activity liability law” that applies to “cattle, oxen, sheep, swine, goats, horses, ponies, mules, donkeys, hinnies, ratites (ostrich, rhea, emu), and poultry.” K.R.S. §247.4015(2). Its legislative findings, at K.R.S. § 247.401, state:

The General Assembly finds that activities involving the use and exhibition of farm animals are engaged in by a large number of citizens of Kentucky and that these activities also attract to Kentucky a large number of nonresidents, significantly contributing to the economy of Kentucky. Since it is recognized that there are inherent risks in working with, exhibiting, and using farm animals which should be understood by participants in farm animal activities and which are essentially impossible for owners of farm animals or sponsors of farm animal activities to eliminate, it is the purpose of KRS 247.401 to 247.4029 to define the areas of responsibility and affirmative acts for which activity sponsors, professionals, and participants shall be responsible, to specify risks of injury for which activity sponsors, professionals, and participants shall not be responsible, and to specify areas of responsibilities of farm animal participants. Therefore, the General Assembly determines that to preserve and promote the long Kentucky tradition of activities involving farm animals and the health and safety of the citizens of Kentucky and visitors to the Commonwealth of Kentucky, KRS 247.401 to 247.4029 are necessary to instruct persons voluntarily engaging in farm animal activities of the potential risks inherent in the activities.

Emphasis added.

Texas

In 2011, Texas amended its Equine Activity Liability Act to become a “farm animal activity liability act.” [V.T.C.A., Civil Practice & Remedies Code § 87.001-005.] It defines “farm animals” to include equines, bovines, sheep, goats, pigs, hogs, ratites, including ostriches, rhea, emu, chicken or fowl. [V.T.C.A., Civil Practice & Remedies Code § 87.001(2-a)]. 

Colorado

Colorado’s law applies to equines and llamas. C. R. S. A. § 13-21-119.

Iowa

Iowa’s statute, I. C. A. § 673.1 - .5, applies to “domesticated animals,” which are defined as “an animal commonly referred to as a bovine, swine, sheep, goat, domesticated deer, llama, poultry, rabbit, horse, pony, mule, jenny, donkey, or hinny.” I.C.A. § 673.1(2).

Conclusion

Equine Activity Liability Acts are not necessarily horse-related laws. Some state laws have broadened in scope to include other animals. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Look up the laws in states where you live or do business. To find your state’s law, we suggest this website.
  • Consider updating your contracts and waivers/releases to make sure you comply with the applicable equine activity liability law. You might be surprised to learn that your law was amended.
  • If you borrow old form contracts to develop your own, be cautious as the form you receive might be outdated and based on an obsolete law.

This blog post does not constitute legal advice. When questions arise based on specific situations, direct them to a knowledgeable attorney.

Categories: Liability

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is considered to be one of the nation's leading attorneys in the field of equine law. She has successfully tried equine cases before juries in four states. A frequent author and speaker on legal issues, she has written over 400 published articles, four books, and has lectured at seminars, conventions, and conferences in 29 states on issues involving law, liability, risk management, and insurance. For more information, please also visit www.fershtmanlaw.com and www.equinelaw.net, and www.equinelaw.info.

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Contact Us - Julie Fershtman

"Julie Fershtman is considered by many to be the nation's leading expert on equine activity liability acts. Her 30-minute presentation for a recent educational webinar on equine activity liability acts for the American Horse Council is available for viewing. Please take a look, here's a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCROISSPMJs

Fershtman’s Equine Law Book Wins Fourth National Award

Julie Fershtman’s latest book, Equine Law and Horse Sense, won its fourth national award on May 31, 2021. It was selected to receive a "Finalist" Medal in the 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. 

The 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards are presented by Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group, which is the largest International awards program for indie authors and independent publishers. Here’s a link for the complete list of 2021 winners and finalists: https://www.indiebookawards.com/winners.php?year=2021 

Fershtman’s Equine Law Book Receives Third National Award

Julie Fershtman’s book, Equine Law & Horse Sense, published by the American Bar Association, has been selected to receive a 2020 NYC Big Book Award in the category of “Reference” books.

The NYC Big Book Awards draws nominations world-wide. This is the third award for Fershtman’s book since its publication last year. Here is a link for more information, and to see the list of winners: https://www.nycbigbookaward.com/2020winners

Information on the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/164105493X/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i0

Equine Blog Ranked in Feedspot

Foster Swift's Equine Law Blog was ranked #8 in Feedspot.com's "15 Best Equine Law Blogs and Websites".

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

In 2022, Julie Fershtman is scheduled to be a speaker on equine liability at these conventions:

Fershtman’s Equine Law Book Receives Second National Award

Julie Fershtman’s book, Equine Law & Horse Sense, published by the American Bar Association, has been selected to receive a 2020 NYC Big Book Award in the category of “Reference” books.

The NYC Big Book Awards draws nominations world-wide. This is the third award for Fershtman’s book since its publication last year. Here is a link for more information, and to see the list of winners: https://www.nycbigbookaward.com/2020winners

Information on the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/164105493X/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i0

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 

Some of our Equine Law Services

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 a wide variety of equine-related 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, US Hunter/Jumper Association Annual Meeting, Midwest Horse Fair, Equitana USA, US Dressage Federation Annual Meeting, North American Riding for the Handicapped (now PATH International) 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 directly.

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