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Equine Activity Liability Acts, now in 47 states, were originally enacted with the aim of providing limited liability for activities involving equines.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


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


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).


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

Photo of Julie I. Fershtman

is considered to be one of the nation's leading attorneys in the field of equine law. A frequent author and speaker on legal issues, she has written over 400 published articles, three 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 and, and

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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. 


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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