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Should Stables Allow Roving Riding Instructors to Do Business on Their Property?

Many riding instructors have no home base but, instead, do business by traveling from stable to stable.  The problem is, stables put themselves at risk of liability by providing facilities for lessons.  What should stables consider when they are approached by instructors who seek to give lessons on stable’s property?

Risks

Liability is, by far, the stable’s biggest concern.  Certainly, roving riding instructors operate independent businesses, but that fact does not make these arrangements risk-free for stables where they operate.  When someone is injured and hires a lawyer, the reality is that the lawyer will usually direct claims or lawsuits against all people or businesses having any possible connection to the incident – and the stable is very likely on the list.  Worse, if the instructor’s relationship to the stable is not clearly documented or understood, a lawyer might assume that the instructor is an agent, employee, or business partner with the stable. 

Avoiding Liability

Stables, in an effort to protect themselves against liability, can consider several options.  Here are some of them:

Insurance

Proper liability insurance is a must for both the stable and the instructor.  The problem is, independent riding instructors sometimes fail to insure themselves, or they assume that the stable’s policy protects them.  Nothing could be farther from the truth; a stable’s coverage might not extend to independent business providers on the property.  And even if it did, the stable’s policy might not be designed, anyhow, to cover riding lessons on the property.  Consequently, if a claim or suit is brought arising from a lesson, the stable and the instructor run a serious risk of having no coverage.

Stables can consider several options:

  • Rather than wait for the independent instructors to buy insurance that could protect everyone, the stables can purchase insurance coverage – if available – for riding lesson activity done on the premises.
  • Stables can require all visiting instructors to show proof of adequate liability insurance with acceptable policy limits.  Stables can also ask to be added to the instructor’s policy as an “additional named insureds.”
  • Stables can decline to allow independent instructors, especially if they have no reasonable assurances that the instructor is protecting the stable.

Since issues involving insurance coverage and additional insured designations can be quite complex, stables should discuss them with their lawyer or insurance agent.

Liability Releases

Stables and instructors have an incentive to require their customers and visitors of legal age to sign well-drafted releases of liability (also called “waivers”), where allowed by law.  The fact that the stable and instructor use their own separate documents can further evidence that they have independent businesses.  Stable management, for their own protection, can have a knowledgeable lawyer draft or approve their contracts and releases.  And, since the stable is relying on the validity and enforceability of the instructor’s release, it can also have its own lawyer evaluate the instructor’s release complies with state requirements.

Equine Liability Act Sign and Contract Requirements, If Any

As of December 2011, 46 states have some form of an equine activity liability act.  All of them differ.  Many of these laws require “equine professionals” and sometimes “equine activity sponsors” to include certain language in their contracts and releases.  Also, the laws often require that the “equine professional” post certain “warning” signs on the premises.  Interestingly, the applicable law might only obligate the instructor to post a warning sign, not the stable.  Make sure to comply with sign posting requirements and contract language requirements, if any apply.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Categories: Insurance, Liability, Regulatory

Photo of Julie I. Fershtman
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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 www.fershtmanlaw.com and www.equinelaw.net, and www.equinelaw.info.

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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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