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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

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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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"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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