Happy Sunday! I've had a great weekend filled with plenty of horse activities, I hope you did too!
Some of you may have seen this picture of Bella posted on my facebook page:
She stuck her tongue out after I asked her what she thought of dirty, dangerous tack.
I'm just kidding, she was actually patiently munching on treats while I cleaned the dirty tack!
My father had apparently unearthed a molded mess of leather, which was bound for the trash heap, when he decided to wash it up a little. While I conditioned it, I thought of the Equine Activity Liability Acts that I've discussed briefly before on this blog.
The EALAs (for short) are statutes enacted by individual states to help protect horse people from liability when a visitor to a horse facility or a rider is harmed.
You can find the list of states that have EALAs here.
Litigation-heavy California of course is one of 4 states without an EALA; most states have similar statutes, and here is the one in Kentucky:
"The inherent risks of farm animal activities are deemed to be beyond the reasonable control of farm animal activity sponsors, farm animal professionals, or other persons. Therefore, farm animal activity sponsors, farm animal professionals, or other persons are deemed to have the duty to reasonably warn participants in farm animal activities of the inherent risks of the farm animal activities but not the duty to reduce or eliminate the inherent risks of farm animal activities. Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, no participant or representative of a participant who has been reasonably warned of the inherent risks of farm animal activities shall make any claim against, maintain an action against, or recover from a farm animal activity sponsor, a farm animal professional, or any other person for injury, loss, damage, or death of the participant resulting from any of the inherent risks of farm animal activities."
It is a little wordy, but essentially codifies that horse activities are dangerous, and while a horse-person needs to warn about horse dangers, the actual risk need not be eliminated.
In action, this means that if you have a horse that nips fingers, put a clear sign outside his stall warning of that danger, but (in general) you don't have to get rid of the horse. Or, make sure you have a sign posted outside your arena of the dangers of riding, but if a horse spooks and throws a guest, that is a risk you cannot control (again, this is in general, provided the horse was suitable for the rider's skill).
Here is the refurbished bridle I was conditioning:
One of the exceptions to the EALA liability shield is if the horse owner, trainer, professional, etc:
"Provided the equipment or tack, and knew or should have known that the equipment or tack was faulty, and the equipment or tack was faulty to the extent that it contributed to the injury."
So if I had provided a rider with a bridle that I noticed (or should have noticed) had rotten stitching, and then the bridle broke during the ride, and the broken bridle caused the rider to be harmed, then I would not be shielded from liability under an EALA.
Remember: prevention of liability is always better than dealing with an injured horse or rider, so make sure you are in compliance with your state's EALA, such as having signs posted with the required words, in the correct color and size.
Even if you are in a state without an EALA, I would suggest compliance with the EALA requirements because it could help establish a case that an injured rider knowingly assumed the risk of the inherent dangers of riding.
So go inspect your tack this week and make sure it is in tip top shape, I'm happy to report that after some deep conditioning, the bridle pictured here was safe and ready to be used!
*Edit/ Update: I thought I would share with you a typical sign required under an EALA, click here to purchase it from the Kentucky Horse Council.