Barn Fire Roundup


(If you click the image, it should be animated!)

The Kentucky bar exam is just around the corner, so unfortunately I don't have the time to write new blog posts for us- but I will be back soon!  In the meantime, please find below a round-up of equine posts about Barn Fires from around the web:

The story of Neville the horse, fire survivor and potential Olympian: "The horses’ straw beds were ablaze, with the rest of the barn, when two men rushed in against the flames and black smoke to try to save the 11 horses inside."

Julie Fershtman's blog post regarding boarding stable liability when horses die in a barn fire (discusses the issue of the barn owner's negligence, such as faulty wiring or storing flammables in the barn).

Rachel McCart's blog post regarding insurance coverage, such as against the risk of a barn fire.

Alison Rowe's blog post, "Horse Insurance 101," includes information about insuring against accidental death of horses (such as by fire).

A recent story: 9 horses died in a Pennsylvania barn fire.  The barn owner's insurance will cover the loss- but as the owner reveals- insurance isn't really enough to cover all costs (or emotional loss).

The story of Maplewood Stables in Reno, NV- fortunately they had an evacuation in place for the 80 horses on the property!

As a Californian I have seen the ravage of many fires- and the chaos that ensues as flames approach.  I have had two close calls with wildfires and our horses, fortunately we have created a plan when evacuation for the horses is not an option, and it gives me such a great sense of relief to know that while we can't control the uncontrollable, we can certainly limit the risk of loss and actual loss (which is actually a parallel purpose to legal contracts!)

These last few rainy months are the best time to make your plans for the upcoming hot and dry season (and considering our minimal rain/ snow fall in California, it will likely be a very dry and fire-risky summer!)

Welfare Water Watch: Diving Horses

The blog Dappled Grey shared a news article regarding the re-opening of a horse diving act in Atlantic City.  The last horse diving was in 1993, but the height of its popularity was in the late 19th and early 20th century.
On several occasions in elementary school a substitute teacher would play the movie of Sonora Webster Carver, the girl who suffered detached retinas in a horse diving accident, yet continued to dive blind for some time after.  I'm sure many of you have also seen the movie.  The movie was so deeply imprinted on my young self, that any thought or images of diving horses gives me shudders, and I imagine I'm not the only one.

Source, with relevant horse-diving information

Some people claim that requiring horses to dive is an egregious assault on animal welfare.
Others claim that the horses love to jump and the occurrence of injury in either horse or rider is minimal.

Relevant to the Atlantic City actions to revive the entertainment, New Jersey's welfare statute states:

"A person who shall purposely, knowingly, or recklessly:
(1) Torment, torture, maim, hang, poison, unnecessarily or cruelly beat, or needlessly mutilate a living animal or creature; or
(2) Cause or procure , by any direct or indirect means, including but not limited to through the use of another living animal or creature, any such acts to be done--
Shall be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.
If the animal or creature is cruelly killed or dies as a result of a violation of this subsection, or the person has a prior conviction for a violation of this subsection, the person shall be guilty of a crime of the third degree."

So who is right?  Is instructing a horse to jump into a tank of water purposefully torture?
It is hard to imagine the impact onto water from 60 feet up is painless for a horse, but the participants claim that the horses are well taken care of, are loved, and enjoy their job- what would make horse diving any different than other intense equine sports like X-Country or polo?



I don't have enough knowledge to know who is right in this argument, but we can be certain the debate will swirl over the proposed amusement to the Steel Pier!

If you happened to be in the area, could your nerves handle watching a horse diving show?

Happy February!

This first day of February happens to be my birthday, and I think birthdays mean allowing yourself a little frivolity and celebration.  On that note, I'm sharing some fun horse video clips by which I was endlessly entertained:

Skiing and Riding, two of my favorite sports, combined into one!


And because I really do think equine law is fun, and thus permitted as part of my birthday celebration, here is a legal concept for your enjoyment:

A builder contracted to build a new barn for a hunter/jumper trainer.  The terms of the contract provided that the builder would receive the full contract price upon completion of the barn.  Just when the builder had completed one-half of the structure, a natural disaster struck the area (flood, earthquake, tornado, hurricane, etc.) and demolished the building.

What is the builder entitled to financially recover from the hunter/jumper trainer under the contract?
a) Nothing
b) One-half of the contract price
c) One-half of the fair market value of what remains of the barn
d) Cost of materials and reasonable labor costs

{Take a guess! Answer will be below the next irrelevant, but fun, clip}

A cow that thinks he is a cutting horse:


The answer is............ A!  The builder cannot recover anything from the trainer because under the agreed upon contract, he has not fulfilled his duty;  under the contract, the builder's completion of the barn was a condition precedent to the trainer's duty to pay.  The condition precedent was not discharged by the natural disaster because construction of the barn hasn't become impossible, just more costly, and the builder can still rebuild the barn.

It seems a little unfair, doesn't it?  Which is why most builders/ architects will have their lawyers structure their building contracts differently, to spread out the risk of loss or of liability between the parties.

And one final funny horse video for you... Karen O'Connor shows us what kind of willpower is required to become one of the greatest U.S. riders (note: in eventing, if any part of your person touches the ground, you are disqualified from the event)


Happy long-February (it is a leap year!), and any guesses if the groundhog will see his shadow tomorrow?!