First by Gail Wilder
The Equine Activity Liability
Laws or Equine Activities Statutes
1.What are they?
2.What do they mean?
they affect me?
1.What are they?
states, (44), have enacted some type of equine liability law
that somewhat limits the liability of persons involved in the
horse industry, identified as an “equine activity sponsor or
do they mean?
the laws state that all horse related activities have inherent
risks, and while a farm owner or activity sponsor has a
responsibility to warn participants of the inherent risks, the
owner or sponsor is generally not responsible for eliminating
the inherent risks. The participant must assume many of the
inherent risks associated with the activity. Liability still
exists, however, as none of these laws is a zero liability law.
Every state has their own version and they are all different.
they affect me?
you must be familiar with Montana’s Statues, but if you ever
do business in an adjoining state, have a copy of theirs as
well. Do you show in WA, ID, WY, or Canada? Do you teach,
clinic, train or haul out of state? Knowing the statutes where
you are could save you from an unpleasant lawsuit, or at least
help you decide how to conduct, or whether to go ahead with your
activity. It is in your best interest to have and post a copy of
the Equine Liability Law, understand how the law operates, and
what it requires you to do.
You can still be sued if the injured party
claims the injury was not caused by an inherent risk.
Examples would include:
sponsor or professional provided faulty tack that caused the
injury or failed to inspect it or properly maintain the
sponsor or professional failed to make reasonable and
prudent efforts to determine the ability of the participant
to safely engage in the equine activity. In other words,
don’t take the participant’s word for what their riding
level is. You must give them a skills test before you engage
in the lesson, trail ride or whatever you are about to do.
equine sponsor or equine professional owned, leased, rented,
or otherwise was in lawful possession and control of the
land or facilities on which the participant sustained
injuries caused by a latent condition that was known or should
have been known to the sponsor or professional.
is the Montana Equine Activity Statute in its entirety:
27-1-725. Purpose. The
purpose of 27-1-725 through 27-1-727 is to assist courts and
juries in defining the circumstances under which persons
responsible for equines may be found liable for damages to
persons harmed in the course of equine activities. It is the
policy of the state of Montana that a person is not liable for
damages sustained by another solely as a result of risks
inherent in equine activities if those risks are or should be
reasonably obvious, expected, or necessary to persons engaged in
equine activities. It is the policy of the state of Montana that
an equine activity sponsor or equine professional who is
negligent and causes foreseeable injury to a participant bears
responsibility for that injury in accordance with other
En. Sec. 1, Ch. 119, L. 1993.
27-1-726. Definitions. As
used in 27-1-725 through 27-1-727, the following definitions
(1) "Engage in an equine
activity" means to ride, train, drive, or be a passenger
upon an equine, whether mounted or unmounted, or to assist a
participant, equine activity sponsor, or equine professional.
The phrase does not mean activity by a spectator at an equine
activity, unless the spectator is improperly in an unauthorized
area in immediate proximity to an equine activity.
(2) "Equine" means a
horse, pony, mule, donkey, or hinny.
(3) "Equine activity"
(a) equine shows, fairs,
competitions, performances, or parades that involve any breed of
equines and any of the equine disciplines, including but not
limited to dressage, hunter and jumper horse shows, grand prix
jumping, 3-day events, combined training, rodeos, driving,
pulling, cutting, polo, steeplechasing, endurance trail riding
and western games, and hunting;
(b) equine training or teaching
(c) boarding equines;
(d) riding, inspecting, grooming,
or evaluating an equine belonging to another, whether or not the
owner has received monetary consideration or another thing of
value for the use of the equine or permits a prospective
purchaser of the equine to ride, inspect, groom, or evaluate the
(e) rides, trips, hunts, pack
trips, or other equine activities of any type, however informal,
that are sponsored by an equine activity sponsor; and
(f) providing veterinarian or
(4) "Equine activity
sponsor" means an individual, group, club, partnership,
corporation, or other entity, whether operating for profit or
nonprofit, that sponsors, organizes, or provides the facilities
for an equine activity. The phrase includes but is not limited
to pony clubs; 4-H clubs; hunt clubs; riding clubs; riding
classes and programs; therapeutic riding programs; operators,
instructors, and promoters of equine facilities; stables;
clubhouses; pony ride strings; farms; ranches; and arenas.
professional" means a person engaged for compensation in:
(a) instructing a participant or
renting to a participant an equine for the purpose of riding,
driving, or being a passenger upon the equine;
(b) selling or renting equipment
or tack to a participant; or
(c) providing veterinary or
(6) "Participant" means
a person, whether amateur or professional, who directly engages
in an equine activity, whether or not a fee is paid to
participate in the equine activity.
(7) "Risks inherent in equine
activities" means dangers or conditions that are an
integral part of equine activities, including but not limited
(a) the propensity of an equine to
behave in ways that may result in injury or harm to or the death
of persons on or around the equine;
(b) the unpredictability of an
equine's reaction to such things as medication; sounds; sudden
movement; and unfamiliar objects, persons, or other animals;
(c) hazards, such as surface and
subsurface ground conditions;
(d) collisions with other equines
or objects; or
(e) the potential of another
participant to not maintain control over the equine or to not
act within the person's ability.
En. Sec. 2, Ch. 119, L. 1993.
27-1-727. Equine activity
liability limitations. (1) Except as provided in subsections
(2) and (3), an equine activity sponsor or an equine
professional is not liable for an injury to or the death of a
participant engaged in an equine activity resulting from risks
inherent in equine activities.
(2) An equine participant shall
act in a safe and responsible manner at all times to avoid
injury to the participant and others and to be aware of risks
inherent in equine activities.
(3) Subsection (1) does not apply:
(a) if the equine activity sponsor
or the equine professional:
(i) provided the equipment or tack
and the equipment or tack caused the injury because the equine
activity sponsor or equine professional failed to reasonably and
prudently inspect or maintain the equipment;
(ii) provided the equine and
failed to make reasonable and prudent efforts to determine the
ability of the participant to safely engage in the equine
activity and the participant's ability to safely manage the
particular equine based on the participant's representations as
to the participant's ability;
(iii) owned, leased, rented, or
otherwise was in lawful possession and control of the land or
facilities upon which the participant sustained injuries caused
by a dangerous latent condition that was known or should have
been known to the equine activity sponsor or the equine
(iv) committed an act or omission
that constituted willful or wanton disregard for the safety of
the participant and the act or omission caused the injury; or
(v) intentionally injured the
(b) in a products liability
En. Sec. 3, Ch. 119, L. 1993.
27-1-728. Mule and horseracing -- exception. Sections
27-1-725 through 27-1-727 do not apply to the horseracing and
mule racing industry as regulated in Title 23, chapter 4.
En. Sec. 4, Ch. 119, L. 1993.