The Mane Point: a legal blog for smart horses and their people
By Allison J. Farrell of Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC on 06/01/2022
Legal Disputes in the Horse Business: Protecting Yourself from Liability

If you’ve ever been around a horse, you know that they are magical creatures. They seem to have an innate ability to connect to humans on a spiritual level. But the freeing connection to these magical beasts does not mean that the rider is free of risk of injury or that the horse business is free from liability. Protecting yourself from legal disputes in the horse business is critical for maintaining that magic and your viability.

Image of horses in a field, representing how an equine attorney in WV like Allison J. Farrell has the experience and equine background to protect horse lovers from hobbyists to professional farms.

Do You Need to Protect Yourself From Legal Disputes in the Horse Business?

Horseback riding gives you a connection to the wild, free spirit energy of the earth. Native American cultures honor horses as “a brother in the spirit and a link to the supernatural realm.” They are viewed as having healing power and energy. If you are in the horse business, I’m sure you are aware of how powerfully healing caring for and riding horses can be. In fact, many horse businesses are dedicated to providing clients with equine therapy

But horses are sizeable animals, and equine operations necessarily face risks. When your business involves employee and/or client interaction with your horses, injuries can occur. Legal disputes in the horse business can impact your bottom line and the lives of your stock. Taking steps to safeguard your operation and your horses requires careful examination of potential liabilities and implementing steps to safeguard against them.

When Legal Disputes in the Horse Business Arise

Despite that magical connection that horses seem to have with us on some spiritual level, dangers are still present when engaging with these beautiful animals. And, even though a horse business can bring about liability concerns, there are steps that you can take to protect yourself and your horse business from these liabilities.

Managing a business in the equine industry requires caution in a couple of significant areas. One potential concern is legal issues that could arise in the transactions involved in buying or selling a horse in WV. Other issues include personal liability issues that can arise out of injury or damage potentially caused by an animal or some other issue in property management. 
Consulting a knowledgeable equine attorney is the first step to safeguarding your horses and your business. Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC has an equine attorney in WV with extensive experience in mitigating legal disputes in the horse business. 

Considering Potential Legal Disputes of Equine Transactions in WV, PA, and OH

Equine law can be complicated, especially when it comes to the purchase of animals. And, just like any business transaction, purchasing a horse requires execution and exchange of documentation. This can often include documents and contracts such as these:
⦁    Purchase agreement;
⦁    Bill of sale or transfer form;
⦁    Registration papers, if any; and
⦁    Health records.
As a buyer, you’ll want to ensure that you’re receiving a healthy animal that is serviceably sound for your needs. Selling horses poses just as much risk of developing legal disputes in the horse business if any disclosure is overlooked. An experienced equine lawyer can help you vet the horse and prepare, review, and execute the contracts and other documentation to complete your purchase or sale transaction in a way that protects both your business and the horse.

Sources of Risk in the Horse Business 

Though horses can provide a valuable therapy to many people with various health disorders, they can also cause injury or damage. Remember, you’re still dealing with live (and large) animals as well as the possibility of human error. Horses can get spooked, a rider or handler can make a mistake, or some other unknown property or environmental danger may present itself. 

For example, if you operate a stable with client riders or boarders, a horse may suffer injury from mishandling by a rider, misbehavior by another horse, or a known or unknown condition on your property. When the horse injured is a boarder and not one of your own, you could be exposed to significant liability unless you have an enforceable release or waiver executed by the owner.

Similarly, anyone working with horses knows that even the best-trained equines can react unexpectedly, injuring a rider or person nearby. You could be protected if your client riders, visitors, and employees all have executed releases for waivers on file.

Where to Find Help from an Equine Attorney in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, or Ohio

There are steps you can take to protect yourself from these potential injury or damage liabilities. Allison J. Farrell, an equine attorney in WV, OH, and PA, can help identify the right steps based on your needs as you start or grow your horse business. 

An experienced litigator and a horse business owner herself, Allison has helped countless equine industry clients from the Clarksburg office of Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC. Whether putting in place practices and contracts that will prevent or mitigate the losses from legal disputes in the horse business or representing clients if a dispute does occur, she is the blanket under the saddle protecting your horses and your business. To learn more about how Allison can help, call (304) 521-6120 or complete her equine team’s online contact form.