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Legal Environment For A Start Up Equestrian Business

1426 words - 6 pages

Starting up a new business in this day in age can be a daunting task. One of the many concerns an entrepreneur faces, is the legal environment in which the new business will operate. In my case we have a fledgling equestrian facility dealing primarily in boarding, but to a lesser extent facilitating a wide range of other equestrian activities. It does not take much imagination to see that riding a one-thousand pound animal in an environment of rock and cactus poses some dangers. The question is how much liability risk is there in an equestrian business for an owner/operator, and how can those risks be mitigated. Arizona law provides some basic guidelines on who assumes the risks in equine activities. One possible service offered by our business will be training. Activities that require professional instruction have legal rules of their own. The case of Morganteen v. Cowboy Adventures demonstrates that instruction can increase businesses chances of being held liable in the event of an incident. Ultimately the risk of injury or death is inherent in participating in equestrian activities. Another aspect of equestrian activity is recreational land use law. A common practice amongst equestrian facilities is allowing outside riders use of the property, an open gate policy so to speak. Recreational land use laws protect land owners from liability when they allow riders access to private land.Arizona law basically states that an owner or agent of a horse is not responsible for a person who has taken control of that animal. Notice that I say “taken control” instead of rider. This is an important distinction that may easily go unnoticed. The difference here is that an owner can still have some influence over the horse while someone else is on top of the horse. Say for instance an owner may be leading the horse around the property with a lead rope while a child sits in the saddle. Control has to be completely in the riders hands. The owner’s influence can become even more subtle. If the owner puts a beginner rider on a horse that is beyond their skill level, then again the rider may not “take control.” As you read through the Arizona statute the business owner may at first be lead to think that the law is on his side. In fact it is not on anyone’s side, it protects as best it can everyone involved. Once that rider has assumed control of the animal, then they are responsible for their actions and the resulting dangers. The principal of Duty of Care still applies. The tack has to be well maintained, the facility have to be as free from dangerous obstruction (as is reasonably possible). If there is a hazardous condition then it falls on the owner to simply notify the rider, “don’t go there.” One way the business owner can shift responsibility to the rider is by having them saddle the horse. By law the person installing the tack takes responsibility for the condition not only of their equipment, but of the horse as...

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