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 5 Tips to Avoid a Lawsuit for the Horse Stable Owner
Oak Springs Insurance Group LLc.

Prepared by Janet Spingath Agent, Oak Springs Insurance Group, LLC.

Lawsuits arise when someone or someone’s horse is injured and they believe you contributed somehow to that injury. To avoid a lawsuit, you can't be negligent. If you are accused of negligence, you need to help your attorney defend you.

Tip One
Make safety rules; then post your safety rules and get them into everyone's hands. Post a copy of the Inherent Risk Law for your state (you can find this online). If you have a barn, trail rides, instruction, training, therapy....whatever commercial operation you run that involves people and horses, inform them of the risks involved. Many people are unaware that typical horse behavior involves kicking, biting and stamping hooves. If you make efforts to inform them through signs you post and papers you hand to them, you will make it more difficult for someone to prove you negligent.

Tip Two
Get good waiver forms, designed by attorneys who know equine risk laws, and have them signed. There are qualified forms available on the Internet for a reasonable fee. Make sure your forms apply to the people who sign them, such as your guests who borrow your horse or your clients who are riding their own horses at your facility. Give a copy to
the person who signs and keep your copies on file for 5 years. If someone signs a form it shows a judge that they were informed of the risk and agreed to take it anyway. It's one more tool your attorney will need to defend your position.

Tip Three
Require your clients who board at your facility, have you train their horses or instruct them on their own horses to carry mortality and major medical/surgical insurance.  Anything can happen…a horse could colic and incur thousands of dollars of medical expenses or worse yet, he could die on your property.  If your client has their horse insured it reduces the risk of any potential lawsuits that could occur if your client felt you were negligent in their horse’s loss.

Tip Four
Keep working to improve your safety practices. Inspect tack regularly and have it professionally repaired if needed. Supply approved riding helmets in an area where all can have access to them. Require boots with heels for riding. Use break-away snaps on cross-ties and other hitching areas. Don't allow loose dogs in the barn. Make sure everyone handles lead ropes safely. Make a safety manual that describes how to handle horses safely. Have safety meetings. Check girth tightness during lessons. Post “No Smoking” signs. Keep hay ventilated. Keep gates shut. Check your fences. Take halters off when horses are in pasture. Check the floor boards of your trailer for sturdiness. Only hire independent trainers and instructors who have good horse handling skills and are insured. Your list of ways to improve safety is endless, keep adding to it!

Tip Five
It has been proven that people are much less likely to sue people they like, even if the other person was negligent. Your best protection against unwanted lawsuits may be as simple as cultivating good relationships with your clients. The horse world is famous for barn drama, so learn to navigate wisely through potential emotionally explosive situations. Show respect to everyone through kindness and goodwill. Become more diplomatic and be careful what you say about your clients. A professional attitude combined with genuine friendliness can put everyone at ease when they do business with you. This will allow you to have the freedom to pursue your passion for working with horses and build you a good reputation to boot!  Ride Safe!

Contact: Janet Spingath, Oak Springs Insurance Group
P.O. Box 5945
Salem, Oregon 97304
Phone: 503-363-1975
Email: renae@oakspringsinsurance.com
Website: oakspringsinsurance.com

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