An tragic case was before the California Appellate Court recently. A farrier was trimming a horse in a rocky corral when the horse knocked him down, and he struck his head on a rock. The farrier died of his injuries, and his widow brought a wrongful death case against the owner of the horse
. The court dismissed the case, and stated the farrier was responsible for the horse (and situation), once the owner had “relinquished care and control” to him.
This is an important case for all equine professionals, and the ramifications are worth considering.
As a boarding and training barn owner, I carried a “Care, Custody and Control” policy, which covered me in case of an issue with a horse under my care – but if I had been injured or killed by a horse under my care – it was my own responsibility, not that of the owner, as I had assumed control of the horse, as a professional.
We all post those state liability signs outside our barns and carry the appropriate insurance to cover ourselves in the case of a lawsuit, yet many of us fail to carry disability insurance or sufficient life insurance – there are always other places for the money to go.
But, for a moment today, I urge you to consider the consequences of our livelihoods. We can’t always control the situation, we get that – we’re horse people. We’ve been doing this forever, and we know that horses are creatures of flight and sometimes we’re in the flight path. It’s what we accept because it’s what we were born to do.
But I encourage you to consider reviewing your life and disability insurance policies. Sit down with your numbers and give a hard look at what would happen to your family and your business if you were out of commission for a month, or a year, or forever. It’s sobering, but it needs to be looked at. Not next year, not when you get one more training client and you can afford it.
Look at it now and try to find a way.