The general purpose of Utah’s Equine Liability Act is to protect horse professionals from liability when someone is hurt or killed by horse activities. The basic premise of the law is that horse activities are inherently risky and anyone engaging in those activities accepts those risks. One of the exceptions to this protection is failing to appropriately match a rider and horse. The specific language from the Utah Equine Liability Act states that an equine professional is not liable unless he or she “failed to make reasonable efforts to determine whether the equine or livestock could behave in a manner consistent with the activity with the participant.”
Horse professionals should gather information about participants to determine if they are an appropriate match for a particular horse and a particular activity. It would be best if this information was in a written form. Gathering this information could be combined with a written waiver of liability. For some reason, a lot of people tend to exaggerate their expertise and experience with horses. For this reason, horse professionals should not completely rely on information provided by participants, but should conduct some kind of assessment of the participants’ skills. For example, a participant could be assessed to see if they can steer and stop a horse before beginning a trial ride.
Most states have something like Utah’s Equine Liability Act and in at least one other state a court found that horse professionals have a continuing duty to assess a participant’s ability to safely manage a horse, even as the activity continued.
Please call us at (801) 820-7488 if you have any questions about Utah’s Equine Liability Act.