• Equine Law Overview

    Equine horse lawEquine law consists of all statutes, ordinances, and regulations that deal with horses, horse riders, and the horse industry. These laws cover all activities dealing with horses, horse health and welfare, equestrian sports, riders and safety of both horses and riders among other things. Typical clients of the equine lawyer could be stables, equestrian show management, horse or stable insurers, individual horse owners, trainers, equestrian-related associations or businesses, and other industry professionals. Because all clients seeking the expertise of equine lawyers are within the equine community, most equine lawyers are active within the horse community. Being a familiar face within the community is generally a sign of a good equine lawyer since that usually means the lawyer has a clear understanding of the industry.Since equine law is not always completely delineated from other areas of law, equine lawyers must also have some expertise with contract law, business law, insurance law, probate law, tort law and complex commercial matters.

    Equine lawyers will handle all matters of equine sale, breeding and management issues. Listed below are a few examples of legislation under the area of equine law. Agricultural protection acts (also called “right to farm” acts) are one type of equine law. These are laws that protect farms, ranches, forests, and other agricultural operations from encroaching urban development. These laws protect ranches and farms that were in existence prior to the conflicting urban use from nuisance suits if the agricultural use is conducted in the usual fashion. Brand laws require registration of brands to avoid duplicate and confusingly similar brands. They also specify where on the horse the brand should be and how sales of branded horses must be regulated (i.e., what paperwork is necessary, system of brand inspections, etc.).

    Cruelty to animals acts also are central to equine law. These laws prohibit cruelty to horses and other animals and empower organizations such as the Humane Society to protect them. Equine activity laws enacted to protect riders, camps, stables, and other horse establishments from frivolous lawsuits that are brought about as a result of an inherent risk of equine activities. There are also laws regarding the regulation of equine infectious anemia. These ordinances require blood tests of every horse in order to test for the virus and then prevent transport and showing of any horse with the virus. If a horse tests positive then the horse must be euthanized or quarantined for the rest of its life. Helmet laws, requiring the wearing of helmets for riding in several states, also fall under equine law.

    Liens for the care of or service to horses are a common legal issue managed by equine lawyers. Liens are rights in property to later receive payment for a debt owed. In this case, the lien is for providing board, training, studding, shoeing, or medical treatment for the horses. The lien laws lay out the rights and duties of both the lien holder and the debtor. Recreational use statutes are designed to encourage landowners to own their properties to the public for recreational purposes like horseback riding for a nominal fee. They also protect the landowner from liability if any accidents occur while the party is on the property for those recreational purposes. There are also statutes dealing with riding horses on public roads (including ditches and shoulders) and rules for motorists when driving past riders such as don’t spook the horses. The Department of Agriculture has the power to quarantine any animal with a communicable disease. They are empowered with the right to search for diseased animals and seize them though they have to give the animal’s owner some portion of the animal’s worth. These quarantine and health laws also require health certificates on any animals being imported.

    Equine law encompasses many different areas of law from contracts to business to torts. Understanding the examples above shows the breadth of situations that the equine law may be asked to handle.
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