Five Takeaways from the 32nd Annual Equine Law Conference

Equine Liens

First of all what is a lien?

Lien: a charge or encumbrance imposed on specific personal property by which it is made a security for the provision of services.

In plain language, if you own a horse and someone provides a service, such as training, board or feed, that provider can place a lien on your horse if you don’t pay your bills. Each state has its own law as to how to “perfect” a so-called agricultural lien. Some require formal notice, others do not. Each state also has unique requirements as to procedure and timing. If you are a trainer or barn owner, and you have a non-paying customer, consult an attorney so that you can make the best choice as to how to proceed, whether by judicial sale of the horse or by going to small claims court.

Equine Helmet Laws

Riding of any kind ranks third in the number of concussions sustained by adults. Surprisingly only two states, New York and Florida, have an equestrian helmet law on the books. Both statutes apply to minors. Some individual cities have enacted their own helmet laws. While lawmakers have been reluctant or slow to move on the subject, awareness in the equestrian industry is on the rise. Accidents and recovery stories such as that of Courtney King Dye are bringing attention to the matter, along with NFL concussion litigation. In 2013, the FEI (Federation Equestre International) passed a rule which requires riders to wear of properly fastened helmets while riding on competition grounds. However, each individual discipline has its own rules as to where and whether helmets are required. 


Training, Boarding Stables and Owner Conflicts

Disagreements between stables and horse owners are common. Many can be avoided by communicating up front, before the horse walks in the door. Some of the issues that might come up:

  • Stable release provisions releasing human bodily injury
  • Release of claims involving the horse
  • Pre-arrival equine health inquiries
  • Payment arrangements
  • Stable Rules
  • Ongoing health and care of horses
  • Termination of contract
  • Side charges

Whether you are a trainer, barn owner, or boarder, read the boarding contract and consult with an equine attorney.

Veteranary Drug Compounding

What exactly is compounding? Compounding is changing a drug in any way. This could be as simple as flavoring so your horse will eat his medications, to combining medications into one delivery method. 
Many remember the case of 21 polo ponies who died after they were injected with a compound which contained too much selenium (the compounder, Franck’s Pharmacy of Ocala, mistakenly moved a decimal point). The horse owners sued and just last year, a jury awarded them 2.5 million dollars. 
There are many negatives associated with compounded drugs including questionable raw materials, a possible positive drug test, loss of efficacy. For the veterinarian, there could be potential liability if something goes wrong and malpractice insurance may not provide coverage. 

The Drones Are Coming!

Drones are being used more and more for commercial purposes, including equine activities. Drones are proving beneficial in the management of equestrian properties, monitoring equine assets, and for filming or photographing equine events. The FAA established rules for drones in 2016 , which require that drones be registered, and that commercial operators have a remote pilot certificate. The rules also prohibit operation over persons not directly involved in flight operation unless under a covered structure. This rule severely limits their use to photograph or film equestrian events. Operators can obtain a waiver if they can demonstrate the operation is safe. It is highly recommended that any property owner or event operator develop their own rules and regulations for drones and make sure drone operators have proper insurance. Consult with an experienced equine attorney.