$1.2 M award in horseback riding fatality in Wyoming

A Wyoming jury has awarded $1.2 million dollars for the death of a woman in a horseback riding accident. Attorney for the family says this will prompt a review of safety standards in the equine industry.

I can see it coming next summer in Wyoming and many other states.

OK all of you horses, you are in class today to review your safety procedures. First no more getting skittish or rearing because you are a dumb animal, and you scare easily. No more trying to knock riders off because they are heavy and have no clue as to what they are doing. No more inhaling as you are being saddled because we are trying to put a strap around your chest to keep you from breathing. No more biting the customers because we stuck a metal bar in your mouth and yank it around to try to control you.
And for heaven’s sake, you have to be dainty. You weigh a half ton, you have to watch where you are going, where you are leaning and quit stepping on the customers you can’t see. Remember they are dumber than you are!

It is sad when a 21-year-old woman died, I do not want to make fun of her death. I am making fun of a jury and a system that says a woman taking horseback riding lessons can sue.

It appears from the article that no release was used and the defense was based solely on the Wyoming Recreation Statute. As I have said before that is a Swiss cheese statute, it has as many holes as it has defenses. Most statutes that purport to protect outdoor recreation providers do more damage than good. Equine statutes are the most infamous. Since equine liability statutes have been enacted, they have been 100% effective. No horse has been sued since the statutes have been passed. However, they have done nothing to stop lawsuits by people injured by horses or riding. It is stupid to rely on any statute to protect you in a lawsuit, always use a release written by an attorney.

It is also funny that the plaintiff’s lawyer is attempting to justify the large award as forcing the equine industry into being safer. It will not happen, if anything it will have the opposite effect. When insurance premiums go up because of this verdict, there will be less time and money to spend on safety.

However, we are talking about horses for heaven’s sake. I grew up with horses; they are beautiful; they are also dumb, unpredictable, flight, skittish, scared and scary! Horses are big and go fast. If you fall off a ladder five foot in the air, you expect to be hurt. If that ladder is traveling at 20 miles per hour, you should expect to be hurt worse.

See Lawyer: $1.2M verdict may boost horse safety

2 Comments on “$1.2 M award in horseback riding fatality in Wyoming”

  1. I'm not sure I fully understand your points so I may be off track here however.

    So it is the governments job to tell people to get an education before riding a horse? I don't think so. The government requires some people to get educated for shooting because of the damage that can be done to other people. The government can step into make rules to protect society, but the government has no business telling me how to to have fun or what risks I should be able to take.

    Please read this post: Jon Heshka and the Right of the Individual to Die Doing What We Love.

    You have to accept responsibility for your actions. If you can't see that climbing up 8' in the air on something that moves is dangerous, a law is not going to make you any smarter? I can see lawsuits when someone misrepresents the dangers of horses but, not horses in general. (We all ready have laws about misrepresentation.)

    As far as the insurance company paying the claims, that is why you buy insurance.

    Who is going to teach the risks of high risk activities? Who is going to anoint themselves the person who can teach.

    I agree with you that the media misrepresents a lot of issues, but that does not relieve you of your duty to learn what you are about to undertake and assume the risks.

    We can't have the government running all aspects of having fun or we won't have fun.


  2. I have been called upon as an expert witness in some equestrian cases. I understand your point that when awards such as this are made, it drives up insurance rates, and thoses of us who work hard to teach safety and to be safe are punished to absorb the cost of awards.
    A real crime is that often, the defendant doesn't have a pot to piss in and the insurance company is on the hook. The defendant has no consequence that helps others be safe and not be killed.
    There needs to be some sort of regulation that protects innocent people who are missinformed by mass media about horses and horse training. Anyone can say they are a horse trainer or a horseback riding instructor. Can anyone claim to teach shooting. There needs to be some sort of regulation or educational standards for high risk recreation; especially when high risk recreation is miss represented by mass media and marketing.
    It is a very difficult problem, morally, ethically, academically and realistically.
    christine amber, gilroy, california


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