For decades, my articles have addressed cautions and restrictions for stables to consider when roving riding instructors ask to do business there. What if you are the independent professional, however, without a home base and who seeks to provide horse training or riding lessons at other peoples’ stables? If a stable disallows your activities there, here are a few discussion points for roving instructors and professionals to consider as you try to encourage stables to reconsider and allow you to do business there. Keep in mind that stable managers and owners differ widely on these matters.
When independent equine professionals seek to do business at others’ stables, liability is by far the stables biggest concern. The sad reality is that lawyers representing injured people have been known to direct their claims or suits against all people or businesses having any connection to the horse, the land, or the activity. While it is not always easy to predict who will win or lose a case, one guarantee is that the cost of a legal defense can be tremendous.
Since liability is the major concern of stable owners and managers when outside professionals seek to do business there, roving professionals might make sincere efforts to address those concerns. Here are a few options:
• Liability Releases. Nationwide, judges in most states have enforced releases of liability (also called “waivers”) when they believe the documents were properly drafted, presented and signed. Both equine professionals and stable owners can require everyone of legal age to sign their own separate liability releases (where allowed by law). Equine professionals can show stables their waivers/release document forms, allowing the stable’s attorney to approve them, with the documents including the stable in the section where the signer agrees not to sue certain persons or entities.
• Liability Insurance. Liability waivers/releases are not a substitute for liability insurance since people who sign these documents can, and sometimes do, file lawsuits. Whether the document will successfully cause a lawsuit to be dismissed depends on the facts and law of a particular matter. Where liability insurance is involved, the parties should be aware of a few things:
First, the stable’s liability insurance policy might not cover activities of roving equine professionals. That is, if the stable does not provide training or lessons, chances are possible that it sought no insurance coverage for these activities. As a result, the stable’s policy might not protect it when claims or suits arise from the roving professional’s activities.