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Jill Headford

Posted 30 May 2013
by Jill Headford

Another claim from an injured rider fails in court

Horse & Hound has reported another failed court case against an equestrian employer.  Ms Kublin was employed as a groom at Jane Allison Equestrian Ltd and had been there only 10 days when she took a nasty fall from a three year old horse.  She sued her employer for negligence but the Judge at Bicester County Court decided that she had voluntarily assumed the risk that the horse might spook or spin – which Ollie the cob duly did – and dismissed her claim. The prevailing legal view is that a rider accepts a significant degree of risk when getting on a horse and therefore cannot sue the owner or keeper if they get hurt.  It seems that once the rider accepts some risk that the horse might behave unpredictably and that they may fall off, it makes no difference that the behaviour of the horse was in fact much more extreme than they expected.

Does this mean that employers and owners will never be liable?  Not really – each case will be judged on its own unique facts.  An employee in a breaking yard riding out on a three year old horse, presumably recently backed, is bound to be taken to have understood the risk involved.  At the other end of the scale, a work-experience pupil in a riding school who is over-horsed and comes a cropper might fare rather better in court.

The only motto here is that an owner (especially an employer as in this case) should always take reasonable care and do what they can to minimise the risks to riders and that riders should take note that when horses are involved, however well-disposed they are towards their riders, accidents (and injuries) happen.

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About the author

Jill Headford

Jill Headford

Partner and Solicitor

A partner in the firm since 1994 and an experienced Court and Tribunal advocate, Jill specialises in resolving disputes and is a member of the Property Litigation Association