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Marissa Raymo will discuss everything about horses, including horse health care tips, training tips, equestrian friendly trails, horse buying info and much more.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lesson of the Day: Don't Drink & Ride

In light of the upcoming May 11th hearing for Beattie v Mickalich, I'd like to touch on the topic of equine liability. In this particular case, the exact details of the event seem to vary from witness to witness (big surprise!), but here is a broad summary of the highlights:
  • Beattie is injured after she falls to the ground when her neighbor's (Mickalich) horse spooks and rears.
  • Beattie is suing Mickalich for her injury, alleging that this is an exception to the limitations on liability provided by the EALA based on Mickalich's "negligence".
  • According to the Amicus Curiae Brief of Michigan Horse Council, Beattie was not only a previous horse owner herself (proof that she should have been aware of the inherent risks associated with horses), but had also ridden several of Mickalich's horses in the past. Beattie also admitted to having had a "couple" beers before going to Mickalich's house.
It seems the arguments in this case rely upon the interpretation of the Michigan Equine Activity Liability Act  and....the use of crossties??  

Beattie and her supporters argue that it was Mickalich's responsibility to properly secure his horse with crossties and his failure to do so ("negligence") makes Mickalich liable for her injury. 

While scanning through the court materials, I got a little giggle out of each mention of "cross-ties", and here is why I have such a problem with this:
  1. As a previous horse owner, Beattie should have been aware of the "inherent risks" of any equine activity, and if she really believed that the horse should have been cross-tied, then she shouldn't have accepted the lead rope in the first place or at least voiced her concerns at that point.
  2. Cross-ties are not the ultimate answer here. In fact, many horses will have a stronger reaction with the cross ties than being held by a simple lead rope. When a horse that is cross-tied spooks and pulls back, the cross-ties pull back at the horse, causing the natural flight reaction (see above image of a cross-tied horse from to go into effect
  3. Cross-ties cannot prevent many of the other horse-related risks, such as biting or kicking. Must we now tie down, muzzle, hobble and sedate our horses every time a visitor wants to approach? Just as with sex and alcohol, there is only one way to ensure your safety around these powerful and sometimes unpredictable animals - ABSTINENCE!

What do you think?  

Should a person be held responsible for an injury that another incurs while interacting with their horses?
 Cowboy Logic of the Day 
"There's more ways to skin a cat than stickin' his head in a boot jack and jerkin' on his tail."

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