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Re: [RC] Need advice on equine liability and kids (sorry, long!) - marybenstover

It is the "horse gene."  What I do (and bear in mind that I live in litigious California and have spent my whole adult life working for personal injury trial lawyers) is I have a release signed and hope for the best.  I also have insurance so I am not totally stupid.  When I take kids to rides with me, they have their insurance information with them and I have a signed release allowing me to get them medical treatment. 


I know it is not maybe the best or safest course but where would Heather Reynolds be if I had not taken a chance and taken her endurance riding when she was 11 years old?  She might even be a "dressage queen."  Eeewww. 


Think about how you felt when you were a kid and would have paid someone to let you pet and/or brush their horse.  I was lucky in that my parents did not have the horse crazy gene but they recognized it in me and gave me riding lessons they could ill afford..........................mb




----- Original Message -----
From: "Kristi Schaaf" <iluvdez@xxxxxxxxx>
To: ridecamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Sent: Tuesday, March 3, 2009 11:40:20 AM GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific
Subject: [RC] Need advice on equine liability and kids (sorry, long!)

Hey all -
I am childless by choice but I find kids amusing and often quite fascinating on a one-on-one basis. Well, my next door neighbor's new girlfriend has a 10 yoa daughter (Chelsea) and the other day I noticed her standing at the fence feeding my horses grass she had pulled out of the ditch. I walked over and introduced myself and quickly discovered that Chelsea is horse crazy. My instinct says it's not the type of horse crazy that many 10 year old girls have where they love horses until they discover boys, but that it's TRUE horse crazy - the kind that you are born with in your blood that never ever goes away. When I told her that I have been crazy about horses my whole life, she sighed and said "it's SO nice to finally meet someone who understands how I feel". Anyway, after I gave her the whole lecture about how she had better NEVER EVER go inside the fence, one soulful look from her had me letting her tag along while I fed my three horses. For safety, I told her about how horses are prey animals that run first and think later, and I showed her how to use her body language to move a horse, where to position herself when around them etc etc and I then put her to work brushing them as they ate their hay. She showed me that she had been paying attention because she windmilled her arms and made herself 'bigger' when the horses spooked at some noise in the woods and bolted across the dry lot, probably saving herself from being trampled as one horse just barely swerved around her (dang Arabs).
But, this incident gave me pause for thought. Her Mom is aware that she goes in the dry lot with me, but what happens if she gets hurt? Is there anything I can do to protect myself from legal issues if, God forbid, something happens? And of course she is begging me to let her ride a horse but no-way no-how can I go there unless I understand more about liability and what it entails (but I do salivate at the thought of having someone to ride our third horse, maybe even someday join me at an endurance ride).
So, what do you do when you want to take pity on a horseless child who yearns to live and breathe horses and who shows up at your doorstep? Even though it's been three decades since I've been in Chelsea's shoes, I still clearly remember that almost physically painful desire to be near horses, so I have a soft spot in my heart for her. I'd love to let her interact with my horse and learn more about how to care for and interact with them. And who knows, maybe someday she will find herself looking into the pleading eyes of a 10 yoa horse crazy girl and will do what she can for her.  

Any advice, warnings, legal knowledge anyone can share? I have a million dollar umbrella policy in case my horses hurt anyone, but I hope and pray I never find a need for it. And, what else can I do to protect myself?
Kristi in Iowa       

[RC] Need advice on equine liability and kids (sorry, long!), Kristi Schaaf