Horse riding is a popular pastime. However, care must be taken when riding and it is important to bear in mind that suddenly and without warning, even the best behaved of horses can spook or shy.
- What can 'spook' a horse?
Any horse can be spooked by an unexpected and sudden noise such as a vehicle passing by without warning or too quickly, or by the unexpected noise of road works or a beeping horn.
Horses can also be unpredictable if they are unwell or if they are on medication.
It goes without saying that horses are large animals and can cause injury to themselves, their riders and others if startled.
- Examples of accidents we have encountered
- A rider being thrown from a horse due to another road users’ conduct
- A rider being thrown from a horse due to a loud unexpected noise and / or action
- A driver being hurt when trying to avoid a horse who escaped from a badly fenced field
- A spectator at a poorly planned event being injured by a horse
- Being injured by a horse in the course of your employment
- A rider thrown from a horse during a badly planned riding lesson or hack
- How can accidents be avoided?
Whilst much responsibility falls on a driver, for example, to allow the horse sufficient room when passing and by driving slowly and quietly so as not to startle the horse, the rider can also be considered negligent if they were riding a horse which was known to be of a character which could be a danger to other road users.
Anyone working with or around horses should act reasonably and responsibly and should not antagonise the horse.
Accidents can also take place within riding centres and in this instance, the riding centre will be responsible for the users of the centre and will be under a duty to select an appropriate horse or pony for each rider. In addition all equipment used or rented must be a good quality and suitable for use.
- Can you make a claim?
It is possible to bring a claim for injuries caused by or involving horses under the common law of negligence or alternatively under a statutory duty under the Animals Act 1971. The Act imposes liability on the owner or keeper of the horse if they are aware that the horse has potentially dangerous characteristics which are not seen in every horse.
If you have been injured by a horse and think you may have a claim or would like some advice, contact us for a no obligation, free of charge consultation.