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DEAR DANA: What types of precautions should we take as far as liability when we have a horse for sale and invite a stranger to come try her out? It just seems like a recipe for potential problems.
–Caroline, La Jolla, Calif.

DEAR CAROLINE: What a great question you have asked, and you are so right — it is an open door for a potential problem. I want to emphasize that I am not an attorney or an expert in insurance, but I can tell you what I do when I have potential buyers come to look for a horse and hopefully this will help you to protect yourself.

First, you want to check your homeowner’s insurance policy. Typically, these do not cover horse-related activities, but some do. If yours does not, you will want to purchase a “Personal Horse Owners Policy.” This will cover you if your horse injures someone. Keep in mind that if your horse operation is a business, this will not cover you. Check into this before you purchase, as even a part-time vendor could be considered a business. Also make sure that the policy allows someone other than you and your immediate family to be covered if there is an injury. Then, whenever someone comes to your property to ride, you will need to have them sign a release of liability. You can either purchase these or download them from the internet. Make sure that your Release of Liability is compliant with your state laws, as each state is different.

Next, it is important to get to know the person. When I have a potential buyer come to look at a horse, I really quiz them. I try to determine if they are a serious buyer and if they really intend to come try out my horse. Once we set a date, I will do a check-up call to confirm that they are still coming and ask them to let me know in advance if they intend to cancel. Before you even let them ride, make sure that you feel the rider is suited for the horse.

Last but not least, you have to know your horse. How well-trained is your horse? How safe is he? Is he safe for a beginner rider? These are questions that you want to ask yourself before putting someone that you don’t know on his back. Remember, you don’t have to let them do anything that you are not comfortable with them doing!

I hope that helps! Good luck to you.


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