The Importance of Public Liability Insurance for Livery Yards

OWLIE185

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Injured girl wins £2.1m compensation

H&H staff writer

21 September, 2006

Hard hats could become compulsory when handling horses at riding schools and livery yards following a record level of compensation being awarded by the High Court

A £2.1million compensation settlement against a Lincolnshire riding centre after a 13-year-old girl was kicked in the head while bringing her pony in from a field has sent shockwaves through the horse world.

The award is believed to set a record for a claim against a British riding school or livery yard.

"It's a wake-up call to the industry, particularly for livery yards," said South Essex Insurance Brokers (SEIB) managing director Barry Fehler. "A lot of people only ask for £1m cover — now they ought to think of at least £2m."

The accident happened in April 1996, leaving Katie Witcombe, now 22, with serious head injuries and requiring 24hr care. Her pony, Lady, was kept at livery at the Fourwinds Equestrian Centre in West Pinchbeck, near Spalding. Fourwinds is approved by both the British Horse Society (BHS) and Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS).


Katie was leading Lady out of the field when other horses galloped up, surrounding her, and one kicked out, striking her head.

The payout was agreed last Friday (15 September) by the equestrian centre's insurer (Commercial and General Union, since taken over by Norwich Union) at London's High Court on the basis of 70% liability.

SEIB associate director David Buckton said it could now become standard for riding schools and livery yards to ensure people wear hats at all times "if they're going to handle horses".

"This case is going to have enormous implications," he added. "Yard owners are going to have to look very carefully at where they permit young people. And, when they do risk assessments, getting a pony out of a paddock will have to be part of it."

Mr Buckton added that livery yards might soon have to take out compulsory public liability insurance, as riding schools do, after the government gave a green light to future licensing of livery yards.

Read this news story in full in today's Horse & Hound (21 September, '06)
 

burtie

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We discussed this on latest new I think. At the time it was not clear if she was helping at a riding school and was unsupervised or just doing her own horse. This article seems to make it clear she was just doing her own horse. I have no problems with the amount, caring for someone with these injuries is not cheap but I still don't see how or why the yard owner was found in anyway "negligable" and therefor liable?

The knock on effects for livery yards is enormous, surely we should all just have our own accident policy and expect to claim of this when something like this happens?
 

matthew

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I think this is absolutly sickning-we now live in a country were nobady takes responability for themselves! People need to realise that if you spend time with horses you run the risk of getting injured-ffs how is the the liverys fault!
 

smokeybabes

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So what do livery yards have to have small individual paddocks for horses now then so there's no risk of being kicked by another horse? Trouble is then you'd have owners moaning their horse was lonely!
 

Vey

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Not moaning the horse was lonely - rather all the horses actually living in a totally unnatural state. I think this is a daft ruling - We do have to learn to take responsibility for ourselves. Rotton luck for the girl, but not the yard's fault.
 

JessPickle

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And now that yard is probably going to end up closing down, I'm sure it cant survive after all of this! I just think people should insure themselves, also should realise the risk horse riding is our yard make all liveries sign a contract saying they know the risks and that they have personal insurance. The modern thing to do doesnt seem to be ever take responsibilty more pass the blame
 

allijudd

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i do think that this is awful...the poor giirl but isnt it her own fualt...you take a risk with horses...and she took a risk..if she is not employed ...how is it the liverys fault?
 

dieseldog

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We had Public Liability Insurance when we ran our yard, there have been a lot of cases recently which have gone against livery yard owners where you would be a fool not to have any.

I think my favorite is the owner who decided to lead their own horse around the roads in a headcollar, it escapes, causes damage and the livery yard owner is liable - HOW?????
 

airedale

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everyone that gets on a horse at my place HAS to have Rider Insurance - even if it's their own horse - if it's a share/loan - I want to see the cert.

I've already got a H&S policy that lists things like not riding in shorts; no-one can jump anything unless there is an adult present on site; no riding without hat

etc

all clearly stated - and I enforce it !!!!!!

I'll be adding to that from this weekend that on arrival at the stables the first move is to the tack room and compulsory wearing of hard hat to correct spec. with chinstrap done up at all times - even if it's 90 deg plus heat

now - do I add that toe-tector footwear must be worn at all times, plus a body protector for grooming - after all a mare in season might kick !!

........then do I add 'cricket' style shin pads

..................and what about face guards as used in Polo ?????

or should I merely just have the horses at livery and deny the owners access altogether - after all - their horses might damage them

not taking the p**s - serious question - where do we stop with the 'body armour' ???



(and I've already got 2million pub. liability and only 9 horses on site - mainly mine)

so if my yearling kicks me - who do *I* sue :)))))))))))
 

LauraBR

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Poor girl but FFS!

Horses will be horses- you know the risks and you take them. Did the livery owner chase the horses down the field?

I feel so sorry for YOs- the ruling is absurd.
 

spooks

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ive met the YO of the yard where this accident happened, its where i got otto from. the yard was very well run,tidy and well organised and the people very friendly and helpful. we dropped in on the off chance that they had some horses for sale and they only had the one who was dragged out the field, shown to us,ridden and then tried by 2 of our kids etc etc and all in the middle of a trailblazers dressage competition!!! nothing was too much trouble. its a shame what happened but as others have said ,its always a risk being around horses.
 

PeterNatt

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I have read the full article on Page 6 of Horse and Hounds and it makes it clear that from now on all yards should make it compulsory for riders to wear hard crash hats while they are anywhere near horses. The yards also need to have sufficient insurance cover which in my opinion needs to be £10,000,000 (Ten Million Pounds).
 

miller

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I used to livery on this yard, is a riding school as well and still very busy. The girl in question was catching her own pony at the time of the accident, not helping on the yard in any way.

Edit to say : Megotto - I remember Otto - how is he?
 

airedale

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I totally agree with you about from now on hard hats

but where do we stop ?????

do we also insist on toe tector footware and body protectors whilst grooming and mucking out (if DIY) ?

at the moment it's only this one case that has now set a precedent in legal terms. However, what if the next case involves a kick to the spine and a serious spinal injury.

Hence my question ....... where do we stop with the 'body armour' to be sure that we are not held liable in the future

insisting on hard hats now is really reacting after the event. What I'm talking about is proacting before a possible event.......
 

burtie

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[ QUOTE ]
I totally agree with you about from now on hard hats


[/ QUOTE ]

Considering we discussed hats just a few days ago and a lot of people don't even ride in hats, most of which on are a yard or one sort or another. I wonder how they will cope wearing a hats all the time around their horse?
 

airedale

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AND with the chinstraps done up at all times !!!!! no matter how hot it is .....

.........will ruin a few hairdressers creations for certain (but maybe create employment in the shampoo/hairdressing areas)

I do know that wearing a baseball cap round the horses all the time has actually lessened bruising from knocks on the head from hard headed horses

suppose with low flying and hot air ballons you never know what could set off a field of placidly grazing horses
 
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