Just like many of you reading this blog post, we have all been on Facebook lately and have seen the warning posts going out to others of misfortune dealings with shady parties. It seems like this happens more and more around the holidays as people are scrambling to find deals on ponies for their children, or sell horses before winter sets in. After seeing several this week, it made me wonder exact what kind of Missouri legislation is out there that we all need to be aware about.
1. Avoid “backyard” trainers.
Parents, we know that horses routinely steal the hearts of children and beg for ponies of their own, but in reality there is usually a middle ground that is met with riding lessons. No purchase of an animal larger than your dog, someone else cleans up after it and feeds it, your child still gets the experience, and you get pictures of them riding to attach to the Christmas newsletter. Best of both worlds, right? It certainly can be, but can also be a nightmare waiting to happen. Just as in any area, Southwest Missouri is notorious for having rednecks, and some of our horse professionals certainly are no exception.
The Missouri equine legislation recognizes liability of equine accidents…but there are always exceptions. Please see the following taken directly from the Missouri Equine Council website:
Similar to many state statutes, the Missouri statute contained certain exceptions which provided that the equine professional would NOT be immune from liability in certain instances involving conduct which should be foreseeable and thus preventable by the professional. These exceptions provided that there would be NO IMMUNITY of the equine professional if it was proven they (paraphrased):
1. Provided faulty tack
2. Mismatched horse and rider
3. Failed to warn of known latent (not easily discoverable) conditions on the land
4. Evidenced willful or wanton disregard for safety
5. Committed an intentional injury
6. Failed to use that degree of care that an ordinarily careful and prudent person would use under the same or similar circumstances.
RSMo §537.325.4(1 – 6) (1994)
I want to take a second to reflect on the importance of #2. Matching a horse and rider is a knowledge, as well as a skill. The instructor must not only gain a background from the rider as a sense of orientation, but they must also know their horses well enough to make a competent match. Don’t be afraid to ask the trainer questions about their qualifications, experiences, etc, as you are not only entrusting them enough to pay them, but to also trust your child’s safety with them.
2. Cover yourself in horse dealings.
Too many times people stay careless in horse sales in this area. A firm handshake and a head nod may have been true enough to uphold a person’s word 50 years ago, but we certainly live in a different era now. I hate to see anyone get taken advantage of in a shady dealing, or scammed by a desperate soul so in hopes to help my readers out, I have a “cheat sheet” of necessary sale precautions to keep you from getting a headache!
A. Always have a bill of sale.
B. Horses should always be sold “as is”.
C. Encourage a vet check on the sale horse.
D. Always draft up contracts for sale trials, leases, payments, etc.
E. Buyer should always release themselves of liability.
The golden rule can be brought to mind in terms of how to handle shady situations, unfortunately far too few actually know what it truly means anymore. I hope this blog helps my equine readers, and that you all share with people in which you hope to help as well. Just always remember, to first look out for yourself, and as always…look out for the horse as well. 🙂