Limitations on Liability of Equine Activities
This was not prepared by a lawyer and is not meant to replace the advice of a licensed legal professional. This document is meant to provide a summary of the limitations on liability for equine and livestock activities within the State of Utah.
During the State of Utah 2003 legislative session, Senator Beverly Ann Evans sponsored a bill that added livestock activities and professionals to the provisions of Title 78 and provided limitations on the liability of equine activities and professionals. Within the context of activities involving horses and other equids, this provided protection from liability to people providing services that involves these animals.
Activities involving equines and other livestock are considered inherently dangerous due to the unpredictability of these animals. Professionals do their best to mitigate these dangers but cannot do away with them completely. The bill sponsored by Senator Evans provides legal protection to equine and livestock professionals and activity sponsors and details the circumstances that void this legal protection.
The complete part of the Utah Code which details limitations on liability for equine and livestock activities has been included below. While it should be read and understood in its entirety, special attention should be paid to 78B-4-201(5), which defines inherent risk, and 78B-4-202(2), which details the circumstances under which an activity sponsor or professional may be held liability for injury or death; these sections are underlined.
Utah Code Title 78B Judicial Code Chapter 4 Limitations on Liability
Part 2 Limitations on Liability for Equine and Livestock Activities
78B-4-201 Definitions, as renumbered and amended by Chapter 3, 2008 General Session.
As used in this part:
(1) “Equine” means any member of the equidae family.
(2) “Equine activity” means:
(a) equine shows, fairs, competitions, performances, racing, sales, or parades that involve any breeds of equines and any equine disciplines, including dressage, hunter and jumper horse shows, grand prix jumping, multiple-day events, combined training, rodeos, driving, pulling, cutting, polo, steeple chasing, hunting, endurance trail riding, and western games;
(b) boarding or training equines;
(c) teaching persons equestrian skills;
(d) riding, inspecting, or evaluating an equine owned by another person regardless of whether the owner receives monetary or other valuable consideration;
(e) riding, inspecting, or evaluating an equine by a prospective purchaser; or
(f) other equine activities of any type including rides, trips, hunts, or informal or spontaneous activities sponsored by an equine activity sponsor.
(3) “Equine activity sponsor” means an individual, group, governmental entity, club, partnership, or corporation, whether operating for profit or as a nonprofit entity, which sponsors, organizes, or provides facilities for an equine activity, including:
(a) pony clubs, hunt clubs, riding clubs, 4-H programs, therapeutic riding programs, and public and private schools and postsecondary educational institutions that sponsor equine activities; and
(b) operators, instructors, and promoters of equine facilities, stables, clubhouses, ponyride strings, fairs, and arenas.
(4) “Equine professional” means a person compensated for an equine activity by:
(a) instructing a participant;
(b) renting to a participant an equine to ride, drive, or be a passenger upon the equine; or
(c) renting equine equipment or tack to a participant.
(5) “Inherent risk” with regard to equine or livestock activities means those dangers or conditions which are an integral part of equine or livestock activities, which may include:
(a) the propensity of the animal to behave in ways that may result in injury, harm, or death to persons on or around them;
(b) the unpredictability of the animal’s reaction to outside stimulation such as sounds, sudden movement, and unfamiliar objects, persons, or other animals;
(c) collisions with other animals or objects; or
(d) the potential of a participant to act in a negligent manner that may contribute to injury to the participant or others, such as failing to maintain control over the animal or not acting within his or her ability.
(6) “Livestock” means all domesticated animals used in the production of food, fiber, or livestock activities.
(7) “Livestock activity” means:
(a) livestock shows, fairs, competitions, performances, packing events, or parades or rodeos that involve any or all breeds of livestock;
(b) using livestock to pull carts or to carry packs or other items;
(c) using livestock to pull travois-type carriers during rescue or emergency situations;
(d) livestock training or teaching activities or both;
(e) taking livestock on public relations trips or visits to schools or nursing homes;
(f) boarding livestock;
(g) riding, inspecting, or evaluating any livestock belonging to another, whether or not the owner has received some monetary consideration or other thing of value for the use of the livestock or is permitting a prospective purchaser of the livestock to ride, inspect, or evaluate the livestock;
(h) using livestock in wool production;
(i) rides, trips, or other livestock activities of any type however informal or impromptu that are sponsored by a livestock activity sponsor; and
(j) trimming the feet of any livestock.
(8) “Livestock activity sponsor” means an individual, group, governmental entity, club, partnership, or corporation, whether operating for profit or as a nonprofit entity, which sponsors, organizes, or provides facilities for a livestock activity, including:
(a) livestock clubs, 4-H programs, therapeutic riding programs, and public and private schools and postsecondary educational institutions that sponsor livestock activities; and
(b) operators, instructors, and promoters of livestock facilities, stables, clubhouses, fairs, and arenas.
(9) “Livestock professional” means a person compensated for a livestock activity by:
(a) instructing a participant;
(b) renting to a participant any livestock for the purpose of riding, driving, or being a passenger upon the livestock; or
(c) renting livestock equipment or tack to a participant.
(10) “Participant” means any person, whether amateur or professional, who directly engages in an equine activity or livestock activity, regardless of whether a fee has been paid to participate.
(11)(a) “Person engaged in an equine or livestock activity” means a person who rides, trains, leads, drives, or works with an equine or livestock, respectively.
(b) Subsection (11)(a) does not include a spectator at an equine or livestock activity or a participant at an equine or livestock activity who does not ride, train, lead, or drive an equine or any livestock.
78B-4-202 Equine and livestock activity liability limitations, as amended by Chapter 345, 2017 General Session.
(1) It shall be presumed that participants in equine or livestock activities are aware of and understand that there are inherent risks associated with these activities.
(2) An equine activity sponsor, equine professional, livestock activity sponsor, or livestock professional is not liable for an injury to or the death of a participant due to the inherent risks associated with these activities, unless the sponsor or professional:
(a)(i) provided the equipment or tack;
(ii) the equipment or tack caused the injury; and
(iii) the equipment failure was due to the sponsor’s or professional’s negligence;
(b) failed to make reasonable efforts to determine whether the equine or livestock could behave in a manner consistent with the activity with the participant;
(c) owns, leases, rents, or is in legal possession and control of land or facilities upon which the participant sustained injuries because of a dangerous condition which was known to or should have been known to the sponsor or professional and for which warning signs have not been conspicuously posted;
(d)(i) commits an act or omission that constitutes negligence, gross negligence, or willful or wanton disregard for the safety of the participant; and
(ii) that act or omission causes the injury; or
(e) intentionally injures or causes the injury to the participant.
(3) This chapter does not prevent or limit the liability of an equine activity sponsor, an equine professional, a livestock activity sponsor, or a livestock professional who is:
(a) a veterinarian licensed under Title 58, Chapter 28, Veterinary Practice Act, in an action to recover for damages incurred in the course of providing professional treatment of an equine;
(b) liable under Title 4, Chapter 25, Estrays; or
(c) liable under Title 78B, Chapter 6, Part 7, Utah Product Liability Act.
78B-4-203 Signs to be posted listing inherent risks and liability limitations, as renumbered and amended by Chapter 3, 2008 General Session.
(1) An equine or livestock activity sponsor shall provide notice to participants of the equine or livestock activity that there are inherent risks of participating and that the sponsor is not liable for certain of those risks.
(2) Notice shall be provided by:
(a) posting a sign in a prominent location within the area being used for the activity; or
(b) providing a document or release for the participant, or the participant’s legal guardian if the participant is a minor, to sign.
(3) The notice provided by the sign or document shall be sufficient if it includes the definition of inherent risk in Section 78B-4-201 and states that the sponsor is not liable for those inherent risks.
(4) Notwithstanding Subsection (1), signs are not required to be posted for parades and activities that fall within Subsections 78B-4-201(2)(f) and (7)(c), (e), (g), (h), and (j).