Horse Riding Activities in Kentucky: How Is Horse Riding Classified Under Kentucky’s Equine Activity Liability Act?

Kentucky law splits activities that involve horses into two separate subjects: horse related activities and horse racing. The former, horse related activities, is a catch-all that encompasses all activities like normal horse riding activities that involve a non-racehorse and are not covered under horse racing. The latter section covering horse racing involves all horse racing that is not harness racing, the showing of racehorses, and aspects surrounding the promotion, wagering, and sales associated with horse racing. The section covering horse racing is an extensive chapter of the Kentucky Revised Statutes, whereas the section covering horse related activities is Kentucky’s version of the Equine Activity Liability Act.

Kentucky’s Farm Animal Activity Liability Act

Many states have a version of the Equine Activity Liability Act that controls the ability to recover after a horse related injury, but each state writes their statutes differently. Kentucky is one of the 48 different states to feature a version of this act; however, Kentucky’s version is a Farm Animal Activity Act that covers far more animals than just horses. With cattle, oxen, sheep, swine, goats, horses, ponies, mules, donkeys, hinnies, ratites, camelids, and poultry all covered by this same act, it’s good to know the same standard applies no matter the farm animal involved. But the main note to take away from how Kentucky classifies its farm animals and activities for liability is how horse racing falls outside of the control of this act. All horse racing activities that are not harness racing at county fairs are governed by Chapter 230 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes, and different standards apply to these activities.

Activities Governed by the Farm Animal Activity Act and Your Status

Essentially all activities you can imagine which include a horse, and don’t include horse racing, will be classified as a farm animal activity for the purposes of the Farm Animal Activity Act. All forms of dealing with a horse from the medical treatment and grooming to the sale of a horse are covered by the Farm Animal Activity, and liability will be determined using the scope of the act. Only pure spectators who do not voluntarily place themselves within the immediate proximity of a Farm Animal Activity will be considered outside of the act’s scope when an issue arises, and a different standard of liability will apply for these spectators. All other participants, sponsors, and individuals or businesses involved with a farm animal activity will be subject to this act when there is an injury or damages related to the farm animal activity.

Farm Animal Activities Commonly Seen in Kentucky

Obviously riding a horse lands squarely within Kentucky’s Farm Animal Activity Act, but touring the farm animal facility used for an event, assisting in managing a farm animal activity, or sponsoring an event featuring such animals also is covered by the act. Such a broad scope offers a great deal of protection for the equine industry, but there are still ways to seek recovery. Kentucky law includes the following list of activities covered by the act:

  • Shows, fairs, exhibits, competitions, performances, or parades
  • Training or teaching activities
  • Rides, trips, shows, clinics, demonstrations, sales, hunts, parades, games, exhibitions, or other activities of any type sponsored by a farm animal activity sponsor
  • Testing, riding, inspecting, or evaluating a farm animal belonging to another

Being involved in a fam animal activity such as the ones above allows for more protection to sponsors than participants in most instances, but an injury due to the negligence of a sponsor or their employee may make them liable. It’s important to understand how the liability of farm animal activities is outlined in Kentucky’s statutes to better protect yourself before an injury occurs. You can find out more about how liability is attributed and who may be held responsible for injuries when an accident happens involving a farm animal activity in our resources below.