Louisville Personal Injury Lawyers

Kentucky’s Horse History & Laws: More Than A Few Days in May

Kentucky’s rich horse history is woven into the fabric of the commonwealth and has supplied its citizens with employment opportunities, entertaining events, and a bustling industry of tourism, animal care, breeding, and racing for hundreds of years. It’s impossible to ignore the cultural effects that the equine industry has had on the people of Kentucky, and the laws of Kentucky are no different. The version of the Equine Activity Liability Act that is used in Kentucky is a set of statutes established to outline the protections for, and duties owed by, sponsors of such activities.

Kentucky's Horse History, Industry, & Laws

Estimates from the University of Kentucky value the equine industry of Kentucky and these horse related activities at over $3 billion being annually contributed to the state’s economy. Such a sizeable amount of money generating jobs and supporting communities comes with a great level of influence, which can be seen in Kentucky’s horse related statutes. The general trend of Kentucky’s Farm Animal Activity Act, which covers most activities including horses, is to provide more protection for those individuals and businesses promoting, owning, or providing the experience of horse related activities. However, participants who are injured in a horse related activity or by spectating such an activity still have potential paths to recovery when their safety was not properly considered by sponsors.

This balance between protecting those who promote these activities and obtaining recovery for those injured during horse related activities has helped refine the industry and keep it alive for over 200 years in Kentucky.

Kentucky’s Connection to Horses Throughout History

The majesty of wild horses is a breathtaking sight seldom experienced by modern Kentuckians, but early settlers of the commonwealth were able to witness the unbridled beauty of free roaming horses. Descendants of a prehistoric species known as Eohippus and later evolving into Equus, the modern wild horse migrated away from North America prior to the separation of the continents but was later reintroduced to the land by Spanish conquistadors. Once reunited with North America, wild horses flourished in the landscape of Kentucky due to the fertile ground covering limestone deposits that offered plenty of lush nourishment.

Within the cradle of Kentucky’s bluegrass hills, wild horses quickly became a valuable commodity to settlers, indigenous tribes, and merchants looking for a reliable animal for travel, hunting, farming, and working. And it wasn’t long until those who were able to train and tame horses began using them for racing and other sources of entertainment. While the origins of horse racing predate recorded history, the modern version of thoroughbred racing began to develop in the early 1700’s within England but was further popularized, organized, and refined within Kentucky in the late 1700’s. By 1828, the Lexington Association Track was constructed to provide a location for horse racing under organized written rules. And the rest of Kentucky’s history with horses has been an everchanging landscape of regulation, protection, and liability that has safeguarded a pure aspect of nature harnessed for an exhilarating cluster of seconds after the gate opens. But that fanfare and celebration so commonly recognized from horse racing is only the tip of the iceberg that is Kentucky’s equine industry.

How Kentucky Law & Horses Relate

Kentucky, like many other states, uses a form of the Equine Activity Liability Act to control and oversee the majority of activities and events that involve horses, as well as other livestock and farm animals. However, horse racing falls under a separate category of Kentucky’s Revised Statutes intended to specifically protect the racing and breeding of racehorses. Having this separate section of the law allows for more focused statutes that can control the wide array of activities that include horses without lumping them all into one catch-all governance. One main difference between the activities that has kept these sections distinctly different is the prominence of gambling involved with horseracing, which requires a different level of oversight. Classified under the “Public Safety and Morals” section of the Kentucky Revised Statutes, horse racing and showing both involve aspects such as gambling and specific licensing that is not required or as practical for other horse related activites.

On the other hand, activities outside of racing and showing horses fall under the more general “Agriculture and Animals” section of Kentucky’s Revised Statutes where the Equine Activity Liability Act can be found. The use of Kentucky’s Equine Activity Liability Act outlines different ways that participants and sponsors of such activities can be held liable or deemed responsible when an injury occurs; and becoming informed before being involved in one of these activities can reduce the likelihood for injury or a lawsuit. To better understand the nature of Kentucky’s laws relating to activities involving horses, and many other animals, follow the links below to our other resources on the subject.

Horse Riding Activities in Kentucky: Howe Are Horse Activities Classified Under Kentucky's Equine Activity Liability Act?

There is a distinct difference in how Kentucky law views activities involving horses and whether or not the activity is a certain type of race. Depending on how the activity is classified, different sections of Kentucky law apply and govern liability. Most activities involving horses are governed by Kentucky’s Farm Animal Activity Act, but not all of them. Knowing how the activity is classified and which law applies is the first step towards potential recovery for those injured in an accident involving a horse.

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Horse Related Injuries in Kentucky: Frequency, Likelihood, Severity, and Precautions

Horse related injuries and injuries that occur in farm animal activities are very common in the equestrian world, but that doesn't mean that these injuries need to happen. Injuries and accidents involving horses, and other farm animals, in Kentucky can occur for many reasons that are preventable. Understanding the nature of horses, their equipment, and horse related activities is a great base for preventing unnecessary and avoidable injuries.

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Horse Riding Safety Smarts: How to Reduce the Chance of Accidents & Stay Safe as A Sponsor or Participant

Knowing more about horse riding safety before becoming involved in a horse related activity can greatly help with preventing injuries and accidents. Any participant in a horse related activity or farm animal activity is putting themselves in a potentially dangerous situation, but reducing the likelihood of danger is only a short read away. Applying the knowledge from our Horse Riding Safety Smarts when you go riding can help keep you informed, and more importantly keep you safe.

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Horse Riding Liability & Negligence: Who is Responsible When Riding Goes Wrong?

Navigating the law surrounding horse riding liability and negligence doesn't have to be difficult, even though the terrain might be a bit rocky at times. The backbone of horse related activity liability in Kentucky is protective of sponsors of these activities, but this is not an ultimate protection that leaves injured parties without any recourse. Knowing the duties associated with sponsoring these activities and understanding what to look for the next time you are involved in a horse related activity could be the difference between staying safe and a catastrophic injury.

Read More About Horse Riding Liability & Negligence