OklahomaHorses Magazine November 2022

28 OklahomaHorses • November / December 2022 by Adam M. Trenk, Esq. H orses are risky business. They often cost more than you expect, take time from you that you never thought you would need to give them, can physical- ly injure you, and can lead to legal prob- lems arising out of business transactions or injury to others. Minimizing these risks helps you maximize the enjoyment and potential returns horses give you. That has to start with an assessment of your individ- ual situation and then the deployment of mitigation tools. If you are a professional horseman, meaning you make your living working with horses in any capacity, your risk assessment is among the most important things you can do because it is the first step to protecting your business and personal interests. As a hobby horseman, it is also extremely important. Horses Are Risky in Several Ways From a monetary standpoint, horses are risky because they are not only expensive to maintain but they are living, breathing creatures who can get sick or injured and be very costly to treat. They can even die, resulting in a total loss to their owners. Ac- cordingly, there is a lot of downside finan- cial risk associated with horse ownership. Horses can also be risky when it comes to the time they demand from your life. It is hard to say with certainty how much time is required to give them proper care and en- sure that you meet your training goals with them. Certainly some of these variables can be mitigated, but usually only with additional expenses for labor, be it hired help or professional assistance. If you are a professional trainer, the horse’s individual aptitude is just as important as your skills in determining the time it takes to achieve the desired level of success with the animal and the satisfaction of the owner. With little exception, horses are large and powerful creatures, and they all have minds of their own. As such, they can act quickly and sometimes unpredictably, resulting in injury to you or others. The deeper your bond is with a horse, the less probable in- juries to yourself become, but if horses you own or manage are used by others, there is always a risk of injury. Those risks carry with them the threat of liability for that other party’s damages. Hobby Horse Owners Have Less Risk For the hobby horse owner, risk assessment is easier. If only you or hired professionals use your animals, your risk of liability is much less. Depending on your resources, you can prevent the inconvenience of un- wanted time commitments by enlisting the help of others, and you can protect against unpredictable expenses or losses with medi- cal and mortality insurance policies. As a nonprofessional horseman who deals with horses for fun, you should also make sure you use written contracts when dealing with other horseman and profes- sionals when you are transacting business in any fashion. Written agreements are the only way to document the rights or obligations of each party, and they are sel- dom cost prohibitive. For example, if you are purchasing a horse, a written purchase and sales agreement will detail warranties the horse has, if any. If you are boarding a horse with someone else or engaging the training services of another, a boarding or training agreement is necessary to set your expectations by defining the services to be provided and the mechanism for dispute resolution should a problem arise. Written agreements are also advisable when breed- Risky Business How To Minimize Risk in Horseplay