Equine Law 101

horseEquine law is the practice of law that involves everything related to horses, from horse businesses and organizations, to horse facilities and horse-related activities. If you are engaged in recreational or professional equine activities, a Southern California horse lawyer can help you understand the essentials of equine law that you may need. Equine lawyers know how laws pertaining to horses figure in other laws relating to business and animal rights, among other legal aspects.

Lawyers who practice equine law provide a number of legal services, including but not limited to gaming laws, drafting and reviewing horse-related contracts such as lease agreements and sales, and litigation related to injuries. They can also assist in settling disputes and issues concerning tax, as well as immigration issues for those working in the horse industry.

The law treats horses differently from other animals such as dogs and cats because depending on the circumstances, a horse can be considered as an athlete, a piece of personal property, a vehicle, or as a unit of livestock. Because of this, equine law is complicated and should be studied thoroughly.

Studying equine law
Much of the equine law pertains to business matters and the horse industry. Professionals trained in equine law are knowledgeable not only about the legal concepts and terminology used but they are also aware of how animals are treated as property under the law. If you want to study law and focus on the horse industry, you will be studying topics such as the following:

  • veterinary malpractice
  • types of insurance related to horse ownership and related issues
  • injury to animals and measure of damage
  • liability for injuries caused by horses
  • equine activity liability acts and releases of liability
  • contracts and laws governing horse sales and leases

The Horse Protection Act
One of the federal laws that concern horses is the Horse Protection Act. This law prohibits horses that have been subjected to soring from participating in auctions, sales, exhibitions, or shows. Soring is practice that is done to a horse to alter and accentuate its gait, and is painful to a horse. The practice is done by blistering the forelegs of the horse by applying chemicals or using mechanical devices.

Horses shown off in competitions are judged according to their gait; to look pleasing to judges their natural gait is exaggerated. Horses can be trained to walk in a way that meets the competition standard, but some owners, trainers, and exhibitors make their horses go through the abusive and painful surgical practice of soring instead.

The equine law in relation to other laws
Horses are affected by many federal and state laws. At the federal level, the major horse-specific law is called the Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act. It serves to manage and protect the wild horse herds of the United States. Laws protecting horses at the state level would depend on a particular state’s own laws against slaughter, cruelty, and soring.

As you can see, equine law is complex and requires not only a general understanding of the law but also a thorough knowledge of the horse industry. If you will be undertaking an activity or putting up a business that is related to horses, you have to make sure it meets the regulations set forth by the law for the protection of the horses and your own security as well.