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Liability for Indiana Equine Professionals or Equine Activities Business Owners

Liability for Indiana Equine Professionals or Equine Activities Business Owners

Equine activities come with a certain level of inherent risk; in Indiana, equine professionals are typically not held liable for any harm that may occur during these activities. Individuals must understand the risks involved and take necessary precautions to ensure their own safety while riding horses or otherwise being around horses.

Equine, or equestrian activities, include boarding, caring for, showing, and riding horses. Signs indicating immunity from civil liability for equestrian professionals in Indiana are often visible in communal barn areas or at the entrance to equine facilities. This is no coincidence as warning notice signs must be placed in a visible location in proximity to the equine activities. The notice on a sign must be printed in black letters, and each letter must be at least one (1) inch in height.

Indiana Code 34-31-5-1 provides that an equine activity sponsor or equine professional is not liable for: (1) an injury to a participant; or (2) the death of a participant; resulting from an inherent risk of equine activities. The statute only grants immunity to “equine activity sponsors” and “equine professionals,” leaving amateur riders without protection. Similarly, section 34-31-5-1 only applies to plaintiffs considered “participants” in equine activities.

Equestrian sports are inherently risky, and the statute here seeks to recognize that some risks are outside the control of an equine professional. But what constitutes an inherent risk of managing and maintaining horses versus what is within the control of the equine professional can sometimes be challenging to recognize.

34-31-5-2 states that faulty equipment or track conditions that cause injury to someone in and around a facility, which the equine professional provided, does not prevent or limit the liability of that professional. Additionally, local zoning regulations may impact where you can operate horse facilities. Failing to comply with local zoning ordinances could affect your liability as well.

Making sensible decisions on who may participate in equine activities is also important. If you provide a horse and fail to make reasonable and prudent efforts based on the participant’s representations of the participant’s ability to safely participate in the equine activity, you could still face liability.

If you own and maintain an equine facility, or are an equine professional, and are interested in learning the full extent of your rights, do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced Indiana attorneys who is well versed in the particulars of equine law.


This McNeelyLaw LLP publication should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion of any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.

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