Every month you hear of riding schools closing. After reading an article on Horse & Hound this week about a woman who won £46,000 after suing a riding holiday company for her apparently fairly minor injuries I just feel like more has to be done to protect these companies from non horsey people!
Don’t get me wrong, I think it is great that non horsey people are showing an interest and wanting to have a go. And I fully accept that sometimes, he riding school/centre was at fault. However, the general public just don’t seem to understand that not everything can be controlled and that accidents can happen without anyone being at fault.
The woman in this article claimed that:
- The horse she was given was not quiet enough to reflect her experience
- That the company didn’t have her riding in a controlled environment where the horses would not be spooked
- That she was not given a suitable body protector to wear.
Now, in some cases these could be reasonable claims to make about a company. But I also have several issues with this, which I am going to explain now.
No horse is completely safe!
Even the quietest, most well behaved horse can be taken by surprise and spook. This is just life. They are animals, not robots. The vast majority of companies will work hard to source suitable horses for inexperienced riders and will never put someone on a horse they think is dangerous.
It really bothers me that people just assume that there is no risk involved and if they do get injured, that it is someone else’s fault. Horse riding is a dangerous activity. If you are deciding to get on a horse, you have to accept that you might fall off.
You can’t control nature!
The woman in this case was on a riding holiday. These holidays usually involve riding through the local landscapes and possibly a trip to the beach. While the company can make sure they know the area and select the safest route, they cannot control what everyone else does in public.
The woman in this case claimed that the company should have made sure they didn’t come into any contact with dogs or other things which might spook the horse. Unfortunately, if you want to do anything more than go round in circles in an enclosed private area, you can’t control any of these things.
Back protectors aren’t currently required!
Under current legislation, there are no rules suggesting that these companies have to supply back protection for clients. So I can’t understand why a client can sue for this reason. Not only this, but back protection is not one size fits all. So even if they supplied a range of back protection, there is no guarantee it will fit every client. And ill fitting protective wear will do very little to protect you in a fall and in some cases could cause further injury.
But more importantly, if you feel like you need back protection the company doesn’t offer, don’t get on the horse without it! You could hire or buy your own. You don’t expect a Taxi driver to check your wearing your seatbelt do you.
While I understand that people deserve compensation when someone is at fault, I can’t help but feel that companies should not be required to control the natural flight behaviours of their horses. Freak accidents can just happen when it comes to animals and I’m not sure you should be able to blame someone if they have done everything reasonably possible to prevent these incidents.
What do you think?