Releases of liability are also known as waivers and are usually the most important, yet misunderstood documents in the equine industry. Most states, including California, enforce liability releases and it's important that the release is properly worded and signed, in case it ever must hold up in court.
Below are a few problems that are most commonly founded with liability releases in the horse industry:
Accept No Excuses
Anyone who is riding or handling horses on your property must fill out and sign a release form – the form is worthless if it's unsigned. To stay on the safe side, have anyone who comes onto the property sign the waiver to ensure that you're protected and if someone decides to ride or groom a horse last minute. Even if someone claims they are just "hopping on for a minute," it's important that they still sign the release – anything could happen even in such a short time span.
Remember Who Can Sign Hem
If someone is 18 or older, they can obviously sign for themselves and it's legally binding. However, in the case of a minor, a parent or legal guardian must sign the release form. Keep in mind that if someone brings their underage friend to the barn, this is not their legal guardian and therefore their signature may not hold up in court.
Lock Away Important Contracts
While you may trust your boarders and employees, it's important to safeguard important legal documents for your legal protection.
Be Sure to Fill in the Blanks
Oftentimes, people find releases online or in books with blanks where you fill in your barn name. For example, "In exchange for the privilege of riding horses at XYZ Farm, I agree to release and hold harmless __________________.” If you were to forget to fill in the blank, the waiver would not hold up in court. Instead, contact a lawyer experienced in equine law to help you write your liability release to ensure that your release can be held reliable.