Navigating Equine Legal Matters

horse with rider

The horse industry is a beloved and unique part of life in Florida. When you own a horse, you have a right to enjoy your equine passion. Sometimes, however, problems arise. Whether you already own or are looking to own a horse in Florida, you might be wondering what legal matters you should be aware of and what legal disputes could arise. Equine legal matters refer to the various  types of legal issues within the horse industry. Common reasons that horse owners find themselves involved in equine litigation include the following:  

horse with rider

Property Disputes   

Property disputes, such as horse ownership conflicts, are disagreements over horse ownership that may lead to a dispute that can only be remedied through property law.   

Contractual Disputes

Breeding, purchase, or lease disagreements may force parties to seek a legal remedy through contractual law. Breeding contracts, sales contracts, and lease agreements can involve and impact breeding rights, payment terms, and liability for injuries.  

Equine Activities Liability 

Disputes involving injuries sustained during equine activity directly implicate issues surrounding “equine activities liability.” Depending on whether negligence occurred, the injured party or the injured party’s loved one can pursue a claim against the horse owner whose horse was involved in the incident under Florida’s equine activities liability laws. Therefore, horse owners may be held liable for injuries caused by their horses. This can include injuries to riders, handlers, or other people who come into contact with the horse. 

Disputes With Multi-faceted legal issues 

Sometimes an equine dispute includes numerous issues, including breeding, sales, or horse boarding contracts that could result in both a property and contractual dispute. If someone becomes injured on a horse, a liability issue could also occur.  

Horse Owners in Florida  

Current and future Wellington horse owners, West Palm Beach horse owners, Fort Lauderdale horse owners, and Miami horse owners can benefit from consulting with an experienced equine attorney who understands the laws and regulations in Florida 

How to Resolve Equine Disputes  

An experienced equine attorney can help you resolve disputes that occur. There are several ways that a legal dispute is settled in Florida. 

  1. Mediation: Mediation is when a neutral third party helps both parties find a mutually agreed-upon solution. Sometimes, both parties cannot agree in mediation and the case must go to court.  
  2. Arbitration: Arbitration is a dispute resolution process similar to mediation, but a third party makes a final, legally binding decision, and therefore, the case settles before litigation and trial.  
  3. Litigation: Sometimes, the dispute must be taken to court, where a judge or jury decides the number of damages owed or the final settlement.  
    1. Horse industry organizations: Some horse organizations have programs in place for members to help remedy legal disputes. 

Overall, equine law in Florida can be complex, and it’s important to consult with an attorney who has experience in this area if you have any legal questions or concerns. By understanding your rights and responsibilities as a horse owner, you can ensure that you are in compliance with the law and that you are protecting yourself and your horse from potential legal issues.