Horse Industry Code of Practice
The Code of Practice for the horse industry has been developed by the Australian Horse Industry Council. The most recent revised version is from October 2009. It is not legally binding, but would be beneficial for equine related organisations in managing their activities.
The Code includes rules and procedures for the safety of participants, spectators, staff and horses with regard to facilities, health and hygiene. It does not purport to be a complete and exhaustive compilation of rules and processes for the running of all horse activities. However it does provide useful guidance in raising the minimum standard of safety within the horse industry.
Inherent Risks of Horse Activities
Horse riding is an inherently risky activity. Horses are, by their nature, flighty and unpredictable animals. To totally eliminate the risk of riders falling off, they would have to be stopped from mounting in the first place.
However, different disciplines have different levels of inherent risk. The cross-country phase of a 3* event would have significantly greater risk of injury than low level dressage. While it is not possible to eliminate all risk associated with equestrian sports, all steps should be taken to minimise the risk through due care and skill.
The following is a list of examples where risk could be reduced by the exercise of due care and skill:
- Providing equipment that is poorly maintained and near breaking point;
- Failing to provide suitable facilities for the purpose for which they are intended;
- Hiring out or using dangerous horses;
- Failing to make reasonable effort to match suitable horses and riders together;
- Doing something, or not doing something, that is reckless and causes injury;
- Intentionally causing injury.
Waivers & Risk Acknowledgement
A waiver is a legal document or clause in a legal document that seeks to limit the liability of an organisation in the event that a participant suffers a loss or injury. This limitation of liability can only be done within the framework of the relevant laws of the State or Territory, or they will be deemed void.
Waivers may have greater benefits in managing risk by highlighting the hazards inherent in the activity to the participant. Making the participant aware of these dangers may cause them to modify their behaviour and therefore make safer decisions. It also prevents any claims later on that the participant was not aware of the risks of the activity.
Additionally, by including a self assessment in the risk acknowledgement declaration, it provides some protection for the organisation if there is a claim arising from the incompatibility of a horse and rider. It places some liability back on the participant who overrates his or her ability to the organisation or business.
Waivers and risk acknowledgement declarations are very important for organisations, businesses and individuals in the horse industry. Whether you are a large riding school, an event organiser, a private instructor, or a potential buyer riding a horse for sale – waivers and risk acknowledgements are very important to ensuring everyone is aware of the risks involved and where the liability falls should there be an accident.