Whoa, Nelly!

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Q: I was only sixteen.  At a dude ranch, I decided to go horseback riding.  A horse wrangler gave us instructions, and accompanied us.  At the end, during the dismount, Roy instructed me to lean on him.  When I did, my leg made contact with Nelly’s side.  She became jittery and jumpy.  Roy moved away from me and towards Nelly’s head, to tame her.  His moving caused Nelly to move away; I was left with nothing to grab onto, and fell.

A: The defendant will surely claim that it is immunized by the doctrine of ‘primary assumption of the risk’, under which participants in a sporting activity assume commonly-appreciated risks inherent in the activity.  An assessment of whether you assumed a risk depends on (a) its openness and obviousness, (b) your skill and experience, (c) your conduct, and (d) the ranch’s conduct.

In one well-known case, an adult was a show manager for a saddle-horse association.  She had just completed the tallying of some scores and was headed toward the announcer’s booth.  Before crossing the track, this manager admonished someone to put a bridle on her horse.  Instead, the horse took off galloping – and minutes later struck the manager.  The Court held that the manager, as an experienced participant in competitive horse shows, was aware of the dangers associated with horses and assumed the risk of being injured by a horse at the racetrack.

Here, the ranch will claim that, aware of the risks associated with horseback riding, you assumed the risk of falling from your horse if the animal would make a sudden and unintended move.  Your attorney will forcefully respond that you were a novice.  Moreover, you should not have been provided with so nervous a horse, the wrangler should have handled the situation better, and his conduct unreasonably increased the risks.  Clearly, you were confronted with a dangerous condition over and above the usual dangers that are inherent in horseback riding.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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