Farrier Injured on the Job: Who is Liable?

Case-by-case review shows no answer

You, an experienced farrier, are shoeing a horse belonging to a new client. As you approach the horse’s hindquarters and reach for his leg, the horse delivers a sudden, swift and wild kick. Your leg is shattered and you are going to be unable to shoe horses for several weeks.

Do you have a case against your client?   

This article explains: 

  • Whether farriers have recourse against the horse owner or keeper after an on-the-job injury occurs.
  • Legal rights of farriers under theories of negligence and under equine activity liability laws.
  • Options available to farriers to protect themselves.

Negligence Liability

In the six states that have no equine activity liability law on the books, or if an equine liability law does not apply to a particular setting, those who suffer a horse-related injury may have legal rights to sue under the legal standard of negligence. Although its definition can be somewhat complex, negligence is generally the failure to act as a reasonably prudent person would act under similar circumstances.

Here are a few court decisions involving injured farriers who sued horse owners under a legal theory of negligence:

  • In a 1997 case from Nebraska, a farrier’s case was dismissed. The farrier was hired to shoe a warmblood named “Saint” who was known to be hard to catch in the pasture. While the farrier tried to catch Saint, the horse jumped the pasture fence, breaking a fence board.

The broken board smacked the farrier in the head, delivering serious injuries and placing…

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