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Q: My teenage son rides a horse at a private livery yard where the yard owner looks after the horse for its late owner’s husband. My son grooms and rides the horse and one of the liveries rides out with him.

The livery and the yard owner are happy for my son to ride and help with the horse, but both say he rides at his own risk.

While I pay a small contribution towards the horse’s keep, he is not on loan to us. Should I take out insurance for my son?
CP, West Yorks

This is actually a somewhat complicated scenario. We asked David Buckton, associate director of South Essex Insurance Brokers (SEIB), for his advice.

“This appears to be an arrangement set up to ensure continued care for a horse after its owner has died. Did the deceased wife have any insurance that could be or has been transferred to the husband, who is now the horse’s owner?” asked David.

Is there existing insurance?

“The parent should find out whether either the horse’s owner (the widower) or the yard owner, or both, have existing insurance that covers the situation. They probably haven’t, as they say the child rides at his ‘own risk’.

“The situation is complicated by the son’s young age,” said David. “Does the yard have a written health and safety policy? As the son seems to be carrying out activities on behalf of the yard owner, has the yard owner consulted the local authority regarding a young person’s work permit?”

Formal loan agreement

“I would be concerned about the arrangement as it stands — the son is being left in a potentially risky situation, possibly without adequate supervision,” said David.

“The parent is paying a contribution towards keep, although it is said not to be a loan arrangement. I would recommend that a formal written loan agreement is drawn up, setting out who is responsible for insurance — the British Horse Society [BHS] provides examples of these.”

Who is responsible?

“Once in place, the parent, as the borrower, is now responsible for the horse and the son’s riding becomes a family activity, not a job done for the livery yard,” explained David.

Insurance could then be obtained from a specialist equine insurance broker or, for example, by taking out gold family membership of the BHS. This includes public liability insurance and personal accident cover — although personal accident benefits for children are reduced.”


South Essex Insurance Brokers, tel: 01708 850027

British Horse Society

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (4 June, ’09)

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