Spiralling insurance costs for riding schools and livery yards are threatening the existence of many horse-related businesses all over England and Wales, according to the Country Land and Business Association.

The CLA has responded to the problem by launching a new online petition to tackle the issue. The petition will be handed to Jim Knight, Minister for the Horse at the CLA Game Fair at Belvoir Castle on Friday 22 July.

The situation began with a House of Lords ruling in 2003 over a dispute when a horse was spooked and ran through a fence causing a road accident. The driver of the car sued the horse owner for compensation and following this, insurance premiums for horse owners, and riding schools in particular, soared.

The ruling means that if an animal you own causes harm by behaving in a way typical of that type of animal, for example a horse being spooked and running into someone, even if you could have done nothing to prevent it, you are liable to be sued and insurance premiums reflect this. Effectively you have to insure against an accident happening.

The CLA says some businesses are finding it simply impossible to get any insurance, let alone affordable insurance.

“Our view is that it is unfair and unworkable for equine and livestock businesses to have to pay for accidents where all reasonable preventative steps have been taken,” said a spokesperson.

It hopes that the government will realise that a review of the original Animals Act is required, with a view to resolving this costly situation.

Jim Knight has said that he understands equestrian businesses are suffering: “We are going to look actively at the Animals Act and resolve this issue and I think we are capable of negotiating with the necessary people to achieve this.”

The petition was launched at the Royal Show, and can be found online at www.cla.org.uk/animalsactpetition.php