A campaign has been launched to change the liability law currently crippling riding establishments across the country.
A recent House of Lords judgement holds owners liable for any injury caused by their animal while it is behaving in a way that is typical of its species. As a result, insurance premiums for equestrian businesses have risen by a staggering 200% in the past two years, forcing many businesses into liquidation.
Mrs Evans’ Llanwnda Stables in Wales is one such business that is feeling the pinch: “My business has been directly affected by rises in insurance premiums. Unless the law is changed soon, horse riding establishments like mine will go out of business and horse riding will be something only wealthy people can afford to do.”
Under the current law, an equestrian business can take every possible precaution, but if a horse is startled out hacking, the owner is responsible for any damage or injury it causes. This has lead to a dramatic downturn in the number of insurance companies willing to insure equine businesses and some companies now refuse to accept new clients.
To combat the problem the CLA is asking MPs to support a parliamentary motion, which calls for an amendment to the 1971 Animals Act, lifting the current insurance burden.
Mrs. Evans’ constituency MP, Stephen Crabb says: “If the government really is committed to a flourishing equine sector, as it says it is, it should back the CLA’s calls to remedy the insurance situation.”
To date, more than 20 MPs from all parties have signed the motion and the CLA is now stepping up its campaign to get as many MPs to pledge their support to drive home the seriousness of the issue to the government.
David Fursdon, CLA President says: “As agricultural profits decline, the equine sector is an increasingly important diversification option for rural businesses. This interpretation of the Act is effectively creating liability without fault. We hope that more MPs will back our campaign and help us push for a change in the law.”