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Q&A: Responsibility for fencing?

Q: I am buying a first pony for my daughter, which is to live in our neighbour’s field next to our house.

As far as I know the fieldhasn’t been used for animals before and as I’ve read recent stories in the press about loose horses causing road accidents, I was wondering if you could tell me what my legal responsibilities are regarding the fencing of this field?

Simon Mackaness of BEIB replies: As a parent it is incumbent upon you to take responsibility for your daughter and her pony in all matters.

So although the field is not technically your property, it is still your responsibility to ensure that the fencing is adequate for the purpose for which it is used – in this case in a condition suitable for the enclosure of horses and ponies.

This means all reasonable efforts must be made to contain the pony – the fencing must be of adequate height and condition around the whole boundary of the field and the gate and its fastenings must be secure.

As most fields are adjacent to public roads you could be held legally responsible for any accident injury or damages incurred by a third party, should your horse escape from his field and venture onto the road.

It’s therefore important to ensure that the field fencing and gate are in as good a condition as you can afford as it may well save you a lot of money and the stress of litigation in the long run – not to mention the trauma of your daughter’s pony receiving injury.

Once you have done all you can to ensure the fencing is secure, the best way to guarantee adequate insurance is to see if you have any public liability cover under the contents section of your household policy, or to be a member of an organisation such as the BSJA or BHS.

Members of these organisations automatically receive free liability insurance. If not, contact an equestrian insurance company who can arrange this type of cover.

It may also be a good idea to insure your daughter’s pony for death and vet fees or even ‘loss of use’ as public liability policies will only pay for the third party losses and not for any damages incurred by yourselves.

For legal as well as safety reasons, check your fencing is safe for horses.

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