DON’T LET THE LAW SHACKLE OUR FUTURE RIDING CHAMPIONS
The only riding experience youngsters of the future might enjoy is on the back of a rocking horse – unless a campaign to change a law which threatens to put riding establishments out of business succeeds, says the Country Land & Business Association (CLA).
"Unless the law is changed, there will be fewer opportunities for the young riders of the future to gain experience," said CLA Yorkshire director Dorothy Fairburn. "The CLA will be using next week's Badminton Horse Trials, represented by our vice president William Worsley of Hovingham, Yorkshire, to step up its campaign to persuade the government to alter laws which have sucked the equine industry into an insurance spiral.
"Riding establishment have found insurance costs rocketing since a House of Lords interpretation of the 1971 Animals Act extended absolute liability to the owners of any perfectly normal animal that causes injury simply by behaving in a way that is typical of its species.
"In practice it means that even where a business has taken every possible precaution, if a horse bolts after being spooked the owner can face unlimited liability for any damage or injury.
"In our increasingly litigious society this has meant that some equine establishments have found it impossible to obtain insurance at all – effectively putting them out of business overnight.
"In 2012 the UK will be hosting the Olympic Games but unless we can break the shackles of litigation, we are threatening the fantastic traditions of horsemanship which have always made the UK such a force in the equestrian world. We are effectively saying to our children, sorry, but there's nowhere you can go to learn to ride – try training on a rocking horse."
The Animals Act originally aimed to make the owners of animals such as a lions or tigers - or individual animals known to be dangerous – liable for any harm or damage they caused. The CLA says that extending the scope of the Act means that the owners of perfectly normal animals that cause injury just by behaving in a way that is typical or characteristic of their species are now vulnerable to court action.
"Of course, owners of equine businesses – and, indeed, individuals - must adhere to high safety standards and we are not arguing for no liability whatever the facts, simply that there should not be open-ended liability for accidents over which no one has control. Currently, owners are being held liable and penalised even where it is recognised they are not at fault. The CLA's view is that it is unfair and unworkable for equine businesses to have to pay for accidents where all reasonable preventative steps have been taken and we shall be asking visitors to Badminton to sign a campaign postcard which we will send to their MP encouraging them to back a change in the law," said Miss Fairburn.
Note To News and Picture Desks
The CLA will host a photo and interview opportunity on its stand at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials at 12.30 on Friday May 5th when a young rider and rocking horse will join riders and representatives of the CLA's equestrian team and the CLA's national vice-president, William Worsley, of Hovingham nr Malton, North Yorkshire, on the campaign platform.
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A farmer’s daughter from the North York Moors, where her brothers still farm, Dorothy has clocked up more than 30 years’ service to the rural economy since graduating from Wye College (University of London) with a degree in agriculture.
She qualified as a rural practice chartered surveyor (land agent) whilst working for Savills plc in London and York, dealing with sales and purchases of country houses and estates as well as the management of investment estates for financial institutions.
Prior to joining the CLA, Dorothy worked for the National Trust in Yorkshire. There she managed some 30,000 acres of outstanding countryside as well as being responsible for historic houses open to the public and the acquisition of major new properties.
Dorothy was awarded an MBE in the 2011 New Year Honours List in recognition of her services to rural affairs.
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