COVID19 Legal Issues for the Horse Community

Click HERE for the free e-book.

Are you concerned about the legal issues surrounding COVID19 and your horse business or personal horses? I have written an e-book entitled “Horse People, Don’t Panic: COVID19 Legal Issues for the Horse Community.” It’s a free PDF download, and you are encouraged to share it in its entirety and let others know they can download it here.

You will learn about legal issues concerning liability, horse care if you get sick, equine estate planning, and contracts during these difficult times. This is an educational service of Windhorse Legal, PLLC, and does not constitute legal advice. It is my hope that this e-book can give you some information that helps you make informed decisions and helps you discuss these issues with an equine attorney in your state.

Feel free to contact me if you need legal services I can provide. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay compassionate.

The Trouble with Photos

Mustang Aubrey equine law horse law contracts estate planning trademarkI don’t know about you but one of the fun things about owning a horse business is that I get to look through interesting photos whenever I put together material for my website or social media. There are literally millions of photos online to look at. Really. I just did a Google search for “horse image,” for example, and got 1,990,000,000 results in .52 seconds. I could just download any number of photos for my website and social media accounts, right?

Wait. Whoa. Not so fast. Did you read the viral story about the hipster? Yes, this does connect to your use of online photos with your equine business. A hipster guy got so mad thinking a journal had used his photo without permission when it reported on a study about hipsters that he threatened to sue the journal. The funny part of the story is that the photo wasn’t him but it confirmed the study results that hipsters tend to conform to a certain look. What’s important for us is the story behind the photo.

The journal had bought the hipster photo from Getty Images. You have may have bought their photos or spent time looking at them in your search for marketing or blog illustrations. The journal’s editor-in-chief contacted Getty, and it had a signed release from the model in the picture. That release was worth its weight in gold because it showed the man who emailed was not in the photo and therefore had no legal action against the journal or Getty.

You hopefully now see where I am going with this and your use of online photos. A lot of people download photos from the Internet, but that viral story illustrations a point you may never have thought about: you should not use these photos on your website or social media unless you or the company you bought them from have a model release. (What about pictures you’ve taken yourself? I will get to that issue in another blog post, I promise.) Chances are good that you are going to have to pay for high-quality photos that you can use legally. Places like Getty, which has some stunning photos, may be a bit pricey for your budget, although the photos are certainly worth it. Take a look at a site like PixelRockstar. You can get photos for about $1 a picture. In case you’re wondering, the picture I used for this post is one I took of Aubrey, my sorrel Mustang.

I know that copyright and the use of photos in blogs and for marketing is a huge topic. Stay tuned to my blog as I continue to explore how we can use great photos to help people learn about our equine businesses. Feel free to contact me if you need a release to use photos or if you want to register the copyright of your photo(s).



Midlife Horse Buyers

horse law attorney older rider purchase sales contractA recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Midlife Crisis?  Maybe a Horse Will Help,” reported that women in their midlife years are returning to horses and horseback riding. Such a phenomenon is no surprise to horsewomen. But having this issue addressed in a well-respected, nationally-read newspaper raises our personal awareness of this issue to one of national interest. A lot of horse people, especially women, feel like people who aren’t involved with horses think their riding is not an important part of their lives. But this article, by virtue of being in the WSJ, shows it’s something that shouldn’t be dismissed. It pointed out that more than 75% of horse owners are women. We all know that at any given barn, way more than three-fourths of the people spending their time there are women, many of them riding horses they don’t personally own.

When I was a trainer and clinician, “mid-life” women riders were the group I especially focused on and worked with. Women in this demographic group just want to ride, and many of them either don’t want to compete or they want competition that’s centered more on fun than placings. Many of the women I worked with primarily wanted to explore the relationship they could have with the horse they rode. They valued the fact that being with their horse gave them time away from work and family obligations. And sometimes they wanted to find other “older” riders to explore the special life experiences and camaraderie that this group shares.

The biggest concern women in this group of riders had was safety. Many of them remarked that they were fearless when younger, but now they were more focused on riding in a discipline that was safer – for instance, dressage rather than jumping — and having a horse they could trust. They didn’t want the young, green broke horse or the troublesome horse they might have ridden when they were younger. They wanted a safe horse they could really build relationship with and feel safe riding. Far too often, I saw women buying horses they’d been told were safe, but the horses wound up being difficult, even to the point of injuring some of those women.

There are several steps you can take to make it more likely that the horse you buy will be the safe and trustworthy horse you want. First, consider where you are buying the horse. There are a lot of great people out there selling horses, but, just like in every other aspect of life, there are also people who just want to make money. Other people need to get rid of a difficult horse they can’t afford to keep will resort to bending the truth, lying, or simply not disclosing issues in order to do so.trail ride horse equine law attorney older rider

One way to protect yourself is to ask a thorough list of questions instead of just relying on someone to tell you things. Doing so allows you to get information crucial to you, sometimes information that even an honest seller may not think is important. Some of those questions include: Has the horse ever bucked? If so, why and when? Has the horse ever bolted? What circumstances surrounded that incident and did it happen more than once? After all, a seller younger than 30 who’s been riding the horse in question may not think it’s a big deal if the horse has bolted – but that might matter very much to you.

Even if you ask all the right questions, another important way to protect yourself is to have a written purchase and sales contract, which I will explain more in future blogs. An important thing to remember is that the cost to purchase the horse is just a small amount of what a horse costs.  There are recurring fees that include feed, boarding, vet, and farrier, and even lesson or training costs.  A well-written and understood contract may be the difference between you having a horse you can enjoy and one that injures you.  Without a good purchase and sales contract, you may even find yourself with an unrideable horse you have to pay a lot of money to maintain — to the point that you can’t afford to buy a second horse you can ride.

Want a list of questions to take with you when you look at a potential new horse? I’ll be posting some of the most important ones to ask – not just for the sake of safety but also peace of mind and finding just the right fit – in a future post.

This blog post is for educational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Seek an attorney’s advice for your specific situation.