Groups push for legislation to cut horsemen's liability


January 24, 1993|By MUPHEN WHITNEY

If thousands of horsemen have their way, Maryland will be the 11th state to pass legislation limiting horsemen's liability when engaging in horse-related activities.

"The [Equine Activities Limited Liabilities Act] bill has not been introduced yet this legislative session," said Gene Freeze of the Maryland Horsemen's Development Group. "We are working on getting a sponsor and we are waiting for data from the University of Maryland's equine economic impact study. There is a lot of work still left to do, so this bill may not be introduced until 1994."

Freeze, addressing the Carroll County Equestrian Council's monthly educational seminar at the Ag Center in Westminster last week, said that the current bill has been changed to reflect concerns, which prompted a similar bill's defeat.

"We used the Colorado legislation passed in 1990 as our model," he said. "The Colorado model is the best. This legislation will not limit anyone's ability or right to sue.

"All it does is acknowledge the inherent risks in dealing with horses and it protects anyone who offers horse activities from frivolous lawsuits."

Anecdotal evidence abounds concerning people who no longer offer lessons or hack-stable rides because of rising liability insurance costs.

Freeze said insurance companies will view this legislation favorably and that it should have a positive effect on liability rates in Maryland.

NTC The legislation has garnered support from several areas of the horse industry in Maryland. Maryland Horsemen's Business Development Group co-chairman Barbara Price has been tracking the petitions and response cards circulated by the group.

"We have had a great response from every county in the state -- from Anne Arundel to Wicomico," Price said. "Montgomery has given us the most feedback followed by Baltimore County, Howard, Prince George's, Carroll and Frederick."

All tack stores and horse organizations have petitions to circulate and response cards to be sent to members of the Maryland Assembly and Senate.

"We need everyone's help on this issue," said Freeze. "In turn, this legislation will benefit every horseman in the state, whether they are an amateur or a professional, a breeder, trainer or horse show enthusiast."

Catch horse fever

The Catch Horse Fever event, which was postponed because of inclement weather two weeks ago, has been rescheduled for Feb. 20. Additional registrations will be accepted for the new date, said organizer Bob Shirley. For more information, call Shirley at (410) 848-4611.

Meeting with trail riders

If you are dreaming about being out on the trails with your horse while sitting in front of the fireplace on these bone-chilling evenings, make plans to attend Saturday's Trail Riders of Today quarterly meeting. The meeting, at 6 p.m. at the Damascus Education Center, is open to all horse people interested in trail riding and helping to preserve Maryland's trail systems.

Party for horsemen

The Maryland 4-H Foundation is planning the seventh annual Maryland Horsemen's Party sponsored by the Maryland Horse Council for the benefit of the Sallie Robertson Memorial 4-H Endowment Fund.

Circuit City has donated a VCR to be raffled, and the sponsors are soliciting items for the auction. If you would like to make a donation, call Thomas Busch at (301) 422-7803 or Hank Shirley at (410) 848-3192.

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