Florida Equine Laws
West's Florida Statutes Annotated. Title XLV. Torts (Chapters 766-774). Chapter 773. Equine Activities.
Citation: FL ST § 773.01 - 773.06
Citation: West's F. S. A. § 773.01 - 773.06
Last Checked by Web Center Staff: 12/2012
Summary: This Florida statute provides that an equine activity sponsor, an equine professional, or any other person shall not be liable for an injury to or the death of a participant resulting from the inherent risks of equine activities. The definitions for participant, equine professional, and what constitutes an "inherent risk" are provided. Liability will not be limited by statute, however, where the equine professional or sponsor knew the tack or equipment was faulty, failed to make reasonable and prudent efforts to determine the ability of the participant to engage safely in the equine activity, owns or is otherwise in lawful possession of the land or facilities where the injury is attributable to a known dangerous latent condition, commits an act or omission that constitutes willful or wanton disregard for the safety of the participant, or intentionally injures the participant. Posting of warning signs alerting participants to the limitation of liability by law is also required.
Statute in Full:
773.02. General provisions
773.03. Limitation on liability for equine activity; exceptions
773.04. Posting and notification
773.05. Limitation on liability of persons making land available to public for recreational purposes
773.06. Helmet requirements; penalties
As used in ss. 773.01-773.05:
(1) "Engages in an equine activity" means riding, training, assisting in veterinary treatment of, driving, or being a passenger upon an equine, whether mounted or unmounted, visiting or touring or utilizing an equine facility as part of an organized event or activity, or any person assisting a participant or show management. The term "engages in an equine activity" does not include being a spectator at an equine activity, except in cases where a spectator places himself or herself in an unauthorized area.
(2) "Equine" means a horse, pony, mule, or donkey.
(3) "Equine activity" means:
(a) Equine shows, fairs, competitions, performances, or parades that involve any or all breeds of equines and any of the equine disciplines including, but not limited to, dressage, hunter and jumper horse shows, grand prix jumping, three-day events, combined training, rodeos, riding, driving, pulling, cutting, polo, steeplechasing, English and western performance riding, endurance trail riding, gymkhana games, and hunting.
(b) Equine training or teaching activities or both.
(c) Boarding, including normal daily care of an equine.
(d) Riding, inspecting, or evaluating an equine belonging to another by a purchaser or an agent, whether or not the owner has received monetary consideration or other thing of value for the use of the equine or is permitting a prospective purchaser to ride, inspect, or evaluate it.
(e) Rides, trips, hunts, or other equine activities of any type, no matter how informal or impromptu, that are sponsored by an equine activity sponsor.
(f) Placing or replacing horseshoes or hoof trimming on an equine.
(g) Providing or assisting in veterinary treatment.
(4) "Equine activity sponsor" means an individual, group, club, partnership, or corporation, whether or not the sponsor is operating for profit or nonprofit, which sponsors, organizes, or provides the facilities for an equine activity, including, but not limited to: pony clubs, 4-H clubs, hunt clubs, riding clubs, school and college-sponsored classes, programs, and activities, therapeutic riding programs, stable and farm owners and operators, instructors, and promoters of equine facilities, including, but not limited to, farms, stables, clubhouses, pony ride strings, fairs, and arenas at which the activity is held.
(5) "Equine professional" means a person engaged for compensation:
(a) In instructing a participant or renting to a participant an equine for the purpose of riding, driving, or being a passenger upon the equine;
(b) In renting equipment or tack to a participant;
(c) To provide daily care of horses boarded at an equine facility; or
(d) To train an equine.
(6) "Inherent risks of equine activities" means those dangers or conditions which are an integral part of equine activities, including, but not limited to:
(a) The propensity of equines to behave in ways that may result in injury, harm, or death to persons on or around them.
(b) The unpredictability of an equine's reaction to such things as sounds, sudden movement, and unfamiliar objects, persons, or other animals.
(c) Certain hazards such as surface and subsurface conditions.
(d) Collisions with other equines or objects.
(e) The potential of a participant to act in a negligent manner that may contribute to injury to the participant or others, such as failing to maintain control over the animal or not acting within his or her ability.
(7) "Participant" means any person, whether amateur or professional, who engages in or any equine that participates in an equine activity, whether or not a fee is paid to participate in the equine activity.
Except as provided in s. 773.03, an equine activity sponsor, an equine professional, or any other person, which shall include a corporation or partnership, shall not be liable for an injury to or the death of a participant resulting from the inherent risks of equine activities and, except as provided in s. 773.03, no participant nor any participant's representative shall have any claim against or recover from any equine activity sponsor, equine professional, or any other person for injury, loss, damage, or death of the participant resulting from any of the inherent risks of equine activities.
(1) This section applies to the horseracing industry as defined in chapter 550.
(2) Nothing in s. 773.02 shall prevent or limit the liability of an equine activity sponsor, an equine professional, or any other person if the equine activity sponsor, equine professional, or person:
(a) Provided the equipment or tack, and knew or should have known that the equipment or tack was faulty, and it was so faulty as to be totally or partially responsible for the injury;
(b) Provided the equine and failed to make reasonable and prudent efforts to determine the ability of the participant to engage safely in the equine activity, or to determine the ability of the participant to safely manage the particular equine based on the participant's representation of his or her ability;
(c) Owns, leases, rents, has authorized use of, or is otherwise in lawful possession and control of the land or facilities upon which the participant was injured, and the injury was due totally or in part, to a dangerous latent condition which was known to the equine activity sponsor, equine professional, or person and failed to post warning signs;
(d) Commits an act or omission that a reasonably prudent person would not have done or omitted under the same or similar circumstances or that constitutes willful or wanton disregard for the safety of the participant, which act or omission was a proximate cause of the injury; or
(e) Intentionally injures the participant.
(1) Every equine activity sponsor and equine professional shall:
(a) Post and maintain one or more signs which contain the warning notice specified in subsection (2). These signs shall be placed in a clearly visible location near to where the equine activity begins. The warning notice specified in subsection (2) shall appear on the sign in black letters, with each letter to be a minimum of 1 inch in height, with sufficient color contrast to be clearly distinguishable.
(b) Give the participant a written document which the participant shall sign with the warning notice specified in subsection (2) clearly printed on it. Said written document may be used in lieu of posting the warning on the site of the equine activity sponsor's or equine professional's facility, and shall be given to any participant in an equine event not on the location of the equine activity sponsor's or equine professional's facility.
(2) The signs and document described in subsection (1) shall contain the following warning notice:
Under Florida law, an equine activity sponsor or equine professional is not liable for an injury to, or the death of, a participant in equine activities resulting from the inherent risks of equine activities.
Nothing in ss. 773.01-773.05 shall be construed to limit in any way the limitation of liability granted to private citizens who allow the public to use their land for recreational purposes, as provided in s. 375.251.
(1) As used in this section, the term “equine” has the same meaning as provided in s. 773.01.
(2) A child who is younger than 16 years of age must wear a helmet that meets the current applicable standards of the American Society of Testing and Materials for protective headgear used in horseback riding and that is properly fitted and fastened securely upon the child's head by a strap when the child is riding an equine upon:
(a) A public roadway or right-of-way;
(b) A public equestrian trail, public recreational trail, public park or preserve, or public school site; or
(c) Any other publicly owned or controlled property.
(3) A trainer, instructor, supervisor, or other person may not knowingly rent or lease an equine to be ridden by a child younger than 16 years of age unless the child possesses a helmet meeting the requirements of this section or the trainer, instructor, supervisor, or other person renting or leasing the equine supplies the child with a helmet meeting the standards of this section.
(4) A parent or guardian of a child younger than 16 years of age may not authorize or knowingly permit the child to violate this section.
(5) A person who violates subsection (3) or subsection (4) commits a noncriminal violation, punishable as provided in s. 775.083.
(6) This section does not apply to a child younger than 16 years of age who is riding an equine when the child is:
(a) Practicing for, riding to or from, or competing or performing in shows or events, including, but not limited to, rodeos and parades, where helmets are not historically a part of the show or event;
(b) Riding on privately owned land even if the land is occasionally separated by a public road or right-of-way that must be crossed; or
(c) Engaged in an agricultural practice or pursuit.