Written by Owen Thompson on July 13, 2016
The Horse Riding Safety Act is legislation unique to Ontario. It is important for those who run boarding stables, lesson barns, trail strings, or host horse shows, clinics, or other events where horses will be ridden to understand the application of this law.
The Horse Riding Safety Act was introduced primarily as a result of a horrific accident where a girl under the age of 18 fell off a horse and was dragged and killed at a public trail riding establishment. She was not wearing a helmet.
The primary goal of the Act is to require all owners or operators of a horseback riding establishments to ensure that any riders under the age of 18 wear an approved horseback riding safety helmet and footwear with a heel of at least 1.5 cm at all times when mounted, in addition to confirming that the horse is outfitted in properly fitting equipment.
All owners and operators of establishments like trail riding operations, lesson barns, and boarding barns must make sure children are wearing helmets, regardless of whether the horse is privately owned by the child (or their family, friend, or acquaintance) or if the establishment owns the horse. This is an important distinction that many stable owners or operators may overlook in their daily practice. If a client under the age of 18 is riding a horse on that owner or operator’s property, it is the responsibility of that owner or operator to ensure that a helmet and boots are worn and that the tack is safe and properly fitted. A barn owner or operator is not excused by saying that the horse was privately owned by a client.
Violating this law could result in a fine of up to $5,000.00. But even though legal ramifications should be enough to deter a stable owner or operator from violating the Horse Riding Safety Act, they should also consider the impact a seriously injured minor could have upon their reputation and business. Horseback riding is an inherently dangerous sport, and customers tend to put their trust in members of the industry with a good safety record and a reputation for safety in the community. Compliance with the Act encourages and promotes safety at every horseback riding establishment in Ontario.
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