Crazy Horses? Exploring the risk to spectators at Equestrian events

Olivia Goodrich

Abstract


In addition to the risks common to other sporting competitions, equestrian events also have potential risks for visitors due to the inherent unpredictability of the horses being displayed. They are by nature, flight animals which may mean that in the event of an incident during a race or competition, a horse might panic and encroach into the spectator area. If an injury subsequently occurs as a result of this, an injured spectator may be prohibited from recovering damages depending on their purpose within that area and the degree to which they have consented to the risk.

This paper will explore the rationale behind when, where and how this consent has occurred, looking particularly at where the risks may be exacerbated due to the inexperience of the participants, spectators and the event organisers; the paper will examine whether the recent Northern Ireland negligence case of Browning v. Odyssey Trust Company Ltd & Belfast Giants 2008 Ltd has implications for spectator safety and will conclude by arguing that three areas in particular (the liabilities towards spectators, media personnel and officials) merit further research and clarity.

Keywords: Equestrian, Event Management, Safety, Spectator, Animals Act 1971, Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957


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