This case involves an elderly man who suffered severe injuries after being kicked by a horse. The man was on a recreational horseback riding trip at a ranch in South Carolina with his wife. During the trip, the horse in front of the man became defiant and stopped obeying the commands of its rider. The horse kicked back, shattering the man’s kneecap. In spite of surgery and physical therapy, the man was unable to fully recover from the injuries. It was later discovered that the horse in question was known to have aggressive tendencies, but was put to ride because the trip was overbooked.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please explain your experience managing a ranch with regards to patron safety.
- 2. What are the proper steps and protocols that need to be followed in order to prevent accidents like this from taking place?
- 3. How would you determine if a horse's behavior is within reason that patrons can ride it?
Expert Witness Response E-159329
I have 30 years of experience as a back country wilderness horseback and pack trip guide and 16 years of experience as the president of a dude ranch. I put at least 1500 people on horses each year. I would be interested in hearing more about the history of the horse and the experience level of the rider. I would want to know if the horse had a history of excessive bucking or rearing, how old it was, and what the pattern of abuse was. It is standard to have all guests fill out a form that indicates their level of expertise and match the horses up accordingly. However, if a horse is known to buck or rear then it should never be paired with a guest. Horses typically have a two year training period where they are only ridden and trained by ranch personnel and this is done to prevent dangerous horses from being paired with guests.