Highlights from 2011 National Conference on Equine Law

This year's National Conference on Equine Law, held May 4-5, 2011 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Lexington, Kentucky, hosted 158 lawyers and other horse-industry participants from 25 different states and two continents.

Hosted by the University of Kentucky Continuing Legal Education, the National Conference on Equine Law has been held in Lexington, Kentucky during Kentucky Derby week for the past 26 years.

I was pleased to be invited back as a speaker this year at the Conference, and presented on a panel with Mary Fullington and George D. Smith on the topic of "Collection of Equine Judgments and Competing Equine Liens."

  • Frank Becker's popular annual equine law case update included Stanislav v. Papp, 2009 WL 2929772 (NY Sup 2009), aff'd 911 N.S.S.2d 60 (2010), which involved a personal injury lawsuit brought by a woman who met her date on Match.com, claiming that her date owed her a duty of care because he espoused horse expertise on his dating profile.  The court rejected the injured plaintiff's heightened duty arguments.  Becker's update also included Welk v. Simpkins, 2010 WL 4560015 (5th Cir. 2010), holding that in the dispute at issue between a horse owner and their trainer, the business relationship did not give rise to a fiduciary duty.
  • Julie Fershtman and April Nieshl did a thorough and practical presentation on "Liabilities for Injury to Horses and Risk Management Considerations."  They pointed out that state Equine Activity Liability Acts do not protect defendants in cases involving injury to horses.  Their seven key tips for equine bailment contracts include:   1) emergency authorization clauses; 2) pasture, attention & placement; 3) health disclosures of incoming horses; 4) maintenance programs; 5) emergency insurance contact info; 6) waiver/release of liability or “exculpatory language”; 7) indemnification clauses.
  • Holly Rudolph provided a well-prepared, concise overview of state recreational land use statutes and the exceptions to the Equine Activity Liability Acts in various states.
  • Jenny Workman provided innovative tips on how equine photographers can protect their work product.
  • Sonja Keating, Senior VP and General Counsel of the United States Equestrian Federation, and attorney Joe Terry reported on the many interesting legal issues that arose during the 2010 World Equestrian Games, held for the first time in the United States last year at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. 
  • Luc Schelstraete, a veteran equine attorney from the Netherlands who specializes in international horse sales, gave a hands-on explanation of the applicable laws and provided many helpful tips on importing horses to and exporting horses from Europe.

The material presented at this year's conference was very well-received, according to Kevin Bucknam, Director of the University of Kentucky CLE.  According to Bucknam, the written evaluation forms returned by attendees confirmed the quality of instruction, with 100% rating the conference either "Excellent" (91%) or "Good" (9%).

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Corinna - May 31, 2011 5:26 PM

thank you for the review! Nearly all the topics were fascinating. The thoroughbred auction process was mesmerizing- I was impressed with the incredible journey a foal takes from conception to sale date. And the copyright topic is one of those areas of the law where I am surprised it hasn't received more attention. You of course also did a great job, and I was so happy to meet you!

Alison - May 31, 2011 5:29 PM

My pleasure! I have been going to the conference for years, and I thought this year's was the best yet. It was very nice to meet you as well.

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