-- Posted by WelshFox Sep. 28, 2001
The yard I keep my horses on has had rubble (bricks, mud
with wire poking out etc.) dumped into the field where the
horses are grazing at the moment. They will not move the
horses to another field and so they are stuck grazing with the
Due to this having been dumped at the bottom of the field
where there water is, the horses are quite often grazing
around it. This rubble is, in theory, going to become
our outdoor school but at the moment it is in the field with a
digger and also an old tractor.
If one of my horses should injure themselves on this rubble,
where do I stand?
Am I admitting responsibility by letting my horses graze in
I really would like to move my horses out, but as they won't
let them change into another field and trying to find another
yard to take 3 horses is almost impossible, I am a bit stuck!!
There is no point in trying to get the other people on the
yard to rally together, so to speak, and all of us approach
the yard owners as no one else seems to give a damn and the
couple that do, won't speak to the yard owners. As the
owners have their own horses in the field too (5 of them with
one in foal) they're not going to worry about my horses when
they don't care about their own!
-- Posted by ammatthews
I would've thought if you have spoken to the yard owner, but
they've refused to move the horses then it is their
responsibility if one of the horses is injured. Might be worth
putting it into writing too. (obviously these thoughts are not
backed up by any legal knowledge!)
But you still want to make sure your horses are not injured.
I think even if this situation is resolved, you should
seriously try to find a new yard. Sounds like they do not care
enough about the horses.
-- Posted by JanetGeorge
The livery yard owner would certainly be liable for any
injury to your horse, although any award could be reduced by
your 'contributory negligence' (as in you knew the stuff was
there and that it might be harmful but allowed your horse to
It is a problem - but if it's any consolation, MOST horses are
quite sensible about avoiding hazards they KNOW are there.
But if the rubble, machinery etc are in a suitable
corner, would the owners agree to fence them off with some
-- Posted by WelshFox
Even though my horses are
insured, it will still cost me the £100 excess should I need
the vet. Although that's not the point as I don't want
any of mine injured in the first place.
It really is so difficult to find somewhere to move 3 horses
to. The only ones I can find will cost £60.00 per month
more than I am currently paying! I don't mind paying a
bit more but £60.00 extra is a lot of money.
-- Posted by issyhotten
Why not buy your own electric fence equipment, and block
off the dangerous obstacles?.
-- Posted by Cob Nut
If your horse should be injured on this rubble, you have a
strong case for arguing that the yard owners are liable to
compensate you for your loss. They have contracted to provide
suitable turnout and grazing for your horses, and your
argument will be that a field with this rubble in it does is
Your case will be much stronger, however, if you give them
notice (in writing, keeping a copy so that there can be no
argument about it later) stating that you do not consider this
arrangement to be safe or suitable and that you consider it to
be a breach of their contractual duty to provide adequate
turnout and grazing. This will also provide a safety net
against the risk (which I do not, as it happens, consider to
be all that great) of their being able to argue for a
reduction of any damages on the grounds of contributory
negligence on your part, as it would show that you had been
alert to the risk and had done everything in your power to
avert it. So much for legal theory. The danger with such a
strategy is that many people do not like receiving notices of
this kind, and it may provoke the reaction "If that's
your attitude, I don't think I want you on my yard"
accompanied by notice to leave the yard at the end of whatever
contractual notice period you have. This is a risk which you
will need to weigh in the balance when deciding what to do,
especially since you say that alternative livery is hard to
come by and more expensive.
Again, this is all very well, but it is addressed to what will
happen if your horse is injured. Prevention being better than
cure, I think there is much to be said for the suggestion that
you might wish to fence it off yourself. However, technically
speaking, erecting a fence on somebody else's lend (even land
which you are paying to graze your horse on under a livery
contract) is a trespass. There is nothing you could do to
prevent the livery yard owners taking your fence down
(although, provided you have told them that you are erecting a
fence and that the fencing belongs to you, and provided it is
of a temporary rather than a permanent character, they must
return the fencing to you and could in theory be prosecuted
for criminal damage or theft if they were to destroy or
dispose of it - another very high risk strategy, albeit very
A third alternative (again with a certain risk of being
branded a troublemaker and being given notice to leave) is to
inform the livery owners that you are of the opinion that
while there is this pile of rubble in the turnout paddock it
is unsafe, that they are therefore in breach of their
contractual duty to provide safe turnout, and that until they
fence it off or otherwise make it safe you will be reducing
the amount that you pay for livery to reflect the fact that
they are providing stabling, care and feed (or whatever it is)
but NOT safe turnout. This option carries a number of other
risks, however, and I do not think it is wise to pursue it
unless you are certain that the threat of a reduced income
will be sufficient to induce them to fence it off. The main
risks are the scope for disagreement as to how much of the
livery fee should be allocated to each component (unless you
get regular itemised bills with a full break down); and also
the fact that if the reduced payment WERE accepted by the livery owner, they would then be able to contend that you had
accepted the risks inherent in the unfenced rubble and
modified the contractual payment accordingly. This would then
mean that they probably COULD escape liability if your horse
were injured by the rubble.
You face a difficult choice, therefore. I think your best bet
is probably to tell them you think it is dangerous and ask
them to fence it off. If they say they do not see the problem,
ask if they have any objection to your fencing it off just to
keep your mind at rest. If they have a problem with this, then
I really think you should be looking for another yard if you
can possibly afford to do so. If you find a suitable one, you
will at least have an ace up your sleeve: rather than being
tied in to a minimum notice period, you will be able to say
that the livery yard owners are in breach of contract by not
providing safe turnout, and that you accept this breach as
bringing the livery contract to an end. This will enable you
simply to walk away from the yard without any obligation to
give any contractual payment in lieu of notice, because there
will be no contract under which such an obligation could
arise. Again, however, it is not 100% certain that a judge
would see it this way if the livery yard owner were to sue for
a contractual payment in lieu of notice, especially if you
have not made your move quickly. He may take the view that by
not objecting to the breach immediately you have acquiesced in
the breach, and that if you wished to rely upon the breach as
terminating the contract you should have done so immediately.
So, several options, none of them ideal. If you decide to
pursue any which might lead to confrontation, I would suggest
that you start by taking some photographs showing the rubble
and the things in it which you think constitute a hazard to
the horses, so that there is a permanent record after the
school has been laid.
-- Posted by WelshFox
Thank you all for your replies, Cob Nut especially.
I think I am really going to have look hard for another yard.
I know there is one that I could move my lot to, which
would cost 30.00 per month extra. The only thing with
this yard is that the horses have to be stabled at night
during the winter and my Section D hates to be stabled and
generally climbs out!!!
I will take some photo's this weekend of the rubble. I
would love to be able to fence it off but it is a huge field
and the water supply is behind the rubble. If I fence
off the whole of the rubble area then I am fencing off the
only water supply in the field.
The horses are climbing on it and over it. When I raised
concerns, especially about my TB who cuts himself whenever he
looks at something sharp, let alone actually stands on it, I
was told that there were lots of TB's in the field and they
were all fine and the rubble is of no threat to them.
-- Posted by Cob Nut
One further point, Welsh Fox, which I ought to have made in
my earlier posting. If it comes to a confrontation with the
yard owner, who clearly does not consider the rubble to be a
danger to the horses, then you need to bear in mind that none
of my suggested remedies will stand up if, at the end of the day, the
District Judge does not agree with you that it is
dangerous. In these circumstances he would say that there has
been no breach of contract and you must fulfil your side of
Judges being mere humans, and human nature being what it is, I
fear that the "QED kneejerk" may come into play.
That is, while no horse has yet been injured by the rubble,
the balance is probably tipped in favour of the yard owner
(unless it is blatantly and obviously hazardous even to the
most casual observer): the balance will only tip firmly in
your favour once a horse has actually been injured on it.
Depressing, I know, but that is often the way the world works,
even in legal disputes.