Sunday, July 11, 2010

Worth the risk

As our family has done a nice job proving over the last year, horses and the act of riding the wonderful beasts can sometimes be hazardous to your health. Life without them, however, is unthinkable--despite the risks, even despite the atrophy currently happening under the purple cast.

After my accident, I received a notice in the mail to call Kaiser to go over my accident to be sure no one else was liable. The conversation ended abruptly when I answered "yes" to the question, "Do you own the horse you fell off of?" but it got me thinking about trying to run a horse business in this day and age.

Unfortunately, people get hurt. Sometimes it is the businesses fault--bad or broken equipment, not matching horse and rider properly, or some other "hardware" failure--but I have to wonder if we've bent too far over backwards to protect people from themselves. What are we losing in the process?

Our friends at Slide Mountain Ranch have recently had to stop offering their own horses as trail mounts. It's just become too much risk for them to shoulder. You can visit with your own horses, which we intend to do when I'm healed. You can also use their wonderful bunk house as a hub for nearby adventures, like Yosemite National Park, or enjoy the quiet, rustic setting for itself. You can even pet their horses and rub their velvety noses. But you can't enjoy the same kind of fun and freestyle riding we were able to experience when we started--the very thing that got us hooked on horses in the first place.

Logically, I understand the insurance companies viewpoint. Sort of. Someone has to bear the responsibility for the costs associated with an accident, particularly medical. But part of me rebels against that on the fundamental grounds that I chose to get on that horse--no one forced me. Shouldn't the weight rest at least equally on me?

Learning to ride has been one of the single most rewarding things I've ever done, though obviously it is still a work in progress. There have been bumps along the road I would not have had with different horses. Would I trade my broken arm for an easier horse? Not in a million years.

The passion and the drive to get better was ignited on a trail ride at Slide Mountain Ranch over 5 years ago. Would I be enjoying this rich period in my life if it hadn't been for the chance I took then? Definitely not.

Is it all worth the risk? The itchy skin under the cast? The surety I'll set off alarms in the airports?

Heck, yeah. Every damn day.


The Equus Ink said...

That is too bad about Slide Mountain Ranch. But from a business perspective that makes sense. I just isn't worth it to risk it. Which stinks. All these legalities seem to get in the way of what horses and discovering horses can be about. Did you ever read about the "attractive nuisance law?" Check that one out!

I'm wondering though, I know you can get liability insurance, for example if your horse is being leased as a precaution, but what if you make the person sign a release for riding the specific horse?

I can't wait to see photos of you all riding at SMR! What fun it sounds like.

Jessica Boyd said...

Great comment, Keri, and I can't wait to show Bar cows! :)

That is a good question about liability/leasing--will have to follow up on that idea!

Unknown said...

I've noticed the number of trail riding places shutting down is increasing. Even here in Texas where we have pretty stern laws protecting equine operations.

Liability will end up wrapping us all in bubble wrap.

Jessica Boyd said...

Wow, even in Texas it's getting tough?

What if I don't want to be wrapped in bubble wrap??!!


Dave (aka Buckskins Rule) said...

Our litigious society at work. Too much energy is spent trying to protect people from themselves. Life without risk would be pretty boring.

My pet peeve on the "horses and safety" thing, are the self appointed helmet police. I have no heartache with those who choose to wear one. I just don't want there opinion forced upon me.