Part of a series of emails to our exhibitors in an effort to provide helpful information about their interaction with the show office and other staff at the show. If you have a particular question you would like addressed, please feel free to make a suggestion. Please note that every effort is made to ensure that all rule citations are current and correct as of the publishing date, however, USEF and other organizations continuously make rule changes throughout the year and with each new year.
2013 March Newsletter
Should Banana Joe be at the horse show?
Surely Sapphire would be unwelcome
at Westminster Kennel Show.
We understand that many horse people are also dog people. If a dog is socialized, properly secured, and closely monitored, it is welcome at every RMI horse show. On behalf of John and Pam Rush, we want to go on record that we like dogs. We like dogs that are owned by responsible and considerate owners. We do not believe the problem at horse shows is caused by the dog. It is caused by a small number of irresponsible and inconsiderate dog owners.
There is a clear directive that any dog at a USEF competition must be on a leash. "Dogs are not permitted to be loose on competition grounds and must be on a leash or otherwise contained. Individuals must not lead dogs on a leash while mounted. Dog owners are solely responsible for any damages, claims, losses or actions resulting from their dogs' behaviors. Dog owners failing to comply with this rule may be subject to penalty under Chapters 6 and 7, as well as issuance of warning cards." GR 1301.6
But some people think there is a special exemption for their dog. Some people think if their dog is on a leash but the leash is not attached to anything, that satisfies the requirement. Some people think that if their dog is left back at the tack room, that satisfies the requirement. Loose dogs are unacceptable at horse shows; dogs on lungeline-length leashes are unacceptable at horse shows, dogs left unsecured back at the barn are unacceptable at horse shows.
Dogs wander into the path of horses and into show rings. Dogs bite people. Dogs argue with other dogs. Dogs pee on things. Dogs defecate wherever the mood strikes them. We realize all of these things can happen with a dog on a leash, but it is far less likely and the intensity of the behavior is usually curtailed.
According to the Insurance Information Institute about one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims are a result of dog bites.(1) The average cost of dog bite claims in 2010 was $26,000.(2) Negligence laws impose liability on owners of dogs which cause damage where the owner was unreasonably careless, whether the damge was caused by a dog bite or otherwise. Ignoring a clear directive from the USEF that dogs must be on a leash and owners are responsible for any claims would in most jurisdictions be negligence per se. Even if a dog owner wins a lawsuit, the lawsuit could cost thousands and thousands of dollars. "And the greater a person's assets, the more potentially is at risk.(3)"
So if being considerate is not enough incentive for keeping a dog on a leash at USEF competitions, maybe the exposure to monetary liability will remind every dog owner that it is not a suggestion, it is a rule.
We understand that 1% of the dog owners cause 99% of the problem. But if exhibitors support management's efforts to keep dogs properly leashed, the unpleasant incidents that occur at horse shows can be greatly reduced. PLEASE be a responsible owner. Please use peer pressure to cause your trainer, your groom, your friend to KEEP THEIR DOG ON A LEASH.
1. Insurance Information Institute. Lawsuits Bite: Irresponsible Dog Owners Endanger Others - And Their Assets. www.iii.org. Insurance Information Institute, 11 May 2011. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.