Thursday, May 21, 2020

COVID-19 Guidance for Minnesota's Horse Industry

The COVID-19 pandemic's disruption to life as usual has had a paralyzing effect on event planners in the horse industry. Boarding stable owners, trainers, riding instructors, horse show and rodeo planners need clarity. Uncertainty reigns, both in how to interpret current legal requirements and how to develop a plan for reopening so that participants are reassured of safety measures.

As General Counsel for the Minnesota Horse Council and its affiliated nonprofits, I have drafted a Best Practices guide for organizers of equestrian events. This document is intended to help organizers develop a plan for limiting the spread of coronavirus at equestrian activities and sporting events as they are allowed to resume. I also served on a team of professionals led by the University of Minnesota Extension to provide guidance to horse and stable owners about caring for equines under applicable Executive Orders while limiting human exposure to the novel coronavirus.

To learn about the latest Executive Orders and subscribe to updates, visit the State of Minnesota's COVID-19 response site led by the Office of the Minnesota Governor at

To view current information about permissible outdoor activities and recreation, visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) COVID-19- Response web site.

Here is a link to our State's current timeline of reopening in Minnesota. Be well and #StaySafeMN!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Update from the Capitol: Is your stable in the business of "Agritourism?" (Hint: answer YES)

A bipartisan bill making its way through the Legislature this session would grant immunity from liability for the inherent risks of "agritourism" activities.

So, what's agritourism?

According to SF 152 (companion House file 216), agritourism means: 

"activity carried out on a farm or ranch that allows organizations or members of the general public, for recreational, entertainment, charitable, or educational purposes, to view, enjoy, or participate in rural activities, including, but not limited to: farming; viticulture; winemaking; ranching; and historical, cultural, farm stay, gleaning, harvest-your-own, or natural activities and attractions. An activity is an agritourism activity whether or not the participant pays to participate in the activity."

I underlined that last sentence because it's important.  Both for-profit and non-profit sponsors of agritourism activities would be immune from liability for accidents, injuries, or death arising from the inherent dangers of agritourism activities—including livestock activities.

Sound familiar?

Under current law, Minn. Stat. § 604A.12 immunizes only nonprofit sponsors of livestock activities.  604A.12 was passed back in 1994.  It is a well written law in which Minnesota officially recognizes the inherent risks of livestock activities.  Those risks are defined here.  But, for political reasons, Minnesota has always applied this immunity only to nonprofits.

On behalf of the Minnesota Horse Council, and with the help of Minnesota's horseman Dan Ramberg who got 604A.12 passed in 1994, I have tried since 2009 to get the word "nonprofit" deleted.  Now is our chance to bring Minnesota in line with at least 45 other states that offer immunity for livestock or equestrian activities, regardless whether their sponsor is a nonprofit.

I have been in contact with the agritourism bill's sponsors in the House and Senate.  Please contact your local Senator and Representative to encourage them to support SF 152 and HF 216... with the additional amendment of Minn. Stat. § 604A.12 to —finally!— eliminate its exclusive applicability to nonprofits.

Friday, April 24, 2015

2015 MN Horse Expo Presentations: Legal tools to survive tough times

I'll be back at the Minnesota Horse Expo this weekend with daily presentations about how to use legal tools to survive tough times in the horse industry.

Presentations will be in the DNR East Room:

  • 5:00pm Friday, April 24
  • 11:00am Saturday, April 25
  • 12:00pm Sunday, April 26

Be sure to stop by and visit me at my table for Eklund Law in the Coliseum across from the Minnesota Horse Council's display.

Don't miss the 2015 Minnesota Horse Expo!