You have a full-time job, or you're a student. But you also have a horse in the barn. Wouldn't it be nice to make money from the horse? What if you offered riding lessons on the weekends or did some "moonlighting" as an instructor to generate extra cash? You may think your part-time business activities are a mere hobby, but the law might say quite the opposite.
When you accept money in exchange for providing a service, such as giving riding lessons, the law may regard you as a "professional." For example, of the 47 states with an equine activity liability law (as of October 2015), several of them define "equine professional" to include people who receive “compensation” for giving riding lessons. Georgia's Equine Activity Liability Act, for example, defines an "equine professional" in this manner:
“Equine professional” means a person engaged for compensation in:
- Instructing a participant or renting to a participant an equine for the purpose of riding, driving, or being a passenger upon the equine;
- Renting equipment or tack to a participant; or
- Examining or administering medical treatment to an equine as a veterinarian.
As can be seen, although Georgia’s law defines an "equine professional" to include people who engage in certain activities, such as lessons, "for compensation," the law nowhere requires that this "compensation" must come from full-time work. Consequently, instructors can review the applicable law(s), determine whether they include contract language and/or sign posting requirements, and evaluate whether those requirements must be followed.
Part-time riding instructors might assume that they need no extra liability insurance because they only give a few riding lessons a week. This can be a serious mistake. Homeowner’s insurance policies almost always exclude coverage when someone makes a claim in connection with a “business pursuit.” Part-time business owners, such as riding instructors, can discuss with their insurance agents whether they need any of these types of coverages:
- Commercial General Liability Insurance
- Equine Professional Liability Insurance
- Incidental business endorsement coverage
All equine business operators can benefit from properly worded and signed contracts. Part-time riding instructors, for example, can require everyone of legal age who enters their premises to sign a well-worded liability release (where allowed by law). And, as noted above, determine whether an applicable state equine activity liability act impacts contract language.