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Connecticut Supreme Court Issues Ruling on "Vicious Horses" Case

The ruling stops short of classifying horses as inherently dangerous, but reinforces horse owners' responsibilities.

March 27, 2014

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This week, the state Supreme Court of Connecticut upheld a decision that classified horses as a dangerous species. The case centered around an incident in 2006 where a young boy was bit by a horse named Scuppy. Read more about that case here.

The Appellate Court decision that was upheld this week stated that horses are "naturally inclined to do mischief or be vicious." This wording was strongly opposed by supporters of the horse industry in Connecticut. Classifying horses as an inherently dangerous animal seemed to put public stables and riding academies at risk of becoming uninsurable.

However, in spite of the Supreme Court's ruling, four of the six justices stated that horses should not be universally classified as vicious. Instead, the decision on whether or not an individual equine is dangerous should be ruled on a case-by-case basis when those issues arise in the lower courts.

Legislation currently being considered by Connecticut's state assembly would provide additional protection for the state's horse industry. The bill states that any domesticated horse, pony, donkey or mule would not be considered vicious or dangerous under the law.

As for the 2006 case involving Scuppy, the Supreme Court send the case back to the Superior Court for further review.

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Connecticut Supreme Court Issues Ruling on "Vicious Horses" Case

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Reader Comments

Dana    Winchester Center, CT

4/17/2014 5:22:29 PM

Animals - much like people - all have different personalities. Some are calmer than others, some are a bit more high-strung. I have horses, dogs, cats, etc and grandchildren who love these animals. That being said, I teach my grandchildren emphatically that not all horses, dogs, cats, etc are like ours.....that they must respect each animal individually and that they should never approach or try to pet an animal they don't know without the express permission of the owner. I certainly feel bad for the young child who was injured, and am quite certain his father didn't understand the risk he might be putting his son in - but, again, you don't approach any animal you don't know without the owner's permission and/or presence. I do not believe that horses are inherently dangerous - they need to be trained, of course - just go to a therapeutic riding facility to witness the wonderful things that can happen between these majestic animals and special needs children.
Too often one bad experience can completely override hundreds and hundreds of good experiences - it is a sad commentary on today's litigious society.

Pat    Great Falls, MT

3/28/2014 7:52:40 PM

If you know your horse bites, just like a kicker, a horse that is known to bite should be "marked". Either a sign or some type of alert. Of course, any human can expect an attitude change around any animal. Human awareness is most important.

d    d, DE

3/28/2014 6:25:57 PM

d

Ellen    Madison, WI

3/28/2014 2:29:38 PM

Aren't all animals - and maybe even 2-year-old children - classifiable as vicious, then?

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