Connecticut Governor Files Legislation to Counter Impact of “Horses Are Vicious” Court Decision

A sign of the times? Connecticut horse owners have been baffled by a court ruling last fall that declared horses as an inherently vicious and dangerous species. That ruling opened horse owner to potential insurance and legal problems. John F. Braun photo.

Connecticut Governor Daniel P. Malloy announced on Tuesday that he has introduced legislation designed to protect horse owners and the state’s associated agriculture industry by clarifying into law that domesticated horses are not wild animals and as such as are not “inherently dangerous.”

The proposal, currently being considered by the General Assembly’s Environment Committee, stems from a 2012 Appellate Court decision, which found as a practical matter that all horses are wild. That ruling, currently being appealed to the state Supreme Court, could negatively impact thousands of horse owners and associated farmers in Connecticut.

Significantly higher insurance premiums or even the possibility of becoming uninsurable are possible consequences of the court decision.

Under the Governor’s proposed legislation, the law would clarify that civil cases involving horses who cause personal injury should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

“Connecticut’s agriculture sector contributes $3.5 billion to our economy, accounts for about 28,000 jobs in our state, and is an industry with tremendous growth potential,” Governor Malloy said in a press release. “This legislation will protect owners of domesticated horses from a precedent-setting state court decision that unfortunately used too large of a brush to paint an entire species of animals as wild, threatens an industry, and would treat these owners unlike any other state in the nation.”

Governor Malloy

The legislation, House Bill 5044, An Act Concerning Domesticated Horses, may be read or downloaded at this link.

Connecticut has been known as the state with the most horses per square mile. The Connecticut Horse Council has published a background document, Connecticut’s “Vicious Horses”, which is available for download and explains the previous court rulings.

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