Insurance is an essential - not an optional extra
Horse riding can be a risky pastime but the biggest risk of all is skimping on insurance cover for horse and rider
Horse riding is a dangerous sport, yet many participants are failing to insure themselves and their animals in the case of an accident at home or in competition.
Eventing is statistically the riskiest equestrian sport, with activities such as hunter trials and hunting also high on the list.
However, horses are unpredictable creatures and even the simplest of accidents can result in injury, or worse.
"You could go two or three years without anything happening and it would seem like a waste of money," says Dale Jordan of Wexford Insurances.
"But then, if something does happen, it will be the best money spent."
As brokers for insurance companies such as FBD, Willis and Zurich, Wexford Insurances offers a wide range of policies to suit all types of horses and ponies, from racehorses to pony club.
One of the most popular packages is the Horseguard Policy which covers both horse and rider. For instance, to cover a six-year-old horse worth €5,000 for accident, illness or disease - and its rider up to €20,000 - costs approximately €300 per annum.
"Also there is no average clause for horses worth a lot of money so when people say they cannot afford premiums for horses worth €2-€3m, we offer them a cheaper option, a premium for a horse worth say €500,000, so in the event of it dying at least they will have some comeback," explains Mr Jordan.
A similar Horse & Rider package is available through Allianz.
"One of the bonuses of our many policies on offer is that you can also get comprehensive veterinary cover," says Allianz business development Executive Joe Campbell.
One of Wexford Insurance's biggest markets is hunting and the company provides public liability cover for many of the country's registered hunt clubs.
With the hunting season over, many enthusiasts are enjoying the glut of hunter trials taking place nationwide, but many riders are participating without insurance cover.
Ken Reilly, who has run the Johnstown Hunt Run in Co Meath for the past 25 years, is all too aware of the work that goes into organising hunt events and he stresses that insurance is high on the list of priorities.
"Our public liability cover is through the local hunt, and is one of the first things we look at when running this event," he says.
"As far as I am aware most cross-country rides I know of are also covered through hunts, but these would mostly be registered packs."
Public liability is there to cover the landowner, but each rider is expected to have their own equine insurance should their horse cause an accident, and then additional cover in the case of personal injury.
In the case of most sponsored rides, a waiver form is presented to riders before taking part.
Therefore riders are made aware that they take part entirely at their own risk.
"A hunt cannot be expected cover a rider if say their horse decides to kick a car. If that was the case we could not afford to run a hunt," says Imelda O'Donnell of the Hunting Association of Ireland (HAI).
All hunts run under the HAI umbrella must take out their own public liability insurance, and this is one of the stipulations of registration.
In the case of unregistered hunts and hunt clubs, the fact that they are unregulated makes issues such as insurance more difficult to oversee.
As one hunting enthusiast noted: "So many call themselves hunts, when it fact they are nothing of the sort, and don't even use hounds.
"By crossing land also used by registered hunts they destroy it for those who pay large subscriptions every year. They give true hunting a bad name."
With the number of unregistered hunts in Ireland increasing, many believe it is time that they were brought under control through legislation to safeguard fox-hunting in Ireland.
Outside of the hunting sphere, the Show Jumping Association of Ireland offers personal accident cover through its membership, as does the Association of Irish Riding Clubs.
However, when it comes to showing horses, the Irish Shows Association clearly states that it is up to individuals to add in such activities as showing in-hand or under saddle to their existing policies before the busy show season gets underway.
Ultimately, it is clear that horse owners need to be responsible.
It is up to each and every one of us to ensure our horse's health and safety, and our own, every time we sit in the saddle.
For Stories Like This and More
Download the Free Farming Independent App