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State High Court Hears Horse Arguments

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File image of a horse at the University of Connecticut. Photo by WTIC's Matt Dwyer.

File image of a horse at the University of Connecticut. Photo by WTIC’s Matt Dwyer.

A case argued before the state supreme court today touched on how likely horses are to bite people, and what kind of precautions horse owners must take to protect themselves against a lawsuit.

The gallery was full of horse enthusiasts who say the animals should not be legally considered vicious.

At one point, a marshal scolded one woman in the gallery for blurting out loud responses to some of the arguments between lawyers.

Attorney Hugh Hughes represents the family of a little boy who was bitten by a horse at a Milford farm in 2006.

“The plaintiff’s claim on appeal is that we can provide any evidence of foreseeability as long as it proves the harm was foreseeable,” Hughes said. “That includes what under the specific facts and circumstances of the case horses would typically do.”

Hughes argues that the court should consider how likely horses are to bite, and in that light decide if the farm took the proper precautions.

He says the farm should have installed a gate to keep visitors away from the horses, put up more warning signs, and had employees keep visitors away from the horses.

But an attorney for the farm where the boy was bitten, Steven Seligman, argued that requiring more signs to warn everybody about everything warns no one.

Lower Connecticut River Valley Horseman’s Club president Melissa Evarts was in the gallery.  Evarts says horses should not be legally classified as vicious animals.

“I like the share the culture of the horses,” Evarts said. “My neighbors let me do that with their horses when I was a little girl, and it is something that is an important part of owning animals to me.”

The horse owners are worried that their insurance premiums might increase, if the court were to find that the animals can be legally considered vicious.

The state high court will issue a decision later.

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