Alaska has two statutes that cover equine liability. One states that “livestock” are “unpredictable and inherently dangerous.”
AS § 09.65.145(a).
According to AS § 09.65.145(a), “a participant in livestock activity and assume the risk of injury or death caused by the livestock.” So, if you are a participant, you assume the risk of injury or death caused by livestock.
What is a participant?
A participant is:
a person, whether amateur or professional, who engages in a livestock activity or who is near or close to livestock, whether or not a fee is paid to participate in the livestock activity.
AS § 09.65.145(i)(6).
What is livestock?
Livestock is considered:
domestic cow, domestic bison, hog, sheep, goat, domestic musk-ox, yak, pig, legally possessed caribou, reindeer, domestic elk, rabbit, hamster, guinea pig, turkey, chicken, pheasant, peafowl, pigeon, horse, mule, donkey, camel, llama, alpaca, or a waterfowl that does not require a federal permit; “livestock” does not mean a dog or cat
AS § 09.65.145(i)(2) (emphasis added)
What does Alaska considered inherent risk?
…those dangers or conditions that are an integral part of a livestock activity, including
(A) the propensity of livestock to behave in ways that may result in injury to a person on or around livestock;
(B) the unpredictability of livestock’s reaction to sound, sudden movement, and unfamiliar objects or persons, or other animals;
(C) hazards or conditions unknown to a livestock activity sponsor;
(D) collisions with other livestock or objects;
(E) the potential of tack to become dislodged or move in ways that may result in injury to a person on or around a livestock activity; and
(F) the potential of a person to negligently engage in conduct that contributes to an injury or death during a livestock activity
AS § 09.65.145(i)(1)
Alaska also has another law that specifically addresses sports with inherent risks, including horseback riding. Under that law, AS § 09.65.290, “inherent risk” is under AS § 09.65.290(e)(1)
A “sports or recreational activity” is “those dangers or conditions that are characteristic of, intrinsic to, or an integral part of a sports or recreational activity”.
those dangers or conditions that are characteristic of, intrinsic to, or an integral part of a sports or recreational activity.” A sports activity is “means a commonly understood sporting activity, whether undertaken with or without permission, including baseball, softball, football, soccer, basketball, hockey, bungee jumping, parasailing, bicycling, hiking, swimming, skateboarding, horseback riding and other equine activity, dude ranching, mountain climbing, river floating, whitewater rafting, canoeing, kayaking, hunting, fishing, backcountry trips, mushing, backcountry or helicopter-assisted skiing, alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, snowboarding, telemarking, snow sliding, snowmobiling, off-road and all-terrain vehicle use.
AS § 09.65.290(e)(3)(A)
A person who participates in a sports or recreational activity assumes the inherent risks in that sports or recreational activity and is legally responsible for all injuries or death to the person or other persons and for all damage to property that results from the inherent risks in that sports or recreational activity.
AS § 09.65.290(a)
So, if you are participating in horseback riding, you assume the inherent risks in that sport. Additionally, if you are injured while riding, you assuming and are responsible for all injuries or death and all damage to property that results from the inherent risks.
The Alaska statute, like some others I’ve surveyed, does not have a provision regarding when a participant is not responsible. However, interpretation of the language seems to mean that the participant is only responsible when the damage, injuries, or death come from the inherent risks. This would seem to mean that something like an equine professional utilizing broken or dangerous tack or equipment or placing a rider on a horse entirely above his or her skill level is not covered by this statute.