It’s official: Horses in Connecticut are no longer considered naturally mischievous or vicious in the eyes of the law.
State Governor Dannel Malloy has signed a new state law that protects the owners and handlers of domesticated horses from the consequences of a recent court ruling in a case in which a horse bit a boy. The new legislation makes it clear in state statute that the animals do not possess a “naturally mischievous or vicious propensity”.
He put his signature to the law passed by the state legislature at a special ceremony on Tuesday at Locket’s Meadow Farm in Bethany with farmers and other stakeholders from the state’s agricultural community.
“Connecticut has a large population of horse owners and handlers, and as such, I’m happy to sign this legislation so that we can ensure their operations can continue without possible negative consequences,” Malloy said.
The governor introduced the legislation earlier this year in response to rulings by the state Appellate and Supreme Courts, which in practice may have resulted in increased insurance rates for horse owners and handlers, and would have caused a significant financial hardship for many farmers and horse owners across the state.
The bill was adopted unanimously in both the House and the Senate.
State agriculture commissioner Steven Reviczky said the law would provide meaningful protection for the equine sector in the state and limit the potential damage and unintended consequences of the court’s decision.
Agriculture contributes about $US3.5 billion annually to the state’s economy and accounts for 28,000 jobs.
A recent US Department of Agriculture report showed that the number of farms in the state increased by 22 percent over the last five years, leading all of New England in the growth rate. This comes despite an overall decline in farm numbers nationally.
Locket’s Meadow Farm in Bethany, where the signing ceremony took place, is a sanctuary for at-risk farm animals, many of which have been rescued from slaughter, neglect or abuse.
The farm’s horses and ponies are used for a riding program, offering both traditional riding lessons as well as therapeutic riding for children and also adults with varying mental and physical challenges.