A case of a horse-bitten boy has made its way all the up to Connecticut’s highest court to hear an appeal of a previous ruling that all horses are “innately vicious” animals, which has ranchers and horse owners in an outcry, reports The Associated Press on Sept. 23.
In 2006, a horse called “Scuppy” bit a boy in the face who was attempting to pet him. Court documents show the boy was at Glendale Farms in Milford, and when he moved to pet the horse “the animal stuck his neck out from behind a fence and bit the child on his right cheek, removing a large chunk of it.”
In rendering the decision last year, a lower court ruled that since horses are a “species naturally inclined to do mischief or be vicious,” Scuppy's owners were responsible for the injury and should have taken steps to restrain their horse, states the AP report.
In setting a precedent that all horses are “vicious” in nature, the court, perhaps unknowingly, has jeopardized the ability of a horse owner to insure an animal that is classified as untamable.
Horse owners and equine enthusiasts are now taking their case on appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court, asking that the lower court’s decision be rejected.
Doug Dubitsky, a lawyer who represents the side of horse businesses, said the ruling would severely impact the state's sizable horse industry.
“You could not pair children and horses – the core equestrian business nationwide that it's all about,” Dubitsky said.
Ironically, testimony at the time from the horse’s owner, Timothy Astriab, whose family owns the farm, contributed to the negative ruling regarding the nature of all equines.
Astriab testified that Scuppy was the same as all horses put in that circumstance, and acknowledged that if anyone were to put a finger or hand in front of the horse, it would bite.
“Significantly, Astriab acknowledged his concern that if someone made contact with Scuppy, whether to pet or feed him, they could get bit,” Judge Robin Wilson said last year.
“Cats have a tendency to scratch and horses have a tendency to bite, but the plaintiffs have failed to show, as they must, that the defendants were on notice that Scuppy specifically, and not horses generally, had a tendency to bite people or other horses,” Wilson ruled.