American Equestrian Alliance Safety Group Guidelines


Boarding, Training & Breeding Stables

  1. Hold harmless and/or liability release agreements must be obtained from all boarders and riders. 
  2. Stable rules and emergency numbers should be posted in prominent places throughout the stable area.  Most states have equine liability laws.  Most of those laws have specific wording for warning postings and contracts.  
  3. Evidence of liability insurance should be obtained from independent contractors or anyone using the facility.  
  4. Riding arenas and areas should be well maintained, clear of debris and obstacles.  
  5. Arenas and schooling corrals should be adequate in size to accommodate the maximum number of riders that will be using the facility at any one time.
  6. Premises should be fenced with design and materials required for horse farms.  Fence should be well constructed and in good repair.  The fence should be at least 4 feet high with " horse proof " gate latches and difficult for children to open.  
  7. Barn isles and stalls must be free of debris and obstacles.  Floors should be sufficiently rough to avoid slipping when wet, Stall latches should be " horse proof " and difficult for children to open. Horses should be hand led in and out of barn.  No mounting, dismounting or hacking in the barn isle. 
  8. Rails on fencing used for outside riding arenas should be attached inside the posts.  More resistance when pushed against.  
  9. No smoking in barns or in the vicinity of stored hay or feed.

Riding Instruction

  1. AEA does not require designated riding instructor certification at this time.   AEA does require that the instructor be highly experienced in horse care, stable management and riding instruction.

2.     All riding instruction must take place in an enclosed arena unless special purpose such as trail riding in which event trail ride regulations will apply.

3.     All students must be offer protective headgear.  Headgear is mandatory for hazardous equine riding activities such polo, hunter/jumper, vaulting, steeplechase, etc.

4.     All riders will be equipped with riding boots, paddock shoes or foot wear with adequate heel for riding.

5.     All students will sign AEA approved acknowledgment of risk form before taking lessons.

6.     All tack and equipment must be in good condition and suited for discipline being taught.


Pony Rides

1.     Ponies should be at least 4 1/2 years old, trained, desensitized with a gentle disposition. 

2.     No stallions or mares in season can be used in pony ride operations.

3.    All pony rides must be given in a fenced enclosure (portable corral or arena) capable of containing a full size horse.  The most suitable portable fencing is welded pipe or gate panels.  Fencing should be free from sharp edges or projections and all staking should be clearly marked with colored tape.


5.   Child must be provided with SEI ASTM Standard protective headgear.

6.     A pony saddle must be used on a quiet, reliable animal.   Saddles, tack, lead lines and equipment must be inspected constantly and be of durable, high quality construction.

7.     It is not desirable to use reins and a bit for pony ride operations.  Ponies are best led with a caveson or strong halter with an obedience chain over the nose.  Side reins are not to be used.

8.     Pony size is defined as 56" or less at the withers.  Larger horse should not be used for pony rides.

9.     Minimum child age is 3 years old but size will be determined by the individual operator using good judgment and common sense.  The child should be capable of sitting in the saddle without support.

10.  Only Staff members, not parents, must supervise each child while mounting, leading and dismounting from pony.  Parents, Guardians or other care givers should not act as handlers or leaders of the pony rides.

11.  Always check the girth for tightness with each rider.



 Petting Zoo

1.     Hand washing stations must be used to prevent transmission of bacteria and communicable disease.  To reduce the chance of disease transmission, hand washing stations sufficient to accommodate the maximum anticipated attendance must be provided. The stations will include the appropriate number of anti-bacterial liquid soap dispensers and a water source or anti-bacterial hand-wipes. If soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers [or anti-bacterial hand wipes] may be provided but this is a less preferable option. Signage which clearly explains the safety reasons for hand washing shall be clearly posted near the hand washing stations and near the exit.

2.     Animals must be in fenced enclosure.

3.     No large, exotic or dangerous animals.


5.     Manure and soiled animal bedding should be removed from petting zoo area on a frequent periodic basis.  Animal waste and waste removal tools should be stored in areas restricted from public access.


Wagon & Carriage Rides

1.     Wagon / Hay rides will avoid streets and/or areas where public traffic is present.  Wagons will come to a complete stop before crossing any road.  Out walkers are required for crowd situations, parades, fairs or on city or town streets. 

2. Wagons will have open sides, be equipped with running lights, reflectors, head lights and hydraulic  brakes or other breaking system acceptable to AEA.  Wagons will not be pulled by motorized  vehicles.

3.     Wagon drivers be at least age 21 years old, have a minimum of two year wagon team experience or fifty driving hours in preceding twelve months.

4. Wagons or sleighs with more than seven passengers must have one (1) qualified driver and one (1) qualified assistant.  The driver will tend the horses while the assistant will be responsible for loading and unloading passengers.  No smoking will be permitted on or near wagons.

5.     Slow moving vehicle sign on rear of carriage or wagon.

6.     Maintain a spare kit including halters, leads, and first aid kit for humans and horses.

7.     Passengers are not allowed to be seated in an unattended vehicle.  The drivers is always the first and last out of the wagon or carriage.

8.     Do not allow people to stand in front of a horse hitched to a vehicle or in front of the vehicles wheels or runners.

9.     Fasten your traces first and undo them last when hitching to and unhitching from a vehicle. Do not remove the bridle and reins from an equine while it is still hitched to the vehicle!

Trail Rides & Pack Trips

1.     All tack and equipment must be inspected on a daily basis and repaired or replaced as necessary.

2.     Every rider must read and sign a Release and Waiver of Liability agreement in the form prescribed by A.E.A.

3.    EVERY RIDER MUST BE OFFERED PROTECTIVE HEAD GEAR.  If a rider refuses to use headgear an Acknowledgment of offer and refusal must be signed by the rider.

4.    All trail ride horses must be equipped with breast collars and children's saddles with full wrap bull-nosed Tapaderos.  Saddles and tack must be well matched to the horse and rider.  Split western reins must be tied.

5.     A system to determine rider experience and capability must be in place. Overweight and young riders must be carefully screened by the stable manager for ability to safely ride.  A mounting block should be available.

6.     ALL TRAIL RIDES MUST BE GUIDED BY AN EXPERIENCED LEAD GUIDE / WRANGLER who is at least 18 years old.  An optimum ratio of 6 riders to 1 guide should be maintained.  It is strongly recommended that guides be provided with radios to communicate with the drag guide and the stable in case of emergency.

7.     Walking rides only, no running or racing of horses.  Trotting is permissible, on good footing, when all riders are capable and in agreement.  Any guest rider violating ride safety rules or good trail etiquettemust dismount and walk to the stable                                              .

8.     No riders under 6 years old. 

9.     No riding double.

10.  No horseback riding while wearing backpacks or carrying bulky items.

11.  All riding instruction must be performed within an arena, on a docile, well trained lesson horse and the student must wear riding shoes and a hard hat.

12.  All horses must be properly cared for, regularly exercised and generally well suited for use with novice riders.  Sick, lame, undernourished or ill tempered horses will not be used for riding instruction, schooling or on trail rides.

13.  Trails should be well maintained, regularly inspected and free of rubbish and surprises.  Guides should avoid road traffic or congested areas.

14.  The guides must explain elementary riding safety, including how to control a runaway horse, and also check to ensure that the rider is physically and mentally fit to ride a horse.

15.  If a rider drops anything from a horse, the guide should pick it up.




Horse Shows & Special Events


  1. Arenas and schooling corrals should be adequate in size to adequately accommodate the riders that will be using the facility. 
  2. Separate areas for parking, warm-up, competition, food service, and spectators must be designated, marked, fenced and /or roped off as appropriate and necessary. Areas where horses are being led or ridden should be off limits for casual spectators, who may have no knowledge of safe zones around horses.
  3. The number of horses in a warm-up or staging area must be controlled to avoid potential accidents.  Spectators must stay in assigned observation areas a safe distance from horse activity.
  4. Premises should be fenced with design and materials required for horse exposures.  Fence should be well constructed and in good repair.  The fence should be at least 4 feet high with " horse proof " gate latches and difficult for children to open.
  5. Rails on fencing used for riding arenas must be attached inside the posts.
  6. Dogs, if allowed at all on the grounds, must be restrained on leads at all times. If they are NOT allowed, signs should be posted on access roads and in parking areas to give owners adequate warning. If dogs are banned, this should be stated on any prize list or activity announcement.
  7. Premises owners, vendors and independent contractors must carry insurance.
  8. Motorcycles, Mopeds, All-Terrain Vehicles, Golf Carts, and Bicycles, if allowed, should be restricted on the grounds to separate them from areas where horses will be moving about, with signage to make clear where they are and are not allowed. If the organizing committee needs to use such vehicles for the running of the event, they must make certain that the drivers are thoroughly familiar with the vehicle's controls, as well as what a horse's reaction may be to the vehicle.
  9. Any horse or rider acting in a reckless, unsafe or unreasonable manner will be required to leave the premises or event.
  10. Stable rules and emergency numbers should be posted in prominent places throughout the stable area.  Most states have equine liability laws.  Most of those laws have specific wording for warning postings and contracts.
  11.   Management must plan for the logistics of emergency medical and veterinary support in case of accident or illness. If the support people are on call rather than on the grounds, access to the emergency site must be kept clear and someone provided to guide them from the facility entrance to where they are needed.
  12. Smoking must be banned from bedding storage and stabling areas; for show or activity areas fire and local government codes and laws must be observed.
  13. Any temporary electrical lines must be checked and approved by a qualified electrician. Public address and other communication equipment should also be checked for safety, and should be able to be heard throughout the grounds.


  1. All participants must sign an acknowledgement of risk and liability release in a form approved by underwriter and state in which activity takes place.  A copy of the release must be filed with company before the event date
  2. Injury to athletic participants in specific activities are excluded from coverage.  All participants ride or participate at their own risk!
  3. ALL exhibitors in over fences classes and hunter classes must wear protective head gear passing testing standards. All junior exhibitors riding anywhere on the grounds must wear protective head gear with harnesses buckled or they will be prohibited from riding anywhere other than the show ring.  Proper shoes with heels should also be required.  No loose clothing permitted.
  4. Volunteers for the event must be thoroughly briefed about the nature of their jobs, and how to provide help to participants and spectators in case of an emergency.


  1. Spectators must be separated from all event activity at all time.  Safety barriers must be in place to prevent spectators from entering event staging areas and arenas.
  2. Spectators who enter areas of equine activities are considered participants and excluded from any form of coverage.
  3. An adult must closely supervise small children at all times. Signs to this effect should be posted at entry points and in parking areas, and particularly at all stabling entrances.



P.O. Box 6230  Scottsdale, AZ 85261
800.874.9191  FAX  602.992.8327