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BVSc, LLB (Hons) (Melb); Solicitor, Melbourne.

B.Com, LLB (Hons) (Melb), LLM (Tor); Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, The University of Melbourne. 260 (2004) 1 UNELJ Judy Bourke and Hayden Opie was in foal to a stallion with a high service fee? What if the horse had bolted (with the same end result) because a spectator’s dog had run onto the course? The Horse and the Law by prominent, horse-loving, Melbourne Queen’s Counsel, Cliff Pannam, will assist in answering each of these questions and many others that may be asked by the general horse owner.

Yet this well-presented volume offers very much more to those interested in racing horses as well as observers of the racing and gambling industries. II FINDING A PLACE FOR HORSE LAW IN THE LEGAL LITERATURE At first glance it is tempting to place The Horse and the Law within the growing body of legal literature on ‘sports law’ or, more broadly, leisure pursuits – whether artistic, cultural, sporting or travel-related.

Law follows social developments and it is more than a little trite to observe that increasing time away from the workplace and greater wealth afford new opportunities for leisure.

Not surprisingly, the increasing scale and commercialisation of leisure, the ‘seriousness’ with which it is approached and numerous interventions by governments of all levels have propelled legal writing in the leisure law field in recent decades.

Mr Pannam acknowledges the role of the horse in sporting and leisure activities through ‘the legion of thoroughbred and standardbred racehorses, show-jumpers, dressage horses, eventers, hunters, rodeo horses, and polo ponies, to say nothing of the family hack and the child’s pony’.1 To this list might be added others such as horses used for the increasingly popular tourist and holiday activity, the trail ride.

Horse racing, in particular, is big business.

It is one of the largest employment industries in Australia, embracing breeders, trainers, jockeys, veterinary surgeons, farriers, stable-hands, stud masters, bookmakers, caterers, gardeners, TAB operators and media personnel.

Horse racing generates huge profits for private industry and significant revenue for government.

Hedged by a maze of regulation which extends from the rules of racing to gambling legislation, and from taxation to employment rules, the modern horse carries a weight of law with its other burdens. 1 Clifford Pannam, The Horse and the Law (3rd ed, 2004) 137. The Horse and the Law 261 However, this book has much longer bloodlines than suggested by its unquestionable association with the new fields of sports and leisure law.

Historically, the horse has played key roles in society as a means for transport and powering machinery, especially before the industrial revolution.

The presence of former stables at the rear of many homes in the inner areas of Australian cities and the use of the expression ‘horsepower’ in regard to all manner of modern mechanical engines speak strongly of the horse’s place in the daily life of earlier generations.

Not surprisingly, extensive bodies of law sprang up concerning the breeding, purchase, hire and sale of horses, the work of farriers and horse-breakers, veterinary care and liability for injury caused by escaping or dangerous equines.

These laws are compendiously described in the numerous editions of George Oliphant’s, The Law of Horses, first published in 1847.

Mr 2 Pannam does not ‘pretend such an ambitious coverage’ but a number of his chapters carry forward the heritage.

Notwithstanding that the horse and the law theme is longestablished in legal literature, great changes to its content have occurred over the past 200 or more years tracking the changing place of the horse.

To some degree this is reflected in Mr Pannam’s book as it has evolved through its first (1979) and second (1986) editions to the third.

Not only has the book increased in page length by some 50 percent, but additional chapters have emerged on restraint of trade, stud farms and transport by horse floats.

These reflect legal developments built on the expansion of the commercial racing industry as well as a need to address old problems in new contexts.

In addition to leisure law and the older law surrounding the horse, there is a third dimension to the changing nature of the horse and law theme and it is one that this book does not address to any degree.

It concerns the emerging animal rights movement 3 and its manifestations in the legal literature.

For horses, this might touch upon the future of jumps racing, the appropriateness of the administration of permitted performance-enhancing drugs and the role of the RSPCA under state legislation as the protector of animal welfare. 2 3 Ibid vii.

See, eg, Steven Wise, Rattling the Cage: Toward Legal Rights for Animals (2000).


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Other Sources:

  • Pony – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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  • Canton Horse Sale: Home
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