Thursday, February 9, 2012

Insurance and Risk

We, as a society, have become far too risk averse.

My trainer has a horse called Simon. No matter who rides him or how they ride him he will, on occasion, put his head down, lean on the bit and just take off. A curb bit makes him worse. He's just about rideable in a boucher with a very tight flash or crank. We don't want to try him in a gag or elevator in case that has the same effect as the curb.

I finally got my thoughts together enough to speak up to my trainer and suggest a different approach - trying him in an English hackamore. An English hackamore is a shanked bitless bridle - it's actually a fairly heavy piece of gear that is normally put on strong horses who, you guessed it, lean on or run through any bit you try.

Her response after a moment. "You know why we can't? Insurance."

Their insurance policy specifies that all horses have to be ridden with a bit. No doubt this is intended to keep kids from chasing around bareback in a halter, but seriously? Anyone who actually knows horses knows that for some horses a bitless bridle is the safest and most effective piece of tack. For horses with old injuries to the tongue and jaw, a bitless bridle may be the only thing they can be ridden in.

Specifying a bit is not just risk averse, it's ignorant.

Insurance in general has become a means for corporations to control what individuals do. I wonder if we can't get it back the way it should be...you pay into a pool and then when something happens, you get payment back, regardless. In order to do so, we would have to stop the ridiculous liability suits, placing a different burden of proof on people who want to sue somebody for negligence or malpractice.

How do we do that? Bear in mind that it would lower healthcare costs, too, if doctors did not have to pay quite as much for liability insurance. It might lower the costs of entertainment activities that are inherently risky.

And people could use their own judgment instead of that of a claims adjuster...the people who are on the ground and, in this case, looking at the horse.