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The full case caption appears at the end of this opinion.

The issue in this case is whether a licensed jockey who was hired to exercise a horse during a race is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under RCW 51.12.010 if injured while exercising that horse. The Court of Appeals concluded the rider, as a licensed jockey, was exempt from coverage under RCW 51.12.020(7). We reverse, holding it is a person’s employment function at the time of the injury, and not the person’s licensed status, that controls whether he or she is excepted from workers’ compensation coverage.


Richard Ochoa (Ochoa), petitioner, was a licensed jockey who was injured while exercising a horse during the 1993 race meet at Playfair Race Course (Playfair) in Spokane. The 1993 Playfair race meet spanned several months, from July to November. On September 26, 1993, Steven Quionez (Quionez) hired Ochoa to exercise his horse that day. Quionez agreed to pay Ochoa a flat fee for the time he spent exercising the horse. Ochoa was hopeful Quionez would eventually ask him to ride the horse in a race. At the time Ochoa was hired, however, Quionez had not yet decided who would ride the horse in its next race, and the horse was not even scheduled for its next race.

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