There is a common trust amongst horse people. Often, verbal agreements hold merit and legal contracts are put aside. Yet, when the trust is lost and one side wants a horse back, the legal battle ensues.  Relationships are broken, money is wasted, and time is forfeited. To avoid this entire mess, legal contracts should be used in the beginning.

Sales Contracts

When purchasing a large ticket item, such as a car or a house, the contracts are huge and extremely detailed. However, the contracts for sale horses are often are lacking. Many lawyers say that contracts within the horse industry are vague due to lack of education.

Sellers and buyers do not know what to include in a contract in order to cover their liabilities. At a minimum, sale contracts need to include a description of the horse; including their breed, sex, markings, and registration information (if applicable). The contract needs to include the price, the seller & buyer information, the date of the payment, any other agreements, and signatures.

Contracts become extremely complicated though when various obligations are included. A common example is first-right-of-refusal, in reference to the horse being sold back to the original owner if the buyer chooses not to keep the horse. Creating a contract that will hold up in court with those obligations is difficult. Hiring a lawyer to review the contract is a good idea.

Lease Contracts

Lease contracts are less common than sale contracts. These contracts are intended to protect both the owner and leasee. The owner receives the financial benefit of leasing the horse while the leasee gets the opportunity to routinely ride a horse that they do not have to purchase.

Well-drafted lease documents will include all the what-if scenarios. The contract should include the responsibilities of the owner and the leasee if the horse gets injured, dies, changes body conditions, etc. The contract should include the financial obligations of both parties as well.

Lease documents typically include the type of lease, the location of the lease, the riding requirements of the lease (any required lessons or training options), care requirements of the lease (farrier, vet, dentist, etc.), the owner & leasee’s information, the dates of the lease term, and signatures of both parties.

Care Contracts

Care contracts are common for boarding barns or private barns that have a barn manager. The contract outlines the responsibilities of each party. With a care contract, the financial responsibility of each task is typically described too. For example, the owner might pay for the hay but the caretaker would be responsible for distributing it.

By Anna Hellman


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