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Ocala, FL Boarding Agreements

The equine industry is a unique field. Horses may be purchased for sporting or entertainment purposes. But, of course, these large animals cannot be stored within one’s backyard. Licenses, certifications and suitable facilities and care are basic requirements to maintain a horse. As a result, many horse owners rely on boarding facilities to meet the basic needs of their horses. However, the equine industry is notoriously known for business strategies that are not consistent with modern business and legal standards of practice. For example, by the very means of a firm handshake, individuals within the equine industry negotiate, sell and purchase horses, and reach governing agreements. While this tactic is still commonly employed, a mere handshake is not as powerful as a boarding agreement. If an unforeseen circumstance occurs, such as the sudden illness or death of a horse; or a boarder’s need to travel with the horse; or a boarding facility's desire to use the horse for personal and/or entertainment purposes, all of the parties involved will likely end up confused and uncertain on what they are actually permitted to do. As such, it is best to speak to an equine attorney at Schatt Hesser Mcgraw before entering into any sort of agreement (or compromise) with a boarding facility.

Horse Boarder Legal Rights

As a horse boarder, you are entitled to certain rights, responsibilities and privileges. Entering into a boarding agreement with a boarding facility helps to ensure that such rights, responsibilities and privileges are clearly outlined, defined and protected. Without a boarding agreement,the boarding facility may not be able to adequately provide for the needs of your horse, let alone be aware of what is required and owed. Likewise, you (and your horse) may be faced with serious health, financial and legal risks that are difficult to navigate without a governing contract. If you own a horse and wish to store the animal within a boarding facility, you should be aware that Florida equine law protects you. Further, Florida equine lawyers can help you apply these laws to your unique needs by helping to craft an efficient and all-inclusive boarding agreement.

Terms That Should Be Included in Boarding Contracts

If you decide to enter into an agreement with a boarding facility, you should consult with an equine attorney in Ocala, FL about your plans for your horse. Factors such as how you plan to use your horse, how often you plan to be around your horse, and the condition of your horse will dictate the terms and conditions that should be outlined in your boarding agreement. There is no standard boarding contract. Surely, each boarding agreement should spell out universal basics, but largely, the content of a boarding contract is what YOU make of it. Consider the following terms that should be specified in a written boarding agreement.

Basic Party Details & Information

The most important (and universal) aspect of a proper boarding contract is a clear identification of the parties involved. This means that the full names and the basic contact information of the horse owner, boarding facility, and stable owner should be outlined. Further, there should be a detailed account of the horse’s name, description and characteristics (these may include the horse’s registration number, sex, breed, height, age, etc.); the full name and address of the stable; the amount, method and frequency of any boarding fees/payments; the start and end date of the agreement; and detailed information regarding the services that the boarding facility is required (or expected) to provide.

Although boarding contracts may vary, it is vital that your agreement contains the aforementioned information. These are the basics of equine law. By adhering to these rules, you are likely to be protected. Even still, there are other considerations that you may wish to include in your boarding contract.

Special Rights & Instructions

As a horse owner, you are entitled to certain governing rights over your horse, including the rights and privileges of boarding facilities and employees when dealing with your horse. Many boarding facilities allow employees to ride horses. You may wish for your horse to be provided regular exercise. What type of exercise are you comfortable with? How much exercise do you wish for your horse to have? Further, who is allowed to operate your horse? These types of questions and concerns are often not included in boarding agreements, but they should always be addressed in a proper boarding contract. Always outline special rights and instructions pertaining to your horse to avoid future conflicts and misunderstandings.

Liability, Risks & Protecting Your Asset(s)

It is no secret that horses are expensive animals. People often spend their life’s savings on horses, without considering the additional fees that are associated with maintaining a horse’s life and general health. When entering into a boarding agreement, you must protect your investment. You can do so by outlining the following within your boarding agreement.

Death & Injury Risks: There is no doubt that there are risks associated with horses. Further, someone, whether it is the stable owner or the horse owner, is responsible for assuming these risks. When incidents such as property damage caused by a horse occurs, or death or injury to a horse occurs, or death or injury of a person caused by a horse occurs, someone must be responsible for providing compensation and other legal requirements. These types of considerations should always be specified in a boarding contract, especially since horses are largely unpredictable (and at times, dangerous) animals.

Insurance: As a horse owner, it is crucial to invest in insurance. You will need to enter into an insurance policy that carefully considers all risks associated with your horse (in conjunction with the boarding facility), as well as provide thorough protection. You may have to enter into several types of insurance coverage plans depending on the nature of your horse and how you plan to use your horse. For example, you may wish to invest in health insurance for an aging horse and sporting coverage insurance for a horse that is used in gaming competitions. To know what type of insurance plan to pursue and adopt, you should consult with an Ocala equine lawyer.

Emergencies: Good boarding contracts anticipate emergencies. Great boarding contracts create responsive action plans. Be sure that your boarding agreement specifies how a horse will be handled during an emergency and when/how you, as a horse owner, will be notified. The contract should either grant or revoke permission to the boarding facility to make decisions without the presence (or input) of the horse owner to ensure the horse’s general safety and wellbeing.

Other Considerations

Boarding contracts should specify the consequences for a boarder’s failure to provide timely payments and general rules of the stable. Once the aforementioned details are clearly defined in a boarding contract, the document must be sealed with the signatures of all parties involved. A boarding contract is legally binding, however, the terms can be amended, if necessary.

Ocala Equine Lawyers

Far too often, horse boarders enter into verbal contracts and/or “handshake” agreements that fail to address all issues regarding the care, maintenance, liability and protection of a horse as it resides in a boarding facility. Do not fall victim to this mistake or heavy risk. At Schatt Hesser Mcgraw, our Ocala equine lawyers are happy to assist you with crafting an effective and inclusive boarding agreement. You must protect your investment and ensure the safety, wellbeing and proper care of your animal. Contact our Florida attorneys today to discuss the plans that you have for your horse so that we may assist you with a proper governing contract.

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