Ocala, FL Equine Law FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions: Florida Equine Law
If you have questions or concerns regarding equine law in the state of Florida, rely on an experienced attorney at Schatt, McGraw, Rauba & Mutarelli for guidance and legal insight.
What is equine law?
Equine law is a field of law that regulates horses, horse activities, boarding contracts, horse businesses, horse transactions, horse organizations, and horse facilities. It may also encompass horse related disputes and litigation. Equine law typically involves a combination of several types of law to effectively regulate the horse industry. Tort law, estate law, tax law, business law and contract law are commonly interwoven in equine law.
What does an equine law attorney do?
An Ocala equine attorney performs a variety of work related to the horse industry, the tax industry, and the business industry. Equine lawyers help individuals purchase and sell horses, as well as organize facilities according to Florida equine law standards. Equine lawyers may review contracts, including boarding agreements, liability waivers, leasing agreements and breeding agreements. When there are contract disputes, a lawyer may help to mediate or settle such differences among parties, or advocate for a horse owner or professional in court.
Does an equine attorney represent horses?
No. An equine attorney does not represent horses or any other non-human. Instead, equine lawyers represent horse owners and other individuals who are involved in the horse industry.
Why would I need an equine attorney?
An Ocala equine lawyer may become necessary if you desire to purchase or sell a horse, enter into a contract with a horse facility, or if you are involved in a complex dispute or lawsuit.
Where can I find the rules that apply to my equine?
There are federal and state laws that govern the equine industry. You should speak with an attorney to be aware of these laws and how they apply to your equine. Other policies that you may wish to review include standards set forth by the United States Equestrian Foundation (USEF).
What is an Equine Activity Statute?
An Equine Activity Statute provides that injuries sustained by individuals who participate in equine related activities are not the fault of equine professionals, such as equine activity sponsors. Most equine activities are inherent in nature and this makes equine professionals not liable for damages and injuries. Every state contains an Equine Activity Statute to this effect. In the state of Florida, equine professionals are, however, required to post visible warning signs to alert equine activity participants to the fact that professionals are not liable for unfortunate events.
What is a Coggins Test?
A Coggins Test samples the blood of horses to identify Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) or Swamp Fever. This highly viral disease is fatal and easily transferred via blood sucking insects (such as mosquitos), and exchange of bodily fluids/secretions. Symptoms of EIA may include sudden death, weight loss, anemia, excessive sweating, bodily swelling and overall weakness. However, some horses do not experience these symptoms at all. Because EIA is the equivalent to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in humans, it is best for the Coggins Test to be performed regularly to keep cattle safe, healthy and alive.
What does a Coggins Test have to do with equine law?
There are state and federal laws that mandate administration of the Coggins Test, especially when a horse travels between or among states. The Coggins Test is also mandated when a horse is transferred intrastate or as a routine standard.
Should I form a syndicate?
A syndicate allows a group of people to invest in a horse by purchasing shares. It is an affordable strategy that enables individuals to maintain a horse, and earn profit when the horse successfully trains and competes. Before forming a syndicate, you should be knowledgeable about the basic health and details of a horse to ensure that it is indeed worth the investment.
How do I know if my horse deal is lawful?
If you believe that you are entering into a bad horse deal, you may be right. The best thing to do is to have your horse contract reviewed by an equine lawyer. Per Florida standards and federal guidelines, as well as general knowledge of the equine industry, an attorney will be able to pinpoint errors and issues in your contract and guide you accordingly.
What if I have been cheated on a horse sale?
Visit our equine law firm in Ocala, FL so we may appoint a lawyer to you. Through a free initial consultation, your case will be reviewed to determine if pursuit of a claim is possible.
How can I be sure that I am purchasing the right horse?
We recommend that you keep personal records of the horse that you want to purchase. Identify the basic external factors and appearances of your desired horse. Document how the horse behaves and other mannerisms. Verify that the Seller is a legitimate professional in the horse industry and have an equine lawyer guide you through necessary contracts and paperwork.
Will my equine law case go to court?
If you have an equine dispute that cannot be settled through negotiation, your case will go to court. Be sure to hire an attorney.
I bought a horse and the horse now has a problem. Doesn’t the seller have to take it back?
No. It is rare for sellers to accept returns, especially within the horse industry. If you can prove that the seller grossly misrepresented the quality and health of a horse, however, you can pursue legal action instead.
When do I have a legal claim against the seller?
If the seller acted in bad faith or dishonored the contract, you may potentially have a legal claim.
Is it safe to buy a horse over the Internet?
While it may be a safe process with an Ocala attorney and proper documents, we do not recommend it. Buying a horse over the Internet places you at a considerable risk of being blindsided or exploited. Images on the Internet may not accurately reflect the appearance of a horse. Further, you will have to perform additional tasks to ensure that the seller over the Internet is legitimate in the first place.
How can I get a vet check if the horse I want to buy is far away?
It is possible to request a current vet check of the horse from the seller. Or, you may locate a vet in the area that the horse resides in.
What if the seller is reluctant to sign my purchase agreement?
Maintain clear and open communication with the seller. Ask the seller if there are any issues and carefully respond to the seller’s concerns. If the seller refuses to sign, you can attempt to purchase a different horse.
I want to take the horse to my barn for a trial period, but the seller doesn’t want the horse to leave the property. Should I be suspicious?
No. There are a lot of risks that the seller may face by allowing you to transport the horse and care for the horse in your separate barn. Frankly, it is a wise decision for a seller to deny such request.
Should I take my trainer or riding instructor with me to look at horses?
Yes. This will be helpful.
What are my legal rights as a horse boarder?
The legal rights of a horse boarder should be reflected in the horse boarding contract.
What should be in my boarding contract?
An effective boarding contract should include the following:
- Basic contact information of the parties involved in a horse transaction
- Detailed characteristics of the horse, including its name and breed
- Plans and purposes for the horse
- The types and amounts of fees involved, including methods of payments
- The start and end date of the agreement
- Special rights and privileges to the horse
- Insurance and liability policies
- Plans for handling emergencies and disputes
What happens if I fall behind on my board payments?
Your boarding contract should address how late board payments will be made. It may result in additional fees or the removal of rights to your horse.
Are horses considered an "attractive nuisance"?
Yes. This negligence may make a horse owner liable for damages to children and other individuals.
What type of estate planning can I do for my horses?
You can develop a will that determines who will inherit your horse when you pass.
As a rider, what should I know about rider release agreements?
You should know that there are inherent risks associated with riding horses that others will not be held liable for. This means that you cannot pursue claims for injuries or damages.
As a farm owner, what type of protection do I need for trainers to teach and ride on my property?
Simply have trainers sign a Release Agreement so that you are not liable for injuries or damages.
I am considering leasing out my horse, what type of contract should I have in place to ensure that my horse will protected?
The first thing that you need to do is ensure that your horse is in top condition, as described in your contract. Then, you should work with an equine attorney to negotiate provisions in your contract or cancel it altogether.