Anyone in the equine industry knows horses are expensive. Often, the cost of entry scares people away from the sport. As a result, leasing horses has become increasingly popular across all levels of the equine industry. A lease agreement is nothing more than a contract for access to a horse owned by someone else. Therefore, creating a document that sets up a favorable situation for everyone is essential to ensure the success of the arrangement. Below are a few critical elements of an equine lease agreement that should be considered before the conversation and discussed while drafting.
Use of the Horse
While it may seem silly to outline the rights to use of the horse, these provisions can be important down the road. This isn’t just true for the people, but also the horse. Determining the horse’s talents and the specified job can help prevent injuries that would later lead to veterinary expenses or a dispute between the contracting parties.
Many lease agreements exist, from show leases to broodmare/breeding leases to half leases that split up the horse’s care, expenses, and riding time. All these different arrangements require additional agreements and other terms that should be explicitly stated. Lastly, it is also a good idea to think about stating the duration of the lease and outlining any renewal or sale provisions in the initial agreement. It just makes a future conversation about the end of the agreement easier in advance.
Logistics of Leasing the Horse
In addition to determining the lessee’s rights to the horse, the agreement can and should also layout logistics factors. These include where the horse should primarily be located, where it is allowed to go by the owner, and any training requirements. For example, some owners may require the horse to train with a particular trainer and be boarded at a specific barn. Others may let the horse go to any property or only need one lesson per month. The variations are endless, and laying them out clearly in an agreement upfront can help with all parties’ expectations.
Expenses and Fees in a Horse Lease Agreement
Another critical point to line out in a lease agreement is the agreement of fees and financial responsibility of care. A lease fee (if applicable) should be stated in this document to protect both parties. It is also a good idea to determine what expenses (if any) fall to the horse owner and what expenses fall to the lessee. The potential costs for emergency medical care or large, unanticipated veterinary bills should also be considered. Sometimes the parties want to establish specific rules or limits around who is responsible in certain circumstances, which is why the help of an experienced contract attorney can be invaluable to protect everyone.
Equine Liability Insurance in a Horse Lease Agreement
An increasingly common tool in equine leasing is insurance. Many people who lease a show horse are required to carry an insurance policy. Depending on the horse’s registered owner, the horse’s actual owner may need to be the party to maintain the policy and have the lessee cover the premiums. Determining what kind of insurance (mortality, loss of use, etc.), what value of insurance, and who the beneficiaries are is considered during the contracting phase.
Other Provisions to Consider
- Defining the standard of care required for the horse, like feed, veterinary checkups, facilities, transport, and more.
- Acceptance of the risk by both parties, including the lessee’s acceptance of the sport’s general dangers.
- Early termination clauses for both parties, including terms of payment and potential expenses of relocating the horse or continuing its care to a certain standard.
Sharing a horse through a lease can be an empowering experience for the owner, the lessee, and the horse, as long as the terms are clearly defined and set the relationship’s standards from the beginning. Consider reaching out to BB&C for all your equine lease agreement needs. With an experienced team of lawyers well-versed in contracts and the equine industry, we can assist with drafting a clear, fair agreement for both parties.
The content of this blog is intended to be general and informational in nature. It is advertising material and is not intended to be, nor is it, legal advice to or for any particular person, case, or circumstance. Each situation is different, and you should consult an attorney if you have any questions about your situation.