Before signing that horse boarding contract, have you ever stopped to wonder what all that fine print actually means? Reading over the entire contract positions you as an informed consumer with a more complete understanding of your responsibilities. Below we will be discussing why you need to sign a contract, the important sections on a typical contract, and how you can best protect yourself as a potential boarder.
Why Do You Need to Sign A Contract ?
A horse boarding contract is a binding document that spells out the agreement you have with the barn owner. Usually including your payment obligations each month and the rights of the boarding facility should you fail to comply with the contract.
It is also most likely a requirement of the owner for you to sign a horse boarding contract with them, and not your choice. The barn owner usually needs each boarder to fill out a contract for legal and insurance reasons. It is a means for barn owners to protect themselves from liability and hold you accountable for all fees and charges you incur while your horse is on their property.
What Are The Important Parts Of A Contract ?
Fees and services are spelled out clearly in most contracts. General board includes basic services for the daily care of your horse. The price will reflect the amount of daily services you expect to receive. For example, you will pay more per month if your horse has a stall compared to someone who has their horse on full pasture board.
Other added services may include administering wormer or daily supplements, regular exercise, horse training, and riding lessons. Also included in this section is information regarding the day of each month board is due with late fees and charges.
Most boarding facilities enforce health regulations on new horses coming into the barn. Usually you will have to provide proof of current negative coggins and in some cases prove that your horse is up to date on all shots and deworming. Some facilities may enforce a routine care schedule for veterinary care and deworming. If the boarding facility has specific requirements, they should be outlined specifically in the horse boarding contract. Keeping your horse current in all veterinary care will help stop the spread of equine illness.
Some contracts outline a procedure for emergency situations. As a horse owner you must be prepared for the unexpected. From small injuries to potential life or death situations, it is a good idea to provide an emergency phone number at the very least. A release to provide veterinary care when the barn owner can not reach you can help ensure your horse gets any needed veterinary care, especially in an emergency.
If you have an insurance policy on your horse for mortality, major medical or surgical coverage, you should always provide that information along with the emergency phone number for the insurance company should your horse become ill or injured. Most insurance policies require immediate notification of the illness or injury to honor the claim on the policy.
If your horse boarding contract does not have any information on equine insurance policies, provide the barn owner with an emergency phone number, a copy of the insurance policy, and the insurance emergency phone number. It may also be a good idea to keep a card in your wallet with the emergency insurance phone number and your horse's policy number.
A liability release may also be included in the contract or drafted as a separate document for you to sign. Basically it releases the boarding facility from any liability resulting in your willing participation in equine activities on their property. Some facilities will require a signed release from any additional party you may bring on to their property, even if it is your horse they intend to interact with.
How Can I Protect Myself?
Your best protection as a boarder is to keep yourself informed by thoroughly reading and understanding the horse boarding contract before you sign. By doing this you have the complete understanding of all your obligations as a tenant to the boarding facility.
You also understand the rights of the boarding facility should you fail to pay. After a certain number of missed payments, a boarding stable may have the rights to take ownership of your horse if outlined as such in the boarding contract.
Your best bet is to stay informed and continue to make your payments on time. Establish a good relationship with the barn owner and anyone largely in charge of the care of your horse. Make sure the facility has updated insurance and health information along with an easy way to contact you in case of emergency. Not all of the above discussed sections will appear on a contract so if you have any concerns make sure you inquire with the facility owner and keep copies of everything you sign for future reference.