Brief Introduction About a Horse Boarding Contract
A horse boarding contract or agreement is a written document that clearly spells out the scope of the service being provided i.e., while indemnifying the stable owner/service provided i.e., against any unplanned contingencies that may occur in the course of business. At the same time, a detailed contract such as this one also protects the client from running into any extra costs or risks which otherwise cannot be perceived, or accounted for at the beginning of the transaction.
As true for any written agreement, a horse boarding contract spells out the obligations of both parties, i.e., the boarding stable as well as the horse owner and governs potential liability issues and emergencies that could arise from the relationship. A signed boarding agreement allows for enforceability in the court of law, thus ensuring that both parties can avail remedies in case the contract is broken, or any of its clauses are breached upon.
Who Takes the Horse Boarding Contract: People Involved
A horse boarding agreement is usually signed between two parties, i.e., the service provider i.e., which in this case is the Boarding stable/stable owner and the client, i.e., the horse owner who wishes to onboard his or her horse with the former. In legal terms, a stable owner will be called the ‘bailee’ and the horse owner will be called the ‘bailor’ and the signing of the boarding agreement will mean legalizing the bailment relationship between the two parties.
Purpose of a Horse Boarding Contract
Why do you need one: As also mentioned earlier, the main purpose of a Boarding contract is to protect the rights and enforce the obligations of the stable owner as well as the client? Boarding a horse without a signed legal contract could open the stable owner to a wide variety of risks such as charges against the eloping, death, or ill health of a horse. Similarly, the absence of a signed contract could also put the horse owner in a bad place in terms of extra charges, unwarranted safety or protection for their horse and so on.
The primary purpose of the boarding agreement thus is to protect both the parties from running unwanted or unsolicited i.e., risks by safeguarding their positions legally. Typically speaking, a boarding contract should detail out any liability waivers that the parties are expected to sign, sufficiently decide how emergency vet needs will be handled if required.e., and mention side charges that will be accounted for if any. Either way, signing a boarding contract ensures legal cover and a clarity that makes for a smooth transaction between both the stable owner and the client.
Contents of a Horse Boarding Contract – Inclusions
In general, a good Boarding Contract should –
- identify the parties and the horse(s),
- lay out a basic structure of rights and responsibilities,
- explain terms of liability, indemnity, and exclusions and
- detail out the actions/procedures in case of default and termination.
While the language and structure of each Boarding contract differ, it should include the following clauses as a minimum:
- Introductory Paragraph: The purpose of an introductory paragraph is to identify the parties to the agreement and the horse(s) being boarded. This clause should clearly state the name (registered business name in case of a stable) and a detail i.e., addresses of each party. It should also include name, age, breed, sex, color, markings, registration information, tattoo number, and other preliminary identification detail for the horse or horses being boarded.
- Fees/Terms for payment and non-payment: This section clearly spells out the fee per week/month and terms of payment, i.e., when each payment falls due, etc. It may also cover a lien on the horse in case of nonpayment, in addition to other detail i.e., terms for default.
- Scope of Service/Facilities provided: This clause should state general information such as stall si.e., pasture area, watering, and amount and type of feed provided i.e., for each horse. It should also detail out any additional service i.e., provided i.e., such as shoeing, grooming, worming, and exercising that will be contracted for and paid against.
- Ownership of Horse and Proof of Medical care: This clause should require the horse owner to provide details of ownership of the horse in addition to detail i.e., negative Coggins test before the horse can be boarded with the stable. The section may also require showing proof of medical tests and vaccination i.e. before the horse can be boarded.
- Release of Liability and Indemnification: Release of Liability and Indemnification clause protects the stable owner against loss or damage to the property that may be caused by the horse and releases him for any liability for ill health or death of the animal. The clause may also state the requirement for the owner to have liability insurance for the animals boarded in some cases.
- Termination and Default: Termination clause details instances, causes, and methods for termination of the contract. Generally, most parties agree to a 30 -90 days’ notice before the termination of the agreement. It also states the rights of parties to termination and details out default scenarios that may immediately solicit the end of the agreement.
- Mediation/Arbitration: This section ensures that the parties resort to mediation/ arbitration before filing a lawsuit for the resolution of a dispute under the agreement. It details the procedure for mediation/arbitration in some cases.
In addition to the above, the horse boarding contract can include several other clauses such as rules and regulations for the stable, right to a lien, emergency care, and more.
How to Draft a Horse Boarding Contract
A horse Boarding Contract should be drafted to cover the minutest details as far as possible without making the contract too wordy or lengthy. An ideal contract should be drafted to cover the best interest of both parties and should be vetted by an attorney before it is presented for signature.
Points to Consider While Preparing the Horse Boarding Agreement:
- Avoid a one-sided contract: Make sure that the contract isn’t one that heavily favors one party to the contract. Generally, stable owners can tend to add terms that provide them a title to the horse in case of late payment or include a side charge in the contract that is always spelled out clearly. It is best to avoid a contract that is lop-side as it can sooner or later jeopardize the relationship between the boarding stable and the client.
- Clearly state the scope of services, liability/indemnification, and termination clauses and the fees structure: The scope of service and the fees should be clearly stated and shouldn’t be kept jumbled. At the same time liability, indemnification and termination safeguards should also be communicated in a crisp and clear manner. This provides both parties with an insight into what they agree to while also providing them ground for negotiation if required.
- Avoid ready templates: Horse boarding contract template or horse facility lease agreement templates are easily available online as well as in books. While they mostly provide a good starting point, they should not be relied upon fully. It is good practice to avail of the service of a trusted attorney and has them review your contract before use.
Negotiation Strategy While Signing a Horse Boarding Contract
Parties can sometimes push back on certain terms of the agreement. In this scenario, it is best to identify non-negotiable aspects against flexible clauses of the contract and reach a common ground with the opposing party. In some cases, it can be beneficial to involve trained attorneys in the negotiation if the deal is complex and/or of a higher value.
Benefits and Drawbacks of a Horse Boarding Contract
While signing a written contract is mostly always beneficial for the parties involved, it can sometimes seem burdensome. One-sided contracts, especially those favoring only one party to the transaction can be viewed as a hassle and could also jeopardize a long-standing relationship between the parties in some cases. If the contract is too wordy or one that entails too many liabilities/responsibilities for the client, he/she may lose interest in the deal and also drop it entirely in some cases.
However, singing a Boarding Contract has several benefits on the whole. It protects the stable owner from onerous liabilities and indemnifies him/her against loss, damage, and non-payment on the part of the client. Similarly, the client has assured a detailed service scope as well as a legal remedy against non-performance.
What Happens in Case of Violation of the Horse Boarding Contract
Violation or breach of a Horse boarding contract is usually tied to a remedy or course of action that is mentioned in the contract itself. In case of violation of the agreement, the non-violating party gets to evoke its right to sue the violating party for damages. The nature and quantum of damages depend upon the type of breach and are mostly be detail, out in the contract or tied to a specific reference of the law. The most common types of violations in case of a boarding contract are non-payment or delayed the payment by the client, default by the stable owner in the provision of specific and agreed-upon service, and so on.
Generally, the violations regarding payment are covered with either a lien on the horse or by way of paying interest for each day of default. Other violations are generally covered by nominal, compensatory and even punitive damages in some cases. Typically, the breach of boarding contract is tackled in mediation/arbitration proceedings(1) and even by way of a lawsuit in case of serious defaults.
[Also Read: Horse Sale Contract]
A Horse Boarding Contract is an essential instrument for stable owners as well as horse owners. It leads to the facilitation of safe and protected transactions between both parties and avoids them from falling prey to any surprise, or emergencies that may occur during the course of the transaction.
A well—crafted boarding contract also sets a great precedent for the boarding industry by showing that the stable owners are concerned about the well-being and safety of the horses and that they adhere to all necessary safeguards.
Similarly, the agreement solicits horse owners that their stallions are well-catered to. A boarding contract is the best way to state the roles, responsibilities, and regulations in case of a horse boarding transaction and forge legal enforceability in case of default from either end. As a best practice, a special attorney should be involved in drafting and negotiating a horse boarding agreement.