EQUINE LEGAL SERVICES
Business Organization & Contract Preparation
KNOW THE INDUSTRY
Whether or not you engage in horse activities for a profit, if money matters to you at all then you should be “business-like” in your conduct. Having a contract is the best way to protect your financial interests in both the long and short term.
I have extensive experience with:
Limited Liability Companies
I can help you understand if and when you need an LLC, and set one up for you if needed.
Horse Co-Ownership Agreements
I’ll help you to establish the rights and obligations of all co-owners.
Help your employees understand what benefits you are and are not offering with a unique employment agreement.
Releases of liability
Protect yourself with releases of liability, also called waivers. These are required in some states if you want the benefit of the immunity protections afforded by some equine activity liability acts.
A well drafted lease agreement is important because leasing a horse is probably one of the riskiest transactions in the horse business.
Boarding Contracts are important to any stable owner who wants to get paid and doesn’t want to get sued.
Purchase and Sale Agreements
Purchase and Sale Agreements are a seller’s best protection, assuming the buyer actually signs! I draft custom sales contracts and as part of my services I send them out for signature by all parties via Docusign.
Training Agreements as a stand-alone contract in cases where a trainer or rider is providing services to a horse that is not boarded with the trainer.
Equestrian Facility Leases
Equestrian Facility Leases are crucial to both landlord and tenant. In my experience, there is no such thing as a “standard” barn or farm lease – everyone will have some specific needs or wants that require customization. And a standard residential property lease will not get the job done, no matter what your realtor may say.
Breeding Contracts, whether for live-cover or semen purchase, are helpful to both the stallion owner and the mare owner, particularly because the period of time between the payment of a deposit and the birth of the foal can be a year or more.
Contract & Business Services: Explained
I was told I should set up an LLC. Is it really a good idea?
LLC’s are easy to set up and offer a number of advantages, even if you aren’t engaged in business activities for profit.
Is it hard to set one up?
No. In fact, you can probably do it yourself online.
Is it expensive?
The initial filing fee will only run you about a $100
Do I need a lawyer to do it?
You probably don’t need a lawyer to set one up, but you will need a lawyer to help you understand some of the legal requirements. Also, if the LLC is going to have a bank account, the bank will probably ask you for a copy of the company’s “Operating Agreement.” That is a document you should have an attorney draft for you.
How many different ways are there for multiple people to share ownership of a horse?
How you structure the ownership vehicle is important, but it doesn’t need to be overly technical or complicated.
Should people sharing ownership of a horse have something in writing?
When people sharing ownership of a horse have a falling out, how does it usually end?
Badly for the people, badly for the horse. What they saved in money not paying an attorney to draft a contract, they will now pay (many times over) to multiple attorneys to fight over a horse that probably isn’t worth what the attorneys will charge. And the more valuable the horse, the more likely that it will end up in a field, doing nothing, for a year or more while the dispute works its way through the court system.
How important is it to have a written employment contract?
That depends on the nature of the work. But it is a useful tool for both employers and employees.
Can’t I just use the liability release I found on the internet?
I wouldn’t recommend it. Most liability releases I have “found online” are garbage.
Are liability releases even enforceable?
That’s always the question and it depends on the facts of the case and the document itself. But they have tremendous value as a litigation deterrent.
My trainer has a lease agreement they said I can use. Won’t that suffice?
While I can’t evaluate the merits of a document I haven’t reviewed, I have reviewed a lot of lease agreements and most of them are significantly deficient in one way or another.
Is leasing a horse a good deal?
Leasing a horse tends to be no less risky than owning a horse. Leasing is a better deal for the owner than it is for the lessee. But I get the most calls about lease deals gone bad – so it is a kind of transaction that when things go badly, a poorly drafted contract will only make the situation worse.
Do I really need a boarding agreement?
If you are boarding horses, then yes, you do.
If an owner doesn’t pay their bill, I can just take their horse, right?
If an owner doesn’t pay their bill, you probably have a lien on the horse, but a lien does not translate into automatic ownership of the horse or the ability to just sell it and keep the money.
What’s the point of a boarding contract?
For the stable to get paid and to not get sued. There are a lot of little details that need to be addressed in a boarding agreement so that the stable can do right by the horse and get paid in full and not get sued.
Can you sell a horse “on a handshake”?
In some limited situations you can. But in some situations, a total failure to document the transaction might be illegal.
Is there a difference between a “Sales Contract” and a “Bill of Sale”?
A Bill of Sale is technically nothing more than a receipt for the money that changed hands; it is proof of the transaction after the fact. A Sales Contract is more detailed and includes terms of the deal, and is usually signed by the parties in advance of money changing hands. A Sales Contract can, by its terms, stipulate that it will serve as a Bill of Sale after the horse is delivered to the buyer.
I sold a horse and sent the buyer a Sales Contract, but she never sent me a back a signed copy. Is this a problem?
In several significant ways. Sellers should always get a signed copy of a sales contract before delivering the horse to the buyer.
Do I need a contract to protect myself if I ride horses I do not own that are not boarded with me?
There are several concerns in this type of situation that are appropriately addressed in a written training agreement.
I am going to rent a barn on my property to a trainer. My realtor says we can just use the standard form property rental agreement that the Real Estate Board provides for free. Will that document do the trick?
No, it won’t. Those form rental agreements are intended for residential properties, not agricultural properties. The rental of an equestrian facility can involve many details that should be covered in a written lease agreement, but that will probably be unfamiliar to an attorney who doesn’t have experience with horse boarding.