Horse Boarding Contract

A horse boarding contract should not be seen as just a 'legal document'. It's first purpose is to clarify for both parties (the client and the stable owner):

  • what is being provided for the care of the horse,
  • what is not being provided for the horse, and
  • what can be provided for an additional fee.

In a verbal discussion, it is difficult to think of all the items of importance, let alone ensure that they are discussed precisely and at a later date remembered in the same way. By listing and explaining each of the items of importance, a contract ensures that both parties are agreed on how the horse will be taken care of and what the associated costs are.

The format of the contract will depend somewhat on the type of boarding (click on Horse Boarding Types) for details. It is in the interests of the client that the contract specifies not only what is being provided, but how much and to what quality (see Choosing a Horse Boarding Stable) for a checklist.

If you know the other person well and feel uncomfortable with the idea of a formal contract, approach it instead as a ' horse boarding agreement '. In other words, a checklist so that you both have the same understanding on how the horse should be taken care of.

Contract Elements

Items which should be covered by the contract include:

  • Pasture. Which pastures will the horse have access to? How much time per day will the horse have access to these pastures?
  • Paddock. Which pastures will the horse have access to? How much time per day will the horse have access to these pastures?
  • Stall. What stall will the horse be stabled in? Will the horse be kept in the same stall or does the stable manager reserve the right to change stalls? In the latter case, if the stalls vary in quality (e.g. size), what minimum quality stall will be maintaned?
  • Bedding. What type of bedding will be used? How often will the stall be cleaned out (e.g. once/day, twice/day)?
  • Food. What type, quality and quantity of food will be provided to your horse? Unless the horses are mainly pasture-fed, food is one of the main costs of running a stable. Consequently, stable managers will try to ensure that food costs are kept under control. If your horse requires special food supplements (e.g. due to dental or health issues), this can be quite expensive, so there may be a limit on the quantity (e.g. 1kg/day). Alternatively, the stable manager may use feeds which are less expensive (e.g. with molasses added, as a cheap source of energy) but are not suitable for all horses (e.g. high-sugar foods should be avoided by horses which are prone to laminitis or have a history of it). Ensure that your horse receives the type and quantity of feed it should have, even if this means an additional monthly payment or moving to another boarding stable.
  • Emergencies. Specify how they are to be handled. Specify whose choice of vet (stable manager or client); if clent's choice specify action if client's vet unavailable. Specify maximum costs, if client cannot be reached. Specify circumstances under which horse should be put down if client cannot be reached and horse is suffering or maximum cost reached.
  • Routine Medical. Specify how routine medical requirements to be handled. Specify which ones (e.g. cleaning and disinfecting of minor injuries) are included in the monthly fee.
  • Payment.
    • Base Amount. The monthly fee.
    • Additional Fees. Additional costs for spedified additional items (see 'Included and Excluded' below).
    • When. When are the fees due (e.g. before start of month, before end of month, within 30 days of end of month)
    • Non-Payment. What actions can be taken by the stable manager, and under what conditions, if fees are not received. Note that this clause not only protects the stable manager, but can also protect the client, as in some countries the stable manager can initiate procedures after as little as two weeks to take possession of the horse in the event of non-payment.
  • Vaccinations. What vaccinations must your horse have before being stabled. Be wary of stables that have no requirements (see Choosing a Horse Boarding Stable).
  • Access. Specify the access you have (hours and days of operation) to your horse and to facilities (e.g. training ring). Specify if you need an appointment, or if you can visit at any time unannounced during opening hours.
  • Contract Termination. The minimum notice period the client must give to cancel the contract. The minimum notice period the stable manager must give to cancel the contract. Conditions under which the minimum notice period does not apply (e.g. non-payment of stabling fees).

Included and Excluded

The contract should clearly state for each item if it is provided as part of the monthly fee, or requires additional payment. Items that should be covered include:

  • Pasture Access (specify where and amount)
  • Paddock Access (specify where and amount)
  • Stall (specify which)
  • Access to facilities ( ring, arena, storage space in tack room). Specify frequency, conditions and fees.
  • Bedding (specify type, specify frequency of cleaning)
  • Food (specify type, clarify if 'unlimited' or state the amount if 'limited, specify frequency of feeding)
  • Treatment of occassional minor injuries, which do not require veterinary attention (e.g. just cleaning and a disinfectant spray).

For any items which are not included in the base monthly fee, the additional cost of these items should be stated.

It is almost impossible to list every item that might be relevant. Consequently, for items which are not listed, it is normal practice for these to be at the cost of the horse owner rather than the stable manager. Although this is assumed under normal contract law, to avoid disputes the wise stable manager will include a statement to this effect.