PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.
Winter is approaching and with it the worry over the cost of feed, bedding and hay. The dark nights prevent many but the lucky few from riding after work. The additional costs, the extra work out and not being able to ride as frequently as you want leads many to consider loaning or sharing their horse.
A horse loan or share can work brilliantly when both parties get on well and do what they should do as responsible owners or sharers. Problems often arise when parties have different views on horse welfare needs or when one party wants to end the agreement when the other is not prepared for it.
To minimise the risks of a breakdown in a horse share or loan arrangement consider the following:
If you are a horse owner looking to loan or share your horse:
Take up references and make sure that the potential sharer/loanee is sufficiently experienced to take on your horse. A lot of people boast about their ability or what they intend to do but there is often a gap between what they think they can do and what they can actually do!
Be open about any behavioural or health issues with the horse. It is better to put off a potential loanee/sharer than risking an early breakdown in the arrangement because the loanee/sharer has bitten off more than they can chew.
If you want a long term arrangement make sure the prospective loanee or sharer is secure financially and is also looking for a long term commitment;
Do you want to place any restrictions on what can or cannot be done with the horse, for instance, if it’s a mare do you want to prevent the mare being put in foal?
If your horse is a mare and has a foal who will own the foal?
If your horse is a breeding stallion who owns the nomination fees?
Itemise (making a note of the condition) any tack, rugs and other equipment which will be included with the loan/share arrangement;
Do you want the horse to remain at its current yard? If not make sure that you are kept informed about the whereabouts of the horse;
Where will be the passport be kept?
Specify whether the same farrier, chiropractor, dentist and vet should be used.
Agree who is responsible for the costs of shoeing, dentals etc and agree shoeing, dental and back check intervals.
Specify who is responsible for the costs of annual tetanus and flu vaccinations.
Who will insure the horse and at what value?
Who is responsible for paying any affiliation fees if the horse is to be competed?
Specify the rota for riding, competing and stable duties in a horse share arrangement.
Make sure you specify your involvement in any major decision about the health and welfare of the horse.
Agree the notice period and arrangements to terminate the loan/share arrangement including who pays for any transportation costs.
If you are a considering whether to take a horse on loan or share a horse:
In addition to the above mentioned points, if you are considering a long term horse share consider whether to have the horse vetted. If the vetting reveals possible health or soundness problems consider the financial and insurance implications before you enter into the loan arrangement, particularly if you are responsible for all costs.
Make sure that you are happy that the horse is suitable for your riding ability, is capable of doing what you want to do with the horse, and you have the patience, experience and help to deal with any quirks or training issues.
If you intend to train a young horse and potentially add value agree with the owner whether you can have first refusal if the owner wishes to sell the horse and if possible fix the price that you will pay for the horse.
It is important that both parties write down what has been agreed but better still – sign a Horse Share or Loan Agreement- Contact equine law specialist Clare Towers at DFA Law for a free copy of our horse loan agreement. firstname.lastname@example.org