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How Can a Contract Authorize the Trainer or Boarding Stable Owner to Handle Veterinary Emergencies in the Owner’s Absence?

In January 2013, Julie was the speaker at a national teleconference on Equine Law and also spoke at continuing legal education programs on Equine Law for the Washington State Bar Association and New York State Bar Association. Attendees raised several questions, and some of them are shared on this blog.


Some boarding contracts in the equine industry ask owners to give their consent for veterinary services. What is your opinion of these kinds of clauses?

Julie’s answer to the question

I often see provisions in boarding and training contracts that give the trainer or boarding stable specific authorization to handle veterinary emergencies.  Some of the clauses, in my opinion, could pose problems.  For example:

  • I am aware of boarding contracts where the owner is asked to set forth a specific dollar limit of what he or she will authorize the stable to spend on veterinary care of the owner is unavailable and cannot be reached (such as in situations where the owner is vacationing). These clauses concern me. What if the veterinarian estimates that the cost of a procedure, such as colic surgery, will exceed the limit by a few hundred dollars? Should the stable take the risk and exceed the limit? This puts the stable and veterinarian in a difficult position and I avoid these clauses in contracts that I draft.
  • Other boarding contract clauses I’ve seen give the boarding stable full discretion to handle emergencies if the owner (or designated person) cannot be reached and specify that the stable acts as the owner’s agent to procure veterinary attention if the owner cannot be reached. These clauses seem reasonable, overall, as stable management can take into account the horse’s condition, the horse owner’s ability to pay, and the estimated cost for veterinary attention.
  • A safe option might be to require the horse owner to notify at least two local veterinarians of the dollar limit and provide a credit card on file in case one of the veterinarians is summoned in the owner’s absence to handle a veterinary emergency involving the boarded horse.
  • As to routine veterinary attention, horse owners generally want to handle these matters as they see fit, and some horse owners prefer to use their own selected veterinarian as opposed to the veterinarian used by stable management. Still, there can be no question that the boarding stable is interested in making sure that horses at its facility are vaccinated and de-wormed on a regular basis in an effort to minimize stable-wide illnesses.

If you have any other questions, please contact Julie using the form below.

Categories: Boarding, Contracts, Veterinary Malpractice

Photo of Julie I. Fershtman

is considered to be one of the nation's leading attorneys in the field of equine law. A frequent author and speaker on legal issues, she has written over 400 published articles, three books, and has lectured at seminars, conventions, and conferences in 29 states on issues involving law, liability, risk management, and insurance. For more information, please also visit and, and

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Our Equine law blog (and its author) in the news!

Julie Fershtman, author of our popular and prolific Equine Law Blog, was interviewed this week by the State Bar of Michigan. The interview, which called Fershtman "Lawyer-Blogger," discussed our Equine Law Blog. We truly believe that this blog is the nation's most active blog serving the equine industry on equine law topics, and we thank you for visiting it. Read more here.

Honors & Recognitions

Congratulations, Julie! We're proud to share that Julie Fershtman has received two prestigious awards.

On April 13, 2013, she received the American Youth Horse Council's 2013 "Distinguished Service" Award. As the award itself states, she received it "[i]n recognition of years of dedicated service to the American Youth Horse Council and tireless efforts to touch the lives of youth involved with horses." For more information about the American Youth Horse Council, please visit

On May 7, 2013, Julie received the 2013 "Industry Award" from the Michigan Equine Partnership for her work over the years supporting legislation to promote and protect the Michigan equine industry. For more information about the Michigan Equine Partnership, please visit


We're pleased to share that Julie just won a case in Michigan where she defended a boarding and training stable that was sued by a visitor who was injured in the barn aisle. Julie cautions that this case might have been avoided altogether if the stable required every visitor to sign its waiver/release of liability. (Julie, interestingly, drafted that stable's release document years ago but the stable only presented it to customers.) Make sure that your release is well-worded and complies with the laws of your state.

Other Articles

"The Seller's Contract Includes an "As Is" Disclaimer – Now What?" - Desert Mirage Magazine, August 2013

Win Equine law Books!

We're always on the lookout for good article and update ideas for the Equine Law Blog. Please share yours! We'll give the sender of best tip of the month a free copy of Julie Fershtman's books, EQUINE LAW & HORSE SENSE and MORE EQUINE LAW & HORSE SENSE. Click here to send your ideas. [For more info on these and other publications written by Julie Fershtman, please visit and or call her directly at (248) 785-4731.]

Large Step Forward for the Horse Industry

We applaud the American Horse Council ( for its national marketing initiative for the horse industry. The AHC joined together ten national associations and large corporate industry stakeholders to make this happen. We await its marketing plan, which will propose ways to help people become more interested in horses and equine activities, either as participants or spectators.


Did you know Julie Fershtman has spoken at the American Horse Council Annual Meeting, Equine Affaire, Midwest Horse Fair, Equitana USA, US Dressage Federation Annual Meeting, North American Riding for the Handicapped (now PATH International) Annual Meeting, American Morgan Horse Association Annual Meeting, American Paint Horse Association Annual Meeting, US Pony Clubs, Inc.'s Annual Meeting, All-American Quarter Horse Congress, American Youth Horse Council Annual Meeting, American Riding Instructors Association Annual Meeting, CHA Annual Meeting, and numerous others? Consider signing her up for your convention. Contact Julie.

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