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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 www.fershtmanlaw.com and www.equinelaw.net, and www.equinelaw.info.

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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 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.

Julie Fershtman’s Recent and Upcoming Equine Law Speaking Engagements Include:

National Conference on Equine Law in Louisville, Kentucky on April 29, 2020. Topic will be on Waivers/Releases of Liability Involving Minor Participants. 

U.S. Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) Annual Convention in Denver, Colorado on December 10, 2019. Topic will be on Equine Liability. 

IRMI Emmett J. Vaughan Agribusiness Conference (“AgriCon”) in Sacramento, CA (April 2019), and Richmond, VA (June 2019) and in Des Moines, IA (September 2019), on topics of “Equine Activity Liability Acts” and “Equine Mortality Insurance Disputes.”

National Conference on Equine Law in May 2019 in Lexington, KY, on the topic of “Equine Activity Liability Act Updates” and liabilities involving hosting of equine clinics. 

Agricultural Claims Conference in Kansas City, MO, in March 2019 on topics of “Loose Livestock Liabilities.”

2018 American Bar Association Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL, on “Equine Mortality Coverage and Disputes.”

November 2018, American Horse Council webinar on “Equine Liability.”

Honors & Recognitions

Equine lawyer, Julie Fershtman, has received these prestigious equine industry awards from respected equine organizations:

"Excellence in the Advancement of Animal Law Award" - American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Law Section Animal Law Committee

"Distinguished Service Award" - American Youth Horse Council

"Industry Service Award" - Michigan Equine Partnership

"Catalyst Award"- Michigan Horse Council

"Outstanding Achievement Award" - American Riding Instructors Association 

"Partner in Safety Award" - American Riding Instructors Association 

"Associate Service Award" - United Professional Horseman's Association

"National Partnership in Safety" Award" - Certified Horsemanship Association 

What our Equine Law Services can Provide

Handling breach of contract, fraud/ misrepresentation, commercial code, and other claims involving equine-related transactions including purchases/sales, leases, mare leases/foal transfers, and partnerships.

Litigating disputes in court or through alternative dispute resolution (arbitration, mediation, facilitation).

Defending equine/farm/equestrian industry professionals,  businesses, and associations in personal injury claims and lawsuits.

Drafting and negotiating contracts for boarding, training, sales, waivers/releases, leases, and numerous other equine-related transactions.

Representing and advising insurers on  coverage and policy language as well as litigation;

Advising equine industry clubs and associations regarding management, rules, bylaws, disputes, and regulations.

Representing some of the equine industry's top trainers, competitors, stables, and associations.

Counseling industry professionals, stable managers, and individual horse owners. 


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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