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Equine Gift? Equine Lease? Stop the Guesswork

For years, we’ve received calls like these:

  • “I ‘free leased’ my horse to a friend, but now she refuses to return my horse.”
  • “A neighbor let me ‘rescue’ her horse because she could no longer take care of him. Now I want to sell him, but my neighbor says I can’t do this.”

In each situation, the parties had no written contract, and nobody was ready or able to undergo an intense and costly legal battle that might follow.

Equine transactions are ripe for a legal dispute when the parties have no written contract and a completely different understanding of the same transaction. Without a contract or agreement explaining the transaction and what the parties’ intended, these types of legal matters can become lawsuits in which the outcome is never predictable. What is a virtual guarantee is that in a court of law the dispute will never be quick, easy, or cheap to litigate. 

Getting it in Writing

A written agreement can help avoid equine ownership disputes. The agreement can include, for example:

  • Who owns the horse
  • Whether the horse is being given away or leased
  • If the horse is being given away, the parties can sign a simple bill of sale
  • If the horse is being leased, the duration (term) of the lease and how, or if, the lease is renewed for another term
  • If the horse is being leased, details regarding what the lessee can do and expenses the lessee is expected to pay
  • For leases, the contract can also include a mediation clause (see below)

Other posts in this blog have addressed equine leases and perils of verbal equine contracts.

Mediation of an Equine Ownership Dispute

Mediation can resolve many kinds of legal disputes. Through the mediation process, a neutral person can attempt to help the parties resolve their dispute. One well-known mediation service is this.

The problem is, once parties become embroiled in a legal dispute, they’re often unwilling to agree on anything – even mediation. A written contract can preserve the right to mediate. For example, the contract can require the parties to submit disputes to non-binding mediation before a lawsuit can be filed. Depending on the contract, the parties can also specify the location of mediation, the service providing it, and the parties’ obligation to share equally in mediation costs.

Legal disputes involving equine ownership can be especially complex, and variations can exist on a state-by-state basis. Direct your questions to a knowledgeable lawyer.

Categories: Contracts, Lawsuit, Sales/Disputes

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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.

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. 

THE NATION'S MOST SOUGHT-AFTER EQUINE LAW SPEAKER

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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