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What You Wish You Considered for Your Equine Lease

Equine lease transactions have become increasingly popular. Surprisingly, some people continue to lease horses merely on a handshake or use very short lease agreements, only to encounter costly problems later. Over the years, several people who have contacted us with equine lease disputes wished their contract had been more detailed. Detailed contracts can help avoid disputes, which can save very substantial amounts of money.

Recognizing that equine lease transactions differ, here are a few items to consider:

Payment Obligations (and When They Stop)

Does the document make clear what the lessee is expected to pay during the lease term – and possibly afterwards? Aside from mentioning who pays for the horse’s routine veterinary care, does the lease address non-routine veterinary expenses the lessee must pay, and for how long, if the leased horse becomes injured, lame, or ill during the lease term?

Restrictions on Use and Location

Equine leases can address restrictions on use of the horse, such as:

  • Training and showing. Can the horse, for example, be jumped over 3’6” in training or showing?
  • Recreational uses. Can the lessee take the horse on trail rides?
  • Permitted riders. Can the lessee allow others to ride the horse? Some lessors, usually due to liability concerns, forbid this.
  • Permitted horse show events. Does the lessor want to restrict the type or number of events in which the horse can be shown
  • Breeding. Is the lessee allowed to breed the horse? Can the lessee flush an embryo from a leased mare and keep the resulting foal? Can the lessee collect the stallion and freeze semen for the lessee’s use, or sale, later on? Although some leases specifically apply to breeding stock, the parties can consider restrictions, if any, in the document.
  • Restricted trainers. Is the lessor opposed to allowing certain trainers to ride, handle, or work with the leased horse?
  • Location. Do the parties intend to keep the horse only at a specified location, except in emergencies?

Equine Insurance

Equine insurance can pose troublesome issues for lease transactions. As a matter of law, lessees do not own the horse they lease, and they cannot buy equine insurance for themselves. Insurers have issued mortality policies naming both the lessor and lessee as insured parties. The parties might want their lease agreement to address who pays the insurance premium and how insurance proceeds (if any) from claims are to be distributed.

Standard and Quality of Care

Lessors fear that the lessee will skimp on important veterinary or farrier attention or, worse, neglect the horse. (This blog has written on this issue.) In an effort to avoid these problems, equine leases can specify a standard of care that the lessee is expected to follow in the horse’s care and keeping. As one example, for valuable, well-trained show horses, the lease can specify that the lessee agrees to provide the horse with “a high quality of care and humane treatment that is customarily given to top quality show horses in (a particular breed or discipline).” In addition, lessors may want to detail the type of care expected of the leased horse, such as the type and quantity of feed, required supplements, type of hay, turnout (individual or group), blankets, use of splint boots/protective wraps, and more.

One Lawyer Representing Both Lessor and Lessee?

Lessors and lessees have different interests in equine lease transactions. Certainly, the jurisdiction’s ethical regulations might permit a lawyer to represent both sides, with proper advance disclosures, waivers, and written consent, but the risk exists that protections could be compromised if both parties use the same lawyer. For their protection, lessors and lessees should secure separate counsel.

Attorney Fees

When people enter into equine leases, they don’t expect to become embroiled in a dispute. Yet, disputes occur. Lawsuits are expensive and, with very few exceptions, each party must pay its own legal fees. Because of this, the parties can consider including an attorney fee clause in their lease. This blog has discussed attorney fee clauses, and how they differ. Learn more here.


Equine lease arrangements can be complex, generating a host of risks, disputes, and liabilities. Plan ahead, protect yourself, and consider securing knowledgeable legal counsel. 

Categories: Contracts, Insurance

Photo of Julie I. Fershtman

is considered to be one of the nation's leading attorneys in the field of equine law. She has successfully tried equine cases before juries in four states. A frequent author and speaker on legal issues, she has written over 400 published articles, four 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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Fershtman’s Book Wins National Award

Julie Fershtman’s latest book, Equine Law and Horse Sense, won its fourth national award on May 31, 2021. It was selected to receive a "Finalist" Medal in the 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. 

The 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards are presented by Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group (www.IBPPG.com), which is the largest International awards program for indie authors and independent publishers. Here’s a link for the complete list of 2021 winners and finalists: https://www.indiebookawards.com/winners.php?year=2021 

Fershtman’s Book Receives Award

Julie Fershtman’s book, Equine Law & Horse Sense, published by the American Bar Association, has been selected to receive a 2020 NYC Big Book Award in the category of “Reference” books.

The NYC Big Book Awards draws nominations world-wide. This is the third award for Fershtman’s book since its publication last year. Here is a link for more information, and to see the list of winners: https://www.nycbigbookaward.com/2020winners

Information on the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/164105493X/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i0

Fershtman’s Book Receives Award

Julie Fershtman’s book, Equine La & Horse Sense, published by the American Bar Association, has been selected to receive a 2020 NYC Big Book Award in the category of “Reference” books.

The NYC Big Book Awards draws nominations world-wide. This is the third award for Fershtman’s book since its publication last year. Here is a link for more information, and to see the list of winners: https://www.nycbigbookaward.com/2020winners

Information on the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/164105493X/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i0

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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