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Equine Leases – Avoiding Disputes When They End

What happens when an equine lease ends, but the lessee refuses to return the horse?  Can the lessor (the “lessor is the one who owns the horse and leases it to another) simply enter the premises and remove it?  A lessor owns the horse, and one would expect that he or she can simply re-claim the property, even if it means entering someone else's land and taking away the horse.  Be careful!

Problems can occur, especially when a lease agreement is not in writing.  For example, what if the “lessee” (the “lessee” is the one who takes possession of the leased horse under the terms of the lease agreement) thought he bought the horse?  Or, what if the lessee thought the lease was not over?

Risks

Lessors who attempt to repossess their horse take risks, even if they are certain they are proceeding properly.  If the lessee denies that the lease has ended or if the lessee claims ownership of the horse, the lessor who tries to repossess under these circumstances could be faced with charges of criminal trespass and/or theft.

For lessors seeking to re-claim their horse, the safest approach is to consult with a lawyer and consider bringing a civil lawsuit in which a final, enforceable court ruling allows the horse to change hands.  If both parties have totally different understandings of the same transaction, unfortunately, the outcome of a case will never be certain.  What is certain is that the legal battle will not be quick, easy, or cheap to resolve.

Suggestions to Avoid the Problem

Legal disputes over possession when a lease ends can be prevented if the parties have a carefully worded written contract.  The contract can cover several elements, such as:

  • Who owns the horse, and who is permitted to use it.
  • Where the horse must be kept during the term of the lease arrangement.
  • When the lease arrangement begins and ends, whether it can be extended, and how it can be extended.
  • How the horse can and cannot be used.
  • Whether the lessor can visit or inspect the horse.
  • The standard of care that the horse must receive while the lease is in effect.
  • Who must pay any extraordinary expenses while the lease arrangement is in effect, such as if the horse becomes seriously injured or requires colic surgery.
  • A release of liability from the one using the horse (where allowed by law).
  • Whether the horse will be insured with equine insurance during the lease arrangement and whether any proceeds, if paid, are to be shared.
  • At the end of the lease arrangement, who must return the horse, where, and at whose expense.

These are provisions for a very basic equine lease agreement.  Leases can be much more complex, depending on the nature of the arrangement and the interests of the parties involved.  The legal fee to prevent disputes through a lease agreement is a small fraction of the legal fee to resolve a dispute.

If you have any issue with an equine lease or have any questions, please give me a call or send me an email using the form below.

Categories: Contracts, 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.

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. 

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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