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What to Consider Before an Equine Professional Does Business on Your Property

An elderly widow lives alone on the family farm. The horse barn has been empty since the children moved out. Recently, an equine professional asked to rent the horse facility to run a boarding, training, and lesson business. Should this arrangement proceed? 

Risks of Horse Property Rental Arrangements

For property owners, these kinds of arrangements pose risks. Let’s look at some of them.


For both parties, liability is the biggest risk. But even though the widow property owner here would have no involvement in the equine professional’s business, she’ll probably be named in a personal injury lawsuit, anyway. This means, for example, that if the professional forgets to close a gate, and a horse runs loose into the road and collides with a motorist, the injured motorist’s lawyer could very well target the professional and the land owner. When this happens, who will pay the land owner’s legal fees? Who will pay a judgment or settlement?


In this example, the property owner probably only has homeowner’s or farm owner’s insurance. Her insurance coverage probably excludes liabilities arising from a “business pursuit,” but if she accepts rent payments from the equine professional, her insurer would probably consider this a “business pursuit.” She risks having no coverage. To protect herself in the arrangement, she’ll need business insurance coverage, such as a commercial general liability insurance.


Years ago, the horse farm was a family-run horse operation. But now, the equine professional wants to run a business out of it. Local zoning ordinances might not allow this. Or, the laws might require the property to be modified with special lights, roads, signs, handicapped ramps, or others.

Protecting Yourself With Contracts

Equine property rental arrangements call for detailed contracts. Here are just a few of the many elements to consider:

  • Permitted Uses. What can the equine professional do, or not do? The contract can set limits for the professional’s activities on the property.
  • Zoning. A contract can require the professional’s compliance with zoning and land use ordinances, fire codes, and other local laws.
  • Lease Term/Termination. The contract can specify its duration and when it can be terminated. It can also address what actions can be taken (also called “remedies”) if either party fails to honor certain important obligations.
  • Insurance. The contract can address who must buy the commercial liability insurance and who must be listed as “additional named insureds” on the policies. For their protection, however, both parties might want to determine whether they are properly insured.
  • Liability releases. Aside from any liability release that the landowner might require the professional to sign on his or her own behalf, the land owner can also demand that the professional require everyone who enters the property sign a release of liability (where allowed by law). Who writes the release, who presents it, and who it names are among the factors for the parties to consider addressing in their contract.
  • Assignment and Sub-Leasing. The contract can address whether or not the professional can assign or sub-lease it to someone else.

With careful advance planning and thorough contracts, a facility use arrangement can work well for everybody.

This blog post does not constitute legal advice. When questions arise based on specific situations, direct them to a knowledgeable attorney.

Categories: Contracts, Insurance, Liability, Zoning & Land Use

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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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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