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Stablemen’s Lien Laws – Part 2: How They Differ

Stables looking to collect past-due board by invoking a stablemen’s lien law should take caution.

Almost all states have laws on the books that are specifically designed to give lien rights to horse boarding stables.  State laws differ significantly as to stables’ rights when board has not been paid.  Here are some examples of how the laws differ:

Laws that Give Stables an Automatic Lien

Laws in some states give stables a lien automatically, with no obligation to file anything, until the stable is paid in full.  These laws can also give the stable the right to insist on continued possession of the horse until the debt is paid off.  For example:

  • Michigan Compiled Laws Section 570.185, states, in part: “Whenever any person shall deliver to any ... person any horse ... to be kept or cared for, such ... person shall have a lien thereon for the just value of ... the keeping and care of such animals, and may retain possession of the same until such charges are paid.”
  • Nevada Statutes, title 9, Chapter 108.540, states, in part: “Any person furnishing feed, pasture or otherwise boarding any animal or animals, at the request or with the consent of the owner or his representative, has a lien upon the animal or animals, and may retain possession thereof until the sum due for the feed, pasture or board has been paid.”

These laws also discuss how and when a stable can sell of a horse to satisfy a debt.

Laws that Require Court Action

Some laws require stables to go to court before they can take action in selling off a horse due to unpaid board.  For example:

  • Missouri Statutes, Title XXVII, Section 430.160, regarding enforcement of liens, requires stables that claim a lien to make a special filing in the circuit court within its county.  Thereafter, the non-paying boarder is notified of the filing, and the matter is brought to trial on the issue of the debt and the stable’s rights.  If the stable wins, it could receive the right to sell the boarded horse.
  • Similarly, Arizona Statutes, Chapter 11, § 3-1295, states, in part: “If possession continues for twenty days after the charges accrue, and the charges have not been paid, the person retaining possession of the stock may perfect the amount of the lien by filing an action in either superior court or justice court, according to the amount in controversy, in the jurisdiction of the holder of the stock. ... If the prevailing party does not receive payment due within ten days after the final judgment of the court, the prevailing party becomes the owner of the stock. The court shall award the prevailing party court costs and reasonable attorney's fees.”

Stables That Require Notice and a Public Sale

Some laws allow stables to hold a horse when board has not been paid and then sell the horse without first going to court.  For example, Connecticut Statutes, Ch. 847, § 49-70, states, in part: “When a special agreement has been made between the owner of any animals ... and any person who keeps and feeds such animals, regarding the price of such keeping, such animals shall be subject to a lien, for the price of such keeping, in favor of the person keeping the same; and such person so keeping such animals may detain the same until such debt is paid; and, if it is not paid within thirty days after it is due, he may sell such animals ... at public auction, upon giving written notice to the owner of the time and place of such sale at least six days before such sale, and apply the proceeds to the payment of such debts, returning the surplus, if any, to such owner.”

Because of these and many other differences among the laws, stables should make sure to read carefully the law that applies to them.  Because the stablemen’s lien laws can be complex, and because of the harsh penalties that could potentially follow if stables violate them, it makes good sense to hire a lawyer to protect your rights.

Categories: Boarding, Regulatory, 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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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.”

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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

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

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

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