{ Banner Image }

Stablemen’s Lien Laws – Part 1: What They Are

Almost all states have laws on the books that are specifically designed to give lien rights to horse boarding stables.  Some of these laws also give special lien rights to people who provide services to horses, such as veterinarians or farriers.  These laws are often referred to as “stablemen’s lien laws” or “agisters lien laws.”  They differ widely across the country and usually explain:

  • Whether a stable can have a lien on a boarded horse.
  • How the stable can secure a lien on a boarded horse.
  • How many months must pass without payment of board before a stable can enforce its lien rights by selling the horse or by sending notices announcing a sale.
  • Whether the stablemen’s lien sale must take place through a public auction, “public sale,” private auction on the stable’s property, or through other means.
  • What procedures, if any, the stable must undertake before the horse can be sold to satisfy the debt.  For example, in some states the stable must send special notice letters to the non-paying horse owner.  Other states, such as Ohio, require the stable to advertise legal notices of the forthcoming sale in the local newspaper.  A few others, such as California and Massachusetts, may require the stable to go to court and ask a judge to approve a lien sale before it takes place.
  • Who must conduct the sale.  Some laws requires a court officer to do this, and others may allow a public auction sale).
  • Whether the stable may insist on keeping the boarded horse in its possession before the sale occurs.  For example, Wisconsin and Michigan are two of many states that allow stables to keep possession of the boarded horses until they have been fully paid.
  • What, if anything, the stable must do after the sale if the sale brings in more money than the amount of the debt.  Some states, such as Texas, require the stable to refund any excess money to the horse owner.

What is a Lien?

At the heart of the stablemen’s laws is a lien.  A “lien” is a legal claim to hold onto or to sell certain types of property belonging to someone else, as security for payment of a debt.  When applied to a horse, the lien makes the horse become collateral to secure the payment of board (and sometimes, depending on the law, to secure payment of related charges, such as training fees).  Those who hold liens often have the power to hold onto the property and to keep it from being sold, transferred, or moved.  What also makes liens especially powerful is that they can potentially allow the one who holds them the right to sell off the property.

These laws can be complicated and vary widely from state to state.  Stables seeking to utilize these laws for a non-paying boarder must follow the applicable law to the letter.  Legal counsel can be a must.  Part II, which I will publish next week, discusses how these laws differ.

Categories: Boarding, Regulatory, Sales/Disputes, Veterinary Malpractice

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.

View All Posts by Author ›

Type the following characters: mike, foxtrot, three, niner, niner, niner

* Indicates a required field.

Subscribe to RSS»
Get Updates By Email:

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.

Follow Us on Twitter!

Follow us for updates regarding news, cases, disputes, and issues regarding Equine Law. @horselawyers