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Selling Horses on a Payment Plan? Leasing Your Horse to Someone? Here's an Advance Planning Checklist

Many people sell their horses on an installment basis or lease out their horses to others for a span of months or years. Frequently, these arrangements are mutually beneficial. But problems can, and do, occur – and they're sometimes very serious. Careful advance planning could either eliminate these problems or reduce their severity.

Risks of Payment Plans

A few years ago, this blog explored the law of installment payments in a three-part series, which is available here (part one, part two, part three). Some potential risks and problems are:

  • The buyer might have no interest in paying the seller, and the seller will never again see his horse – or payment.
  • The buyer might be unable to make the monthly payments.
  • Sellers who try to re-claim their horse from the non-paying buyer might find themselves arrested for trespass – and sometimes even theft.
  • Before the horse is paid off, the horse might injure somebody, and the injured person could potentially bring a lawsuit against the seller, even though the seller might be across the country.

Risks of Leasing

Leasing arrangements bring numerous risks to the horse owner who agrees to lease out her horse. This blog has, over the years, explored them, as well (Equine Leases – Common Problems and How to Avoid Them). The risks, some of which can also apply to installment sales, include:

  • During the lease, the horse could become injured or ill, and the parties might disagree over who pays the veterinary bills – and for how long.
  • The lessee might neglect the horse.
  • The horse could injure somebody while in the lessee's custody, and that person might sue the lessor (horse owner) and lessee.
  • The lessee might file a lawsuit after falling or becoming injured from the horse.
  • Somebody else might be injured by the horse and sue the lessor and lessee.

Advance Planning Checklist

For lessors and installment sale sellers, we offer a short checklist of some ideas to consider:

  • Do you know the buyer or lessee? Have you investigated the person's history and integrity through reliable sources?
  • Are you using a written contract? Is it sufficiently detailed? Does it comply with the laws of the applicable state?
  • Does the transaction call for the installment sale buyer or lessee to sign a liability release (where allowed by law)?
  • If the horse will be handled or ridden by others, such as a trainer or family member of the buyer or lessee, should that person also sign a liability release (where allowed by law)?
  • Does the seller or lessor have proper liability insurance for his or her protection?
  • Should the seller or lessor seek legal advice to make sure that his or her interests are protected?
  • If the horse is insured with a policy of mortality insurance, does the other party know this? Will the installment sale buyer or lessee help the horse owner comply with obligations under the insurance policy (such as immediately notifying the insurer if the horse becomes injured, lame, or ill)? If a claim is made under the policy, does the contract address the issue of who can receive payment?

This list is not meant to be exhaustive. Plan ahead and stay safe!

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

Categories: Liability, Sales/Disputes

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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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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