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What Stables and Owners Should Know About Resolving Past-Due Board Disputes

If you’re a horse boarding stable, it’s a matter of time until you encounter a customer who falls behind on board payments. Here are some ideas for owners and stables.

Boarder Options

If you have fallen behind on your board payments, it may be time to take a serious look at whether you truly can afford horse ownership. Regardless of how you try to budget expenses, horse ownership brings unplanned expenses such as a sudden injury requiring emergency veterinary care. For those who believe they can still afford to own horses, here are a few ideas:

  • Try to negotiate a payment schedule with the stable. Maybe the stable owner will give you extra time to pay off the past-due balance. When a stable allows these arrangements, particularly if the stable agrees to waive interest and late payment fees that the boarding contract might allow, all parties benefit from a written agreement. Caution: Boarders should insist on proof of every payment they make, such as cancelled checks or receipts.
  • Show good faith. Boarders who make no payments are almost certain to prompt the stable to seek drastic legal action. Boarders who try to make a stream of payments, by comparison, might encourage the stable owner to be patient.
  • Working off the debt. Some boarders arrange to work off some or all of their board fees by doing barn chores, such as cleaning stalls. Caution: Stables should consider very carefully whether these arrangements generate extra liability risks. Consult first with an attorney and insurer to determine whether you are properly protected. 
  • Use the horse in lessons. Other stables, with the boarder’s consent, use the boarder’s horse in their riding lesson program to offset board fees. Caution: Everyone should make sure they are properly protected against possible liability risks.

Stable Options

When dealing with non-paying boarders, stables have several options. The more drastic options allowed by law include the following:

  • Sue the boarder. The stable can sue the boarder to collect unpaid boarding fees. Depending on the terms of the boarding contract and the applicable state law, the stable might also be entitled to recover interest, attorney fees, and court costs. If the stable wins a judgment, the law might allow it to enforce the judgment by eventually selling off the boarded horse. Since judgment creditor laws can be complicated, stables should consult with counsel.
  • Stablemen’s lien proceedings. As this blog has explained in previous posts here, and here, most states have laws designed to allow stables certain lien rights when boarders fall behind on payments. Caution: All of these laws differ.  Before attempting to sell off a boarded horse, stables are cautioned to follow the applicable law to the letter.
  • Parting ways. Some stables would rather ask non-paying boarders to leave soon rather than allow the unpaid board debt to grow. Afterwards, stables can consider whether to sue to collect the unpaid balance. Caution: Stables that allow the horse to leave the property could lose their stablemen’s lien rights, depending on the state law.

Conclusion

Payment disputes can generate serious legal issues. Proceed carefully and seek knowledgeable counsel.

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is considered to be one of the nation's leading attorneys in the field of equine law. She has successfully tried equine cases before juries in four states. A frequent author and speaker on legal issues, she has written over 400 published articles, four 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 is considered by many to be the nation's leading expert on equine activity liability acts. Her 30-minute presentation for a recent educational webinar on equine activity liability acts for the American Horse Council is available for viewing. Please take a look, here's a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCROISSPMJs

Fershtman’s Equine Law Book Wins Fourth National Award

Julie Fershtman’s latest book, Equine Law and Horse Sense, won its fourth national award on May 31, 2021. It was selected to receive a "Finalist" Medal in the 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. 

The 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards are presented by Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group, which is the largest International awards program for indie authors and independent publishers. Here’s a link for the complete list of 2021 winners and finalists: https://www.indiebookawards.com/winners.php?year=2021 

Fershtman’s Equine Law Book Receives Third National Award

Julie Fershtman’s book, Equine Law & Horse Sense, published by the American Bar Association, has been selected to receive a 2020 NYC Big Book Award in the category of “Reference” books.

The NYC Big Book Awards draws nominations world-wide. This is the third award for Fershtman’s book since its publication last year. Here is a link for more information, and to see the list of winners: https://www.nycbigbookaward.com/2020winners

Information on the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/164105493X/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i0

Equine Blog Ranked in Feedspot

Foster Swift's Equine Law Blog was ranked #8 in Feedspot.com's "15 Best Equine Law Blogs and Websites".

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

In 2022, Julie Fershtman is scheduled to be a speaker on equine liability at these conventions:

Fershtman’s Equine Law Book Receives Second National Award

Julie Fershtman’s book, Equine Law & Horse Sense, published by the American Bar Association, has been selected to receive a 2020 NYC Big Book Award in the category of “Reference” books.

The NYC Big Book Awards draws nominations world-wide. This is the third award for Fershtman’s book since its publication last year. Here is a link for more information, and to see the list of winners: https://www.nycbigbookaward.com/2020winners

Information on the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/164105493X/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i0

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 

Some of our Equine Law Services

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 a wide variety of equine-related 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, US Hunter/Jumper Association Annual Meeting, Midwest Horse Fair, Equitana USA, US Dressage Federation Annual Meeting, North American Riding for the Handicapped (now PATH International) 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 directly.

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