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Damage Caused by Boarded Horses -- Who Pays for It?

Broken pasture fences, broken gates, stall dividers kicked through, wash rack hoses and nozzles broken, stall walls bitten through, stall doors broken off of their hinges. 

For many boarding stables, breaks and damages to the property like these are to be expected. The question is, who should pay for them? How should a boarding contract address this issue?

Certainly, boarding stable owners and managers have their own preferences about the cost of repairs.  This article discusses options for boarding contracts involving repair costs for damage to the property caused by boarded horses.  

Option One: Boarding Stable Pays for Everything

For some boarding stable owners, repairing damage around the stable is simply the cost of doing business, and the stable will pay for all damages when they occur, regardless of amount. Possibly, the stable may have planned ahead for these expenses by including an extra amount in its monthly boarding fee for anticipated repair costs. This option also takes into account the possibility that the stable might be unable to identify which horse caused the damage at issue.

Option Two: Shared Expense

Boarding stable owners might view damage as a shared expense between the stable and horse owner, depending on the size of the repair bill. A boarding contract could state, for example, that the boarding stable pays for all damage repairs, including materials and labor, up to $150, and thereafter the owner must reimburse the stable for repair costs exceeding this amount. Certainly, the stable’s maximum amount in the contract will depend on its preferences.

Option Three: Owner Pays for All Damages

For some stable owners, the horse owner must pay for (or even arrange) all repairs.  In their contracts, these stables can specify that the stable will bill the horse owner for reimbursement for all damage the boarded horse does to the facilities (except for reasonable wear and tear).  Provisions like this are more commonly found in boarding arrangements where the owner, not the stable, provides care to the horse on the stable’s property.  


Horse owners and stable owners benefit from carefully written boarding contracts. The issue of damages on the property is one of many fine points that a thorough boarding contract can address. 

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

Categories: Billing/Payment, Did you Know?, Liability

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 and, and

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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 this week 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.

Honors & Recognitions

Congratulations, Julie! We're proud to share that Julie Fershtman has received two prestigious awards.

On April 13, 2013, she received the American Youth Horse Council's 2013 "Distinguished Service" Award. As the award itself states, she received it "[i]n recognition of years of dedicated service to the American Youth Horse Council and tireless efforts to touch the lives of youth involved with horses." For more information about the American Youth Horse Council, please visit

On May 7, 2013, Julie received the 2013 "Industry Award" from the Michigan Equine Partnership for her work over the years supporting legislation to promote and protect the Michigan equine industry. For more information about the Michigan Equine Partnership, please visit


We're pleased to share that Julie just won a case in Michigan where she defended a boarding and training stable that was sued by a visitor who was injured in the barn aisle. Julie cautions that this case might have been avoided altogether if the stable required every visitor to sign its waiver/release of liability. (Julie, interestingly, drafted that stable's release document years ago but the stable only presented it to customers.) Make sure that your release is well-worded and complies with the laws of your state.

Other Articles

"The Seller's Contract Includes an "As Is" Disclaimer – Now What?" - Desert Mirage Magazine, August 2013

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Large Step Forward for the Horse Industry

We applaud the American Horse Council ( for its national marketing initiative for the horse industry. The AHC joined together ten national associations and large corporate industry stakeholders to make this happen. We await its marketing plan, which will propose ways to help people become more interested in horses and equine activities, either as participants or spectators.


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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