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Taking a boarder into your horse stables can be a great way to socialize your own horses. It can even bring in some extra cash. It can also be a huge favor for friends needing a place to board their horses. But should you board your friend’s horses? And if you can, is there a right way to do it?
More horses at your stables means more risk, and adding that layer of friendship can make things even trickier. As you may have seen in An Equine Lawyer’s Tips for Horse Trailer Ride Shares, what starts out as a friendly favor can sometimes land you in a legal battle. Brushing up on the legality of boarding someone else’s horse can save you a headache (and a lot of money) in the long run.
As long as you take some necessary precautions to prepare your farm, your horses, and your friends, this could be a hassle-free experience. But, if you don’t cover your legal bases before boarding your friend’s horse at your horse farm, things can quickly go south.
We’re breaking down everything you need to know about letting your friends board their horses with you. That way, you’re legally prepared in case of an accident.
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If you aren’t yet familiar with equine insurance, check out this post to start with the basics. If you already have an insurance policy, it is important to note a few distinctions in your coverage that might come up when boarding your friends’ horses.
The biggest issue I typically see in this scenario is boarder’s relying on their homeowners’ insurance policy to cover horse-related accidents. The problem is, if you accept compensation of any kind for boarding someone’s horse, your insurance provider considers this commercial use of property.
In other words, your homeowner’s policy will not cover any accidents that occur during boarding if they see it as a business transaction. Even something so little as reimbursement for feed used during boarding could be seen as compensation for boarding a friend’s horse in your stables.
If any sort of accident were to occur that injured your friend or their horse, you could be held responsible, and that’s a tough place to be without insurance coverage. Without an insurance policy that covers basic boarding operations, all of your personal assets will be at risk.
Talk to your insurance provider to find a policy that fits your needs and be sure to read up on other scenarios where equine insurance can save the day here.
It’s not every day that you have to ask your friends to sign legal paperwork, so it may feel like an awkward question. But, here at Fairway Stables, we always recommend having your boarders sign a liability release waiver.
No one ever suspects that their friend would sue them. Why would they? But when horses are involved and accidents happen, things get very expensive very quickly. Even if your friend has no desire to enter into a legal battle with you, their insurance will no doubt be looking for someone to foot the bill.
By having anyone who boards with you sign a simple liability release waiver, you can save yourself time, trouble, and lots of money. A well-drafted liability release waiver encourages people not to sue, and greatly helps your defense if they do.
So how do you ask? Asking a friend to sign a legal document doesn’t really flow into the conversation, but it doesn’t have to sound defensive or accusatory. It’s easiest to have your friend sign a liability release waiver when discussing the details of boarding. Just let them know your insurance provider requires it in case of any accidents. If anything, you will seem like a more responsible boarder.
Another seemingly uncomfortable topic, do you need to have a boarding contract for your friends? It may feel unnecessary to ask your friend to sign even more paperwork for what seems like a simple favor. However, putting the details of boarding in writing can clarify both party’s expectations. It never hurts to be on the same page with someone when you are looking after their horse.
While the concept of a boarding contract may seem awkward between friends, it’s far less awkward than asking about payment after the fact, for example. A written boarding contract gives you and your friend a hard document to refer back to when discussing details like payments and due dates.
A boarding contract also helps to define each person’s responsibilities throughout the boarding process. If you have to, pose it as a benefit to your friend because, ultimately, it’s a way to make sure their expectations are met while they’re away.
You can find boarding contract templates drafted by an equine attorney here.
Boarding contracts, liability release waivers, and equine insurance are all necessary to make sure you’re protected when accidents inevitably happen. But the best thing you can do to protect yourself and your horse farm? Manage risks before they turn into accidents.
Before you invite your friends to board their horses on your property, be sure that your facilities are in order. Double check that fences and stalls are secure, outlets are covered, and any necessary repairs have been made to your shelters. Hopefully you keep your eye out for these things anyway, but it’s always smart to be extra thorough before guests arrive.
Be sure to talk with your friend and iron out the details of their horse’s stay. Should your horses be turned out together? Is their horse an escape artist? How much supervision do they need? Will your friend bring their own feed? When and how much should they be fed? Deciding these details ahead of time can save you a lot of accidents and headaches later.
Another important safety measure before hosting guests is to post warning signs around your property. It’s important to make sure that these signs are easily visible and clearly indicate possible dangers. To find out the proper wording and placement of warning signs, check out our post Do You Need Warning Signs on Your Property?
If you board your friend’s horses on your property, it’s a big favor. Like any big favor, it requires a little preparation. Careful planning can help avoid expensive legal battles and unfortunate fallouts between friends.
Boarding your friend’s horse doesn’t have to be complicated, and neither does the planning. Just follow these simple steps to make sure yours, your friend’s, and their horse’s needs are met before taking in your next boarder.
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