Q: I have a nice four-stall barn and outdoor ring at home where I’ve kept my two horses for years. Now, I’d love to make a little extra income by boarding an additional horse or two. Legally, is there anything I need to do before I take my first boarder?
Armand Leone: Yes, beginning to board horses is not something that should be taken too lightly, as—even though you view it as just a bit of extra income on the side—it is considered operating a business, and proper measures should be taken accordingly.
Should something happen to one of your boarder’s while they are riding in your ring, you likely will not have insurance coverage through your homeowner or property insurance policy. Instead, prior to accepting boarders, you’ll need to do look into your commercial liability insurance options and purchase the appropriate coverage or policy endorsement.
Next, it’s highly recommended to have prepared both a liability release and a boarding contract. The liability release should be signed by anyone engaging in equine activity on your property, including your future boarders and their friends and family members. Depending on your state of residence, Equine Activity Liability Act warning signs may also need to be hung on your property. It should also be noted, that liability releases and proper liability signage are still not a substitute for liability insurance.
The boarding contract should include the fees and terms, the appropriate Equine Activity Liability Act verbiage, a hold harmless agreement, a right of lien, and spaces for a horse description, emergency contacts, authorization for emergency care, and equine insurance information. A well-written contract can go a long way in helping to set expectations for the boarder, as well as protecting you should the boarder break the agreement, not pay, or present a liability.
Finally, you may also want to discuss with your lawyer whether you should set up an LLC or a corporation for your boarding venture. Using a limited liability company can help further protect your personal assets from any lawsuit. From there, you are legally ready to begin boarding!
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About the Author
Armand Leone is the founding partner of Leone Equestrian Law LLC, a New Jersey-based law firm that provides legal services and consultation for equestrian professionals ranging from riders and trainers to owners and show managers in the FEI disciplines on a wide variety of issues. Learn more about Leone Equestrian Law LLC at equestriancounsel.com.