Question: I suddenly find myself with time for all the paperwork I’ve been putting off. (Thanks, COVID-19). What documents should I be focusing on to make the most of my downtime?
Armand Leone: Great question! While we are all on “stall rest” and having to stay a few strides apart from each other these days, now is a good opportunity to catch up on some chores you might have been neglecting at home. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many riders who board their horses are not able to visit the barn, so hopefully crossing these tasks off your list now will free you up for more saddle time in the future.
Here are three things you can do to pass the time at home—and still stay productive.
1. Plan for your horse’s future.
It’s not a situation that any horse owner wants to think about, but it is a good to have a plan for your horse in case something happens to you. One thing you can do is add your horse to your will. There are many different things to consider for this, so your first step might be to get in touch with an attorney who can walk you through the process. They might recommend establishing a trust for your horse in connection with the planning for your will and/or estate.
Consider choosing an attorney who specializes in equine law—they have the advantage of being more familiar with the horse world and have an understanding of the costs, obligations, and goals associated with leaving your horse with someone else upon your death. Plus, they can help walk you through some scenarios that you can stipulate in your will, such as if your horse is to be sold (and by whom), donated, or will live at a specified retirement facility. Being able to have a set plan in place for the future will give you peace of mind.
2. Organize your horse’s medical records.
If you are like many horse owners, you might store all your horse’s medical records, farrier invoices, and barn paperwork in a binder, folder, or even a giant stack on your desk. Now is a great time to eliminate all that paper clutter and have a better organization system.
You could consider going digital and utilizing handy tools or apps that make organizing and accessing your horse’s important health information more accessible. There are many different types of programs available, and some also allow you to sync your horse’s US Equestrian records with their profile. These types of digital systems would be exceptionally useful if you have multiple horses as well.
Whatever system you decide to use to organize your records, whether it’s a fresh, color-coded binder, or an app on your phone, it will save you from feeling stressed and frustrated when you’re looking for an important document in the future. If you plan to ever sell or insure your horse, you will need to have the most accurate and current information available on your horse’s medical history for the buyer or insurance provider.
3. Build your business.
If you’re a professional in the industry, now might be a good time to work on your business. Perhaps you’ve thought about putting together a syndication for one of your horses but you’re not sure how to do it. Maybe you’ve been planning to reach out to some potential sponsors, or you’d like to work out some collaborative opportunities with other members of the equestrian industry. Take the time to do some research, brainstorm new ideas for your business, network with other professionals, and seek help when you need it.
Do you already have a website and social media accounts created for your farm or business? Go through them and make sure they’re up to date. Are your latest show results included? Is all of your contact information accurate? Perhaps think about starting a blog to share news with your clients and sponsors to keep them informed.
Also, you might want to take the time to review any business paperwork such as release forms for riders, boarding agreements, and operational and safety policies at your farm. Do any of them need to be updated? Now is a great time to review those documents and make sure they’re accurate, current, and legal.
Hopefully, you can knock out some of these tedious tasks now while you are stuck at home so that you will have more time to enjoy your horse later.
Have a legal question? Submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org for the chance to be featured in a future Q&A column with Armand Leone of Leone Equestrian Law.
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, on Facebook, or by emailing email@example.com.