Horse Boarders’ Rights (or Lack Thereof)

What are your rights when you’re boarding your horse?
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At Equine Legal Solutions, we receive a lot of calls from horse owners who are unhappy with a situation at their boarding stable and want to know their “legal rights.” The short answer is that boarders have only the legal rights given to them by their boarding contract (if they have one) and relevant case law. Note that the boarder not having received a copy of the contract or having lost their copy of the contract doesn’t change the boarder’s legal rights.

What if the boarder doesn’t have a written boarding contract? The answer is that at best, they have a verbal boarding contract (the terms of which will be very hard to prove). Aside from that, they can rely only on relevant case law to provide them with any legal recourse, such as if the boarding stable was negligent in caring for their horse (and the horse suffered injury or death as a result).

On occasion, boarders have spoken =to various friends and relatives and come up with the idea that their state’s landlord/tenant law applies. That’s just flat wrong. Unless the boarder lives on the property, landlord/tenant law won’t apply to a horse boarding dispute. In the four states where we practice, California, New York, Oregon, and Washington, there are no laws governing horse boarding, other than animal cruelty statutes and local zoning regulations governing use of the property.

Generally, questions about horse boarders’ legal rights fall into three categories: Terminating the boarding relationship, raising board prices and what the boarding stable is required to provide for boarders and their horses

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Written by:

Rachel Kosmal McCart is the founder and principal attorney of Equine Legal Solutions, PC (ELS), an equine law firm based near Portland, Ore. McCart is a graduate of the Duke University School of Law and licensed to practice in four states: California, New York, Oregon, and Washington. She is also admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. ELS represents clients in litigation, helps resolve equine disputes, drafts customized equine contracts, represents clients in horse industry disciplinary hearings, and incorporates equine businesses. Learn more at

6 Responses

  1. re: Horse Boarders’ Rights (or Lack Thereof)

     My horse was subject to the German Shepherd owned by the owner ofthe farm, and has had 3 injuries from said dog chasing him.  The result is a damaged tedon sheath on the right hind medial & lateral,and just below the hock.  It is a

  2. re: Horse Boarders’ Rights (or Lack Thereof)

    Through the years, I have kept my horses at a variety of stables, from private, to commercial, to club-run. (My husband was military and we moved a lot.) Except for the club stables (which require membership and have by-laws) I have rarely had a contra

  3. re: Horse Boarders’ Rights (or Lack Thereof)

    Hi, folks.  I can’t comment specifically on CO and PA law, because I do not practice law in those states, but in the four states where I do practice, boarding stable owners typically have an automatic lien on horses in their possession for unpaid

  4. re: Horse Boarders’ Rights (or Lack Thereof)

    The contract states if your 30 days late with payment. I’m mainly wondering about the lack of due process of law. Can they just make up a reason?

    These are not real horse people. They also state in contract they can quarantine your horse if you

  5. re: Horse Boarders’ Rights (or Lack Thereof)

    Judi, in Colorado, if the boarder is in arrears of payment on board, the stable owner can declare the horse abandoned and become the legal owner.  I’m not sure exactly the process, but I’ve known someone who did this.  Of course the main prob

  6. re: Horse Boarders’ Rights (or Lack Thereof)

    Can a boarding facility legal place a lien on a horse without due process of law? My boarding contract states this, when I question it I was told its a law only in existence for 4 years yet no one had heard of it before. I live in PA

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