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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