Boarding Contracts

No one wants to add complication and aggravation to a business or pleasure activity, and for many horse enthusiasts, the use of written boarding contracts is viewed as providing more hassle than benefit. After all, you might think, what is the

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No one wants to add complication and aggravation to a business or pleasure activity, and for many horse enthusiasts, the use of written boarding contracts is viewed as providing more hassle than benefit. After all, you might think, what is the worst thing that can happen to me if I continue to do business as usual, without written agreements with my boarders? For starters, you might be responsible for a hefty veterinary bill that a reluctant client refuses to pay, you might have to absorb unpaid board bills with no legal recourse, or you might face lawsuits arising from a variety of situations.


Utilizing written boarding contracts will not protect you from everything that might go wrong; nothing can do that. Proper use of well-drafted written contracts can allow you to predict the outcome when something unexpected happens. Being surprised might be a treat on your birthday, but the fewer surprises you have to face where your farm and horses are concerned, the better off you are.


A contract is nothing more than a set of promises between the parties, a promise by one person to do something in return for a second person’s promise to do something else. A valid contract either can be written or oral. It can be as simple as an agreement between two people outlined on a cocktail napkin, or as complicated as a multi-page, multi-party document crammed to the four corners with incomprehensible fine-print legalese. A valid contract creates legal obligations between the parties, and allows for enforcement in court if the contract is broken.


The value of a valid, enforceable contract is that it allows the parties to avoid surprise in the event a business transaction does not proceed as planned. While even a professionally drafted contract cannot anticipate every potential problem, a well-drafted contract should cover the problems most likely to occur

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Written by:

Milt Toby was an author and attorney who wrote about horses and legal issues affecting the equine industry for more than 40 years. Former Chair of the Kentucky Bar Association’s Equine Law Section, Toby wrote 10 nonfiction books, including national award winners Dancer’s Image and Noor. You can read more about him at TheHorse.com/1122392.

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