News & Articles

Q&A: Letting Your Horse Be Used In Lessons

Q: I have the opportunity to reduce my monthly board payments by allowing my horse to be used in my barn’s lesson program. I love the idea, because I could really use the extra money, and my horse is generally extremely quiet and straightforward. However, I’m also a bit worried about the ‘what ifs.’ What if my horse is somehow injured in a lesson? Or what if someone falls off of him and gets hurt?

A: You’re asking all the right questions, as liability is definitely the biggest concern when entering into this sort of agreement. The farm owner likely has liability insurance and may also utilize a liability waiver designed to protect him or her; however, very rarely does this insurance or liability release protect the individual horse owner or boarder such as yourself. Therefore, you will want to ensure that you have taken the necessary precautions, and considered the options for protecting yourself and your horse.

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Getting Paid as an Equestrian Professional

It’s no secret; if you do not get paid for your horse training, boarding, or professional services, you will not be in business for long.

Horses are expensive to own and keep, and when clients don’t pay bills, those costs still must be paid. Whether it is an expensive horse that competes at the top shows or a more affordable mount for trail rides, when you provide services to a horse owner as a barn owner, trainer, veterinarian, farrier, or shipper, unpaid bills can mount quickly.

Fortunately, the law provides specific protections from clients who don’t pay their bills for most barn owners and veterinarians, and if your boarding, veterinary, training, or farrier service contract has a required security deposit, retainer, or ironclad payment clauses, you may not even need to read this article.

However, most professionals don’t have strong contractual agreements or stringent repayment provisions. Instead, some trainers and boarding farm owners tend to even operate leniently toward late payments, in no way penalizing the client should funds show up a month or two later than due.

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What Happens Next? – The Chronicle of the Horse

Show jumping today is becoming less accessible to more Americans as the costs of participating increase. This is a dangerous trend, because the wealthy rider has become the new normal. Fifty years ago, riders made their way up the ranks riding both good and bad horses owned by others; now, most grand prix riders or their families own their own horses.

The youth of today need to avoid riding on easy street. Riding only nice horses and nice courses is fun and nice to watch, but it doesn’t develop the underlying foundation a horseman needs to be a great rider. So, how can we stop the mollification of the sport?

Let kids be kids and ponies be ponies. At a young age, the least important part of riding should be showing. 4-H, U.S. Pony Clubs, riding bareback, tent pegging, jumping on and off, taking care of the ponies—these will all do more for creating a stronger generation of riders. Learning how to fall, and not fall, is so much easier when the distance to the ground is small. Learning how to get that pony over the wall or around the ring is more important than a leadline blue ribbon. Kids and ponies need to mix it up to shake out the best.

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Where Did the Grit Go? – The Chronicle of the Horse

Much like our Thelwell ponies and difficult horses taught us physical and mental toughness, the sport itself and the courses demanded it. In the second part of this series, we discuss taking care of the horse and teaching the horse.

Most shows had permanent outside courses for hunter competitions when I started riding as a junior. Devon (Pa.), Junior Essex Troop (N.J.), Ox Ridge (Conn.), Fairfield (Conn.), Chagrin Valley (Ohio), Jamesburg (N.J.) and New Brunswick (N.J.) all had outside courses with permanent brushes, walls, and posts and rails. It was galloping and jumping without the need to count strides when there were 20 of them between fences. The gates were straight, and the walls were solid. Our small ponies had to jump 2’6″ and 24′ in-and-outs. We only had a 50-50 chance of making it in one stride, but we kept trying.

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In Praise of the Difficult Ones – The Chronicle of the Horse

Visit Chronicle of the Horse to subscribe and view the article as it originally appeared. 

Recently, several prominent trainers and riders have discussed how the discipline of show jumping has changed, and it has.

Prior to 1950, American show jumping, with its standing martingales and rub classes without time allowed, was a vastly different sport than the one practiced in Europe. Then in the 1970s, Jerry Baker and Gene Mische, along with the renowned course designer Pamela Carruthers, brought European style grand prix jumping to the United States, and U.S. show jumping embarked on a meteoric rise. The Cleveland Grand Prix and the Tampa Invitational (Fla.) introduced width, water, walls, combinations and banks to our grand prix riders.

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Q&A: How Can I Protect My Horse Out On Lease?

Q: I am preparing to lease out my 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding for the first time, and, while I know and trust the lessee, I’ve heard horror stories of leased horses coming back entirely unsound or unusable. Is there anything I can do to help protect myself and my horse from that scenario?  

A: Yes, and you are already taking the first and most important step by thinking of these possible scenarios now, rather than waiting for a problem to arise! The majority of what you can do to protect both you and your horse all relates to having a detailed lease contract signed prior to the start of the lease. Here are a few components of a good lease contract that you may want to consider in direct relation to your question:

The Trainer – The most important factor in deciding whether to lease your horse is the stable the horse is going to and the trainer who will be responsible for managing the horse’s training and showing program. It is important to learn the qualifications and reputation of the trainer who will be in charge. You should specify in the lease which trainer will be responsible for the horse and that a change in trainer can only occur with your approval in writing.

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You Sold Me a Stopper!

The recent lawsuit in Florida over the sale of a potential grand prix horse, Vorst, to a wealthy Mexican owner provides an opportunity to discuss the responsibilities of sellers and risks to buyers in a horse deal. This case is especially interesting since all the parties appear to be knowledgeable and sophisticated participants in equine sport. However, a horse was sold and did not turn out as hoped. To coin a phrase from the financial industry: “Past performance is no guarantee of future performance.”

In this case, a horse was purchased for $250,000 and shipped to Mexico. At the first competition, the horse allegedly started stopping and went lame. The owner sued on the basis that there was misrepresentation as to the horse’s past performance and soundness. The seller denied the allegations and claimed that the new owner didn’t properly prepare the horse for competition, causing injury. The horse is now supposedly valued at $30,000.

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Q&A: I Want To Board Horses at Home, What Legalities Should I Know?

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?

A: 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.

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Can They Do That? Questions Surrounding the USOC Complaint from Kelley Farmer and Larry Glefke

Professional hunter riders and trainers Kelley Farmer and Larry Glefke have filed a United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Section 10 Complaint against the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) regarding their suspension by USEF following a positive drug test.

The complainants seek to have the USOC put the USEF’s National Governing Body (NGB) status on a six-month probation based on allegations that the USEF Hearing Process was unfair and did not provide due process to them as required under the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act and the USOC Bylaws. They want the USOC to intervene and find that the USEF Hearing Committee has not been compliant with its requirements to provide a fair hearing. More details can be found here and here.

But do Farmer and Glefke really have a legitimate claim with the USOC? Armand Leone weighs in briefly on this interesting new development in the Farmer and Glefke suspension case:

Q: I thought the USOC only oversees athletes that compete in the Olympic Games and championships. Is this really something that they would be involved with?    

A: While the role of an NGB under the USOC includes the regulation of national competition, its primary focus is on the international equestrian disciplines and their pipelines. Given that the Farmer Glefke suspension case does not affect participation in international sport, this is not something I see the USOC getting involved with. As hunter riders and trainers, Farmer and Glefke are participating in a non-FEI discipline and the charges against them have nothing to do with the selection for either an Olympic Games or a World Equestrian Games. The USOC is currently getting ready for the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics, and my guess is that there will be more pressing matters for it to deal with in the upcoming 6 months.

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When to Call An Equine Lawyer

Armand Leone is an attorney by trade and no stranger to the court room, but when he leased a horse in 2012 that became injured, he was involved in a lengthy and expensive arbitration for which he hired a lawyer. After giving endless “horses 101” lessons to his counsel before any progress could be made on his case, Leone realized there was an opportunity for him to help his fellow horsemen. As a result, Leone Equestrian Law was born in 2014.

Leone operates his business on a simple principle: horses are unique. According to him, the way horses are bought, sold, and leased is a process unlike any other seen in contemporary society. “Paying to educate an attorney about the horse business is not a cost effective way to resolve legal matters,” he says.

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