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MY LEASED HORSE LOOKS NEGLECTED – NOW WHAT?

Fershtman photo with jacketYou leased out your horse to a family whose horse-crazy teenaged daughter promised to give him the best of care. After a few months passed, you paid your horse a visit but were shocked at what you saw. The horse appeared ribby, and his hooves had not been trimmed in months. It turned out that the teenager lost interest in your horse, but her parents knew little about horses to ensure that your horse received proper care. When you demanded return of your horse, the family refused and insisted that they were entitled to keep him until the lease term ended. What can you do?
PLANNING AHEAD THROUGH THE LEASE CONTRACT
Before the transaction ever started, the lease contract could have foreseen this problem and planned for options to terminate it. Here are some examples:
The contract can provide that if the lessor (in his sole discretion) believes that the horse is receiving sub-standard care during the lease term, he can call off the lease and reclaim his horse.
Or, the contract can allow the lessor to retain a veterinarian, at an expense shared between the lessor and lessee, to examine the horse, and if the veterinarian believes that the horse’s condition is sub-standard, the lease is terminated.
Some contracts specify the quality of care that the leased horse should receive, including details of the type and quantity of feed, names of veterinarians and farriers, name of trainer, and other details.
The contract can also allow the lessor a right to examine the horse, wherever the horse may be maintained, during the lease period.
LITIGATION
Lessors in this unfortunate situation can also consider filing a lawsuit against the lessees seeking to terminate the lease and reclaim the horse. This option can be complex and costly, especially if the parties had no lease contract or if the contract they used is not clearly worded. Legal action of this kind would be brought in a court of proper jurisdiction that is located nearest to the horse and usually would include a demand for immediate possession pending the outcome of the case. Discuss these options with a knowledgeable lawyer.
OTHER OPTIONS
Careful advance planning can be important for equine lease transactions. Lessors seeking to protect their interests can also insist on clauses allowing them the right to recover their legal fees from the lessee, if litigation is pursued.
Consult with a knowledgeable lawyer regarding your equine lease arrangement.

Julie I. Fershtman

Shareholder Farmington Hills
T: 248.785.4731 EmailvCard
Julie Fershtman is considered to be one of the nation’s leading attorneys in the field of equine law. A frequent author and speaker on legal issues, she has written over 200 published articles, three books, and has lectured at seminars, conventions, and conferences in 28 states on issues involving law, liability, risk management, and insurance. For more information, please also visit www.fershtmanlaw.com and www.equinelaw.net, and www.equinelaw.info.

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