Horses buying, sharing, loans, leasing & care

Before downloading one of these templates, we suggest you read Netlawman's helpful guides to:

Template: Horse Sale Agreement: buyer's version

Read what Net lawman says about this template:

 "This agreement is a simple way to protect yourself as a buyer of a horse or pony. It is very hard to ascertain whether a horse has any problems or vices at a viewing, even when a vet has assessed the horse's medical condition. By using this sale agreement, you obtain the seller's promise (warranty) that there are no undisclosed problems. If there subsequently turn out to be, then it is the seller who becomes responsible for them, not you. Using this document could not only save you thousands of pounds but also much anguish over dealing with a horse that you cannot ride.

When selling a horse, the phrase "buyers beware" applies completely. Unlike in many other transactions, a buyer of a horse has no statutory legal protection. A horse may seem sound when you view it, only to show problems shortly after you take it home.

It is only natural to want to show a horse or pony in a good condition or talk up achievements, both to maximize the price and to increase the chance of a sale. The seller may not be intentionally trying to dupe you, but it is all too easy to include bute in feed or say that the horse is a good competition jumper when in fact it has only jumped in the neighbour's arena. In short, few horses are perfect and there are ways of hiding problems that a seller won't be inclined to tell you.

A vet's report will give you some assurance that the horse is medically sound, but you shouldn't rely on a report alone. Vets can make mistakes, particularly since they are only looking at the horse at a point in time, and are unlikely to know about historical injuries.

The only way of protect your interests as a buyer is to use a sale agreement in which the seller warrants (makes promises regarding) the condition of the horse. If subsequently it turns out that a warranty (for example that the horse does not spook at traffic) is false, the seller breaches the agreement, and the buyer can seek damages. If you have a written warranty and there is a problem, the problem becomes the seller's and not yours.

This agreement protects both parties, but more so the buyer, who is in the weaker position without it. It has been written for standard transactions. It is a comprehensive document, but not overly legalistic or complicated to edit."

Template: Horse Sale Agreement: seller's version

Read what Net lawman says about this template:

"This is a version of our horse sale agreement tailored for sellers rather than buyers. When buying a horse or pony, the buyer takes most risk in whether the horse is sound. A sale agreement therefore usually re-balanced the risk back to the seller. This version is slightly different in that it protects the buyer slightly less and includes provisions that favour the seller rather than the buyer. If you are the seller, you are more likely to be better off presenting your own terms, rather than accepting those of the buyer.

Many buyers are likely to be nervous about the condition of a horse for sale. It is very hard to ascertain whether a horse has any problems or vices from a viewing that lasts just a few hours. One way of reassuring a potential buyer that a horse is sound is to present a sale agreement in which you warrant (promise) that the horse is fit and doesn't have certain vices.

Use of an agreement is likely to present you as a professional and trustworthy seller. If anything does go wrong once the horse is sold, having used an agreement, you are more likely to receive a friendly phone call and the chance to talk through the problem, rather than an immediate summons to court.

Using your version of the agreement (rather than a buyer's) allows you to set the conditions of sale. If there are potential problems, you can remove your warranty relating to it without bringing the removal so obviously to the buyer's attention. You can also choose terms around payment and delivery that suit you rather than the buyer. If you present your agreement first, it is more likely to be the one that is used."

Template: Horse Sale Commission Agreement

Read what Net lawman says about this template:

"This agreement is between a livery yard owner who agrees to take commission on the sale of a horse, and the owner. As written, like any livery contract, the owner also pays for livery while the horse is for sale and has personal access to the yard's facilities.

Sellers often prefer to sell the horse from a yard. The yard may have superior facilities in which to allow the seller to demonstrate the horse's ability, riders on hand who can get the best out of the horse, and surroundings that impress buyers; and the owner doesn't need to spend time arranging viewings, answering questions, or being at viewings.

The deal should, however, like any business transaction, be recorded in a document that covers all the points. Writing it down not only protects both sides from later disagreement about what the terms were, but also protects the yard owner's livery business, in that the yard owner has recourse to the horse owner if something goes wrong (such as the horse damages his stable). Additionally, the terms of the livery are recorded, which not only gives the horse owner an expectation of additional costs on top of the sale commission, but also sets out the obligations of the horse owner."

Template: Horse Sale Agreement: high value transaction

Read what Net lawman says about this template:

"This horse sale contract gives the buyer a great deal of protection if the horse is medically unsound or if the condition is not as the seller described. It is impossible to test everything that might be wrong at a viewing - your new horse might behave perfectly in the seller's arena, but might be impossible to handle at events. This agreement won't prevent those problems, but it will ensure you can seek compensation. If there is a lot at stake (financial or otherwise), a comprehensive agreement like this one is a must.

Transactions with horse and ponies frequently end in litigation. There are no regulations or laws that protect the buyer, so the onus is on the buyer to make sure that the horse is suitable. However, few horses are perfect and sellers will naturally avoid telling you of the problems.

Up to a point, you can rely on a vet for checking medical health, but a vet can easily get it wrong, since he can only assess the horse at a single point in time with limited information. Of course, a vet cannot tell you anything about the horse's temperament, ability or suitability to you.

The only way of protect your interests as a buyer is to use a sale contract in which the seller warrants (makes promises regarding) the condition of the horse. If subsequently it turns out that a warranty (for example that the horse does not spook at traffic) is false, the seller breaches the agreement, and the buyer can seek damages. Of course, every seller will tell you verbally that the horse is sound. But if it is written down, if there is a problem (whether the seller knew of it beforehand or not), it becomes the seller's problem, not yours.

This agreement protects both parties, but more so the buyer, who is in the weaker position without it. It has been written for transactions where the consequences of buying an unsuitable horse are expensive and the buyer wants a comprehensive agreement to provide him with the greatest amount of protection."

Template: Option agreement: to buy horse or pony

Read what Net lawman says about this template:

"This option agreement binds the owner of a horse or a pony to a future sale if the prospective buyer decides to buy. It is used where a prospective buyer is seriously interested in buying, but wishes to wait before agreeing to buy. The prospective buyer pays the seller to be given the right to buy at a later date when he has better information about the value of the horse.

A prospective buyer uses an option when he is interested in buying the horse, but a future event will influence the value of the horse considerably. The advantages to the buyer of buying an option are:

  • if priced correctly, the buyer can limit his losses if the event does not change the value of the horse favorably
  • since the contract creates an exclusive right to buy before the end of the period, the buyer can prevent other prospective buyers from purchasing the horse until he has decided whether or not he wants to do so
  • if priced correctly, the buyer can pay less in total for the horse than he would do if he bought after the event has occurred as a result of being willing to take on the risk that the value may not increase

The advantage to the seller is that if he thinks that the value of the horse will not increase in during the option period (or if he thinks there may not be many buyers in the future), he guarantees himself a payment now for granting the option, and still has a good chance that he will sell the horse.

You might use an option agreement when you are buying a horse:

  • before you have had the opportunity to ride it and properly assess its suitability for you
  • before an event or race in which you expect it to do well
  • before a vet has confirmed that it is in foal to a certain stallion
  • before the results of a veterinary or drug test have been released

Since there are advantages for both the prospective buyer and the seller in using an option agreement, either side could adapt this agreement to suit them. It is an easy contract to edit to your needs."

Template: Horse Loan Agreement

Read what Net lawman says about this template:

"This loan agreement is suitable for leasing a horse or a pony for any purpose, including for competition, casual recreational riding and breeding. The advantage of using a written, comprehensive document like this one is that because each party knows what is expected, disagreements should be minimized and the horse should be looked after as the owner wishes.

The British Horse Society (BHS) strongly advocates using a loan agreement regardless of whether you are the owner or the borrower. As well as forming a legal contract and protecting both sides in law, using an agreement like this one has several additional benefits over an informal or verbal one.

Firstly, it can be used for planning. The structure of the agreement forces both sides to think about what is important to them (such as the level of care the horse or pony will receive).

Secondly, it acts as a record of what was agreed, so it can help prevent misunderstandings once the loan is in force and before problems spiral out of control. Using a formal written document may seem unnecessary between friends, but it is in the interests of both parties, the long-term friendship and the horse.

The BHS produce a free horse loan agreement. We do not think it covers all the practical issues. The draftsman of the Net Lawman version has owned and ridden horses for 40 years. He has taken into account many more options based on the practical experiences of himself and others. The result is a document that leaves your interests better protected. Our version is easy to complete and very comprehensive."

Template: Horse Care Agreement

Read what Net lawman says about this template:

"This agreement has been designed for situations in which a horse or pony is "retired" into the care of someone else. The horse may no longer be able to work owing to old age, or it might have suffered an injury, as a result of which it no longer can compete, but otherwise could be used for lighter work such as hacking or teaching, keeping another horse company or for breeding.

In this agreement, the owner loans the horse to the carer for agreed purposes. The carer assumes all responsibility for the care of the horse (by default also including all costs such as farriery and veterinary charges), but does not pay the owner for the loan itself. Although this is a loan agreement (letting the owner end the agreement and take back the horse when he wants), there is provision for the ownership to pass to the carer after a given period if the owner does not end the agreement before that date. This provision allows the owner to become confidant in the quality of care provided before abandoning the horse to the carer completely.

Disclaimers also include cover for situation when you are asked to ride a client’s horse on your land or anywhere else. 

Typically, this agreement would be used when an owner no longer wants to keep a horse, but doesn't want to have it put down. By loaning it for free to someone who can use it, the owner retains ownership but doesn't have to pay care costs, while the carer can enjoy the horse and put it to use, only having to pay for care (and not the horse itself)."

Template: Horse Sharing Agreement: competing

Read what Net lawman says about this template:

"Sharing ownership of a sport horse has advantages for both the rider a backer. It can give a rider a financial or motivational incentive to perform, and it can reduce the upkeep costs and the responsibility of the backer.

Just as in any business arrangement, an informal agreement can lead to numerous problems later. The aim of this agreement is to set out not only a record of ownership, but of agreed responsibility: for management, care and competitions. With it, backers will find that they aren't just a source of finance.

We haven't used any legal jargon, so the document doesn't come across as being overly formal. It will however, protect your investment in the horse, and help prevent disagreements.

You should ideally consider the points in this document before you commit to sharing, and then finalise the document soon after.

For example, do you want the rider to use specific service providers such as vets? Who will pay for what expenses, and who decides how to keep the horse?

Consider the areas where something may go wrong with the proposal and ask “what would we do if”. We suggest writing brief notes between you as to how your arrangement will work, then formalise the agreement with this document."

Template: Horse Share Agreement: recreational riding

Read what Net lawman says about this template:

"Horse sharing is a fantastic way of reducing the costs of ownership: both financial and time. However, many informal arrangements turn sour because of disagreements about responsibilities for care, access and use, and who contributed what.

Often, friends who decide to buy a horse for recreational purposes don't write down the terms they agree (or think they agree).

Most casual arrangements end in disagreement. You might find that you pay a greater proportion of the costs than you originally thought that you would, or that you spend so much time looking after the horse that you become the groom in the relationship rather than a co-rider. Frictions like these usually end a friendship as well.

This agreement sets out ownership and responsibilities. It covers a lot of points, and is suitable for both high value and low value transactions. While we recommend recording the deal as fully as possible, because a long agreement may be excessive for an inexpensive horse, you can easily edit it to a much simpler document.

We haven't used any legal jargon, so the document doesn't come across as being overly formal for an agreement between friends. It will however, protect your investment in the horse, and help prevent disagreements much better than an informal arrangement."

Template: Horse Lease Agreement

Read what Net lawman says about this template:

"This document sets the terms under which a horse or a pony will be leased, most likely for eventing or jumping or showing. It aims primarily to protect the interest of the owner and the animal, but fairly treats the lessee.

Leasing your horse or pony is a good way of letting someone benefit from keeping it, reducing costs of ownership and possibly training the animal to a higher standard than you may be able to achieve.

You might use this agreement to loan a young, energetic horse for eventing to an upcoming youth rider who will give it national competition experience as well as feeding, stabling and caring for it. Or you may have a pony that requires recreational riding for exercise but no-one to ride it. Leasing it might be a solution that reduces the cost to you of upkeep, allow someone else to enjoy riding (maybe including at local shows), and keep the pony fit and healthy.

This template is designed to form the basis of an agreement that suits your exact arrangement. It covers a number of possible uses: including general riding, eventing, jumping, and showing. The value of the animal could be high or low, the lease amount paid could be any amount and the term could be measured in months or years.

Your arrangement may be for full board, where the borrower pays for stabling, feed and veterinary costs, or you may agree to split some costs in some proportion between you both.

A well drawn legal agreement protects you and the horse. Importantly, if there are any disagreements, having the terms of the lease written down allows you to refer back to what you agreed and resolve potential disputes before they arise.

To make your life easy, we have provided multiple options in many areas including responsibilities for care and maintenance, payment of the lease, options for buy-out at the end of lease, participation in competitions, insurance obligations and much more. By and large, you can set the terms you want.

The document should be edited so that it reflects exactly how your deal works. Our guidance notes will tell you what you can change safely, and what we don't advise changing."

Detailed guidance notes are provided with each template. Net Lawman offers a money back guarantee if the document is not what you need, as well as a legal review option if you want some professional assistance when you are drawing up your documents.

Notice: Please note that the information provided on this page:

  • Does not provide a complete or authoritative statement of the law;
  • Does not constitute legal advice by Net Lawman or;
  • Does not create a contractual relationship;
  • Does not form part of any other advice, whether paid or free.

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