Planning the details of loaning a horse can protect all parties
Whether you are thinking of loaning out or taking in a horse on loan, there are a number of points to consider in the interest of all parties concerned. We hear sometimes of nightmare situations where a horse out on loan disappears without trace, so a written agreement is essential to give peace of mind as well as help to clarify arrangements and define responsibilities. A contract can be drawn up by a solicitor or you can draft an agreement yourself, but do have it independently witnessed. Both parties should consider the points below.
- The owner of the horse for loan may wish to see the premises where the horse is to be kept. It would be reasonable to specify in the agreement the stabling address for the horse, in order that it is not subsequently moved to a less satisfactory yard.
- Fix the period of the loan and make arrangements for early curtailment of the loan with reasonable notice of either party, one month for example. Detail who will be responsible for transportation costs.
- The permitted uses of the horse should be detailed in the loan agreement. If the horse is a mare or stallion, consider whether the option to use the animal for breeding should be allowed or forbidden in the agreement. Also, remember that any insurance for the horse should cover all the activities for which it is used.
- You may wish to agree who may ride the loan horse and if it is reasonable considering the location where the horse is to be kept, the owner may wish to specify which vet should treat the horse.
- Ensure that there is adequate insurance in place to cover essentials such as death and theft, vet's fees and personal liability. Either party can take out the appropriate insurance for the animal, but it will help if who is responsible for arranging this and what is to be insured is detailed in the loan agreement. Loss of use insurance should be considered in case the horse or pony becomes permanently unable to be used for some activity due to accident, illness or disease.
- Consider whether tack is to be included in the loan. Insurance arrangements for the tack should be included in the agreement and it should also be agreed who is responsible for repair or replacement.
- General provisions for the care of the horse should be included - keeping vaccinations up to date, stabling in winter, frequency of worming, shoeing and the like. If there are any special needs such as feed supplements, soaked hay etc., make sure these requirements are included in the agreement. Similarly, if the horse has any vices or allergies, note these in the written contract so that there is no misunderstanding.
- The horse's owner may wish to include an option to visit and/or to ride the horse in the agreement. It would be best to specify the prior notice required and also to agree the frequency.
- Consider whether a clause should be incorporated into the contract to give first refusal to the person taking the horse on loan if the horse is made available for sale.
- Whilst a written contract should mean that the loan arrangement runs smoothly, consider whether it is necessary to include a clause detailing action in respect of dispute resolution.
- Remember that before you enter into an agreement, for peace of mind carefully 'vet' the person who is taking the horse on loan to ensure that they will care appropriately for your horse. For purposes of security, take a photo of the horse with the person having it on loan and note the registration of their horsebox and/or car.