A horse owner recently called our office alleging that her stable had mistreated her horse by leaving the animal outdoors at temperatures below twenty degrees and by failing to provide enough feed for the horse. She claimed the horse was malnourished. Because she was not satisfied with the manner in which the stable cared for her horse, she stopped paying the boarding fees and was nearly three months behind on her payments. The stable threatened to put a lien on the horse and she called me for advice.
The foregoing scenario is unfortunately too common. In order to reduce the risk of such a dispute, the Boarding Agreement between the horse’s owner and the stable should specify the conditions under which the horse should be stabled, the type and amount of feed that should be provided to the horse, and other pertinent details.
Using a form boarding agreement as a base is not necessarily problematic, but the devil is in the details that are added to the form. For example, some forms include the following paragraph followed by several lines of “fill in the blank” spaces.
“Stable agrees to provide the following, in addition to normal and reasonable care and handling to maintain the health and well being of the horse…”
The details that the parties insert after that paragraph are crucial to ensure that both parties are on the same page (literally) as far as the stable’s obligations in caring for the horse. The language should be worded clearly without any ambiguity.
In sum, using a form boarding agreement is sometimes helpful but the form must be customized by the parties so that the relevant details are clearly articulated and there is no ambiguity as to the stable’s obligations. If the “fill in the blank” form does not provide enough space for the necessary details, an addendum or rider may be appropriate. An experienced attorney can assist with drafting the boarding agreement to ensure that the agreement clearly memorializes the understanding between the parties, thereby reducing the risk of a dispute.
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The Law Offices of Keith R. Betensky, Esq.
The Empire Building
26 Village Green, Suite 4
P.O. Box 22
Bedford, New York 10506-0022