Legal claims against livery yard owners or irresponsible parties are on the increase.
Whether for DIY livery, part livery, full livery or working livery it is essential to have horse owners enter into a livery agreement before taking occupancy at your yard. This ensures both parties know their obligations. Standard clauses and issues must be considered before entering a livery agreement, for example:-
Parties – name, address and other contact details of the yard owner and horse owner.
Charges – livery fee and review dates for an increase; any additional costs e.g. farrier, vet, worming, time limit on when payment is due.
Insurance – liability of horse should remain with owner and the yard owner should exclude liability for injury to the horse and loss of tack / equipment.
Tack & other belongings – parties decide who is responsible for loss or damage to such items if not covered by insurance.
Horse Passport – technically the original should be held at the yard, however, the majority of horse owners are reluctant to do this in which case up-to-date copies should be provided to the yard owner with a right reserved to see the original.
Special care – details on any special care required for the horse are important i.e. requirement for a horse’s hay to be soaked.
Vices – any vices and behavioural problems of the horse should be fully disclosed. If none are apparent, a statement to this effect should be given.
Children / Dogs – you may want to exclude children and/or dogs from the yard. In any event you should make them the parent / owner’s responsibility.
Welfare decisions – the yard owner should have the right to make the decision to put the horse to sleep on veterinary advice only if the owner cannot be contacted.
Lien – a very important clause that should be incorporated into all livery agreements. Essentially, the yard owner reserves the right to retain the horse and its tack, rugs etc until payment of any outstanding livery fees are made. If payment is not made, the yard owner retains the power to sell the horse and belongings to cover the debt. Any remaining proceeds of sale should then be held by the yard owner in case dispute occurs in the future.
Duties owed by the livery yard owner – services must be provided with reasonable care and skill e.g. quality of feed, school surface, supervision of horse; reasonable care must be taken of your horse e.g. adequate feed and water, veterinary needs met, no poisonous plants in the fields; the premises must be of a safe standard and maintained as such e.g. sufficient drainage and ventilation, non-slip floors; employees must be suitably experienced and trained.
Duties owed by the horse owner – horse’s welfare must be of a good standard i.e. provision of suitable rugs and feed supplements; yard rules must be abided; livery fees to be paid on time!
Livery agreements need to be tailored to the individual needs of all parties. We regularly draft a master livery agreement for a yard owner that can be used time and time again when new horse owners join the yard.
Contact a specialist equine solicitor
For specialist advice about equine law, call us now on 0800 652 8025 or contact us online.
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