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Rachel Kosmal McCart is a lifelong horsewoman and the founder of Equine Legal Solutions, PC, an equine law firm based in the Portland, Oregon area. Rachel is a member of the New York, California, Oregon and Washington State bars and is admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon and the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Rachel currently competes in three-day eventing.

Friday, October 19, 2007

It's Your Property and You Can Decide Who Does Business There

Many boarding stable owners have asked ELS whether they have any say in who comes onto their property. They have expressed concern about the professionalism and methods of various trainers and instructors, and often are worried that they may have liability if the service providers hurt someone on their property. These concerns are very realistic. Even if the boarding stable doesn't have any actual liability for an incident that occurs on its property, the stable is still likely to be named in a lawsuit and therefore will have to pay to defend itself (or make a claim on its own insurance policy for the defense).

Contrary to popular opinion, boarding stables are not "public places" where anyone can conduct any horse-related business. As the property owner (or the leaseholder), you can certainly set reasonable policies about who is and is not permitted onto your property. In particular, no one should be earning income from activities taking place on your property without your knowledge and permission. Doing business on your property is a privilege and not a right.

ELS recommends that boarding stables require all independent contractors, including but not limited to trainers, instructors and persons who provide grooming and turnout services, to have commercial liability insurance. All such contractors should provide proof of insurance to the boarding stable, and name the boarding stable owners as additional named insureds on their policies. When adopting a contractor policy, the stable should put the requirements in writing and post them prominently at barn entrances and other locations where boarders and contractors will see them. ELS recommends sending a copy of the policy to each boarder with a cover letter introducing the new policy and noting that any contractors that the boarders invite onto the premises will have to comply with the policy. The barn manager should have copies of the policy on hand so that they can approach new contractors and inform them of the barn policy.

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