About Me

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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.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Top Five Mistakes Boarding Stables Make

At Equine Legal Solutions, we see boarding facilities make the same mistakes - over and over. And some of them are downright costly!

(1) Drafting Their Own Boarding Contracts and Liability Releases

When it comes to drafting contracts and liability releases, boarding facilities seem to think they can do a fine job by borrowing someone else's or cobbling together their own from pieces they find on the Internet. The problem is that unlike, say, do-it-yourself electrical wiring, the consequences of do-it-yourself legal work are not always immediately apparent. Instead, contracts are like life rafts - you don't realize they have holes until you really need to use them, and then, it's way too late! The boarding facility who drafted its own contracts won't realize that its liability release is woefully inadequate until it gets sued. Or a boarder owes the stable $3,000 in back board on a worthless horse and the stable discovers to its extreme dismay that its contract doesn't allow it to sell the horse or give it away, so it has to rely on the time-consuming and expensive state lien foreclosure process.

Other reasons why drafting your own contract is a bad idea.

Why not get a boarding contract forms package from Equine Legal Solutions instead?  For less than $150, you can rest easy knowing your contract is enforceable, and you can benefit from other people's experiences without having to make your own costly mistakes.  You also don't have to worry about whether your contract is up to date - ELS automatically sends you the updates, and for free!

(2) Being Too Nice

As a group, horse people are really nice, trusting folks. So, when a boarder gets behind on board payments, breaks the barn rules or is just downright irritating, they tend to give that boarder second chances. And third chances. And fourth chances. The longer a boarding stable waits to evict a problem boarder, the bigger the problem will become, and the harder it will be to get rid of them.

(3) Letting Late Payments Get Out of Control

We hear from a LOT of boarding stables who want to know what to do with a boarder who is past due. Often times, the boarder owes thousands of dollars. Why wait months to evict a boarder who isn't paying? Every day a boarder doesn't pay is a day when the boarding stable feeds someone else's horse for free AND loses the opportunity to fill that horse's stall with a paying boarder.

(4) Being Uninsured or Underinsured

Insurance is not just for pessimists! Boarding facilities of all sizes need commercial liability insurance and care, custody and control insurance. They also need to insure their buildings and property against fire and other damage, and they need to insure their vehicles. For more information, see Equine Legal Solutions' equine insurance buying guide.

(5) Letting Boarders Work Off Board

With (very) rare exceptions, allowing boarders to work off their board just flat-out doesn't work. Most of the time, the boarder doesn't take their obligations seriously, isn't reliable and/or doesn't do the job to the facility's standards. If the boarder is a teenager, double the probability that it won't work.


Alison Rowe said...

Great post, Rachel! "Being too nice" hits the nail on the head. Some facilities don't even get boarding contracts at all for fear that they might offend someone. Boarding facilities (just like any business) should make it very clear in their contracts and "barn rules" what will happen when someone is late on board and enforce the policy consistently and immediately when the policy is breached.

Tammypi said...

I agree and we did purchase your forms. What is missing for us is the information on how to enforce the contract though. For instance, a boarder moves their horse out without paying their balance ... how do we exercise the lein??? This has been our most common problem .. everything is fine UNTIL they want to leave .. then WHAMMO ... all the sudden they don't want to pay that last months board.