Few of us are fortunate enough to have the facilities to enable us to keep our horses at home. Fortunately, there are many different types of livery available, which offer something for each of us. It is, however, important that all parties agree terms from the outset and it is advisable to enter into a written agreement, which sets out those terms. Obviously, full livery agreements will be more comprehensive than, say, DIY livery or purely grazing but all such agreements are reasonably straightforward and inexpensive to prepare.
While most livery yards will insist on having contact details for the horse owners, their vets and farriers, it is advisable that there should be a written agreement, covering emergency veterinary treatment and responsibility for payment and precisely what services are included in the livery fee, together with any additional services offered such as clipping, schooling or lessons. Where the yard owner is providing a service the agreement should also give an the right to exercise a lien over the horse and any equipment in respect of any unpaid livery fee.
As livery yard owners are only too aware from their increasing insurance premiums, when they agree to look after a horse they become liable for it. It is therefore advisable to make sure, in the agreement, that the owner is responsible for insuring the horse and that the policy document is produced so the yard owner can take a copy. The Agreement will also make clear who will be responsible if tack goes missing or is damaged, particularly if the yard owner will be exercising the horse. Think about drawing up some yard rules, if you haven’t already, which can be provided to the horse owner.
As a horse owner, make sure you inform the yard owner of any vices your horse may have. Does he bite or kick? Is he likely to jump out of his paddock?
As with loan agreements, a written livery agreement need not be complicated or use legal jargon to provide peace of mind for all parties. It will ensure that both parties are aware who does what and when and can be relied upon if and when things go wrong.