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It is never too early to be prepared for the coming breeding season, writes attorney Ingrid M Andrews.
There are some obvious legal issues involved in breeding horses. Well before the season gets into full swing, you need to prepare (or review) the contracts you will be using. As in many areas of horse management, it is very important to nail down all of the terms of a breeding agreement. Whether you prepare the contract or have one sent to you to sign, a thorough understanding of the terms is essential.
Some of the issues peculiar to breeding contracts are the kind of warranties that are offered (such as live-foal guarantees), who is responsible for insuring the mare during transport and at the farm, and what kind of protections are used against injury and the spread of contagious disease.
You are not finished thinking about legal issues once you have a breeding contract. Other contracts may be necessary. For example, if mares are coming to your farm (or you are sending a mare out), you should look into boarding contracts (mare care) and liability releases.
If you own a stallion being stood at another farm, you should also have a stallion management contract. You might think about insurance with respect to limiting liability or satisfying contractual requirements.
Stallion-owners, stud farms, and mare-owners should look into the kind of insurance available for horses. The types typically offered which are relevant to horse breeding include: Care, Custody and Control (for horses on your property that you do not own); Mortality and Surgical (for your own horses); and Stallion Fertility Insurance.
Legal issues can crop up in some unexpected places.
For example, as a stallion owner, you may have been advertising your stallions for months already.
Save yourself some aggravation and a lot of money – if you have any doubt about the horse’s fertility, have it checked by a qualified veterinarian. Sure, it is an extra expense … but, before you decide against it, imagine this scenario: Your advertising pans out and your horse’s book is full.
By March you are welcoming mares at your farm. By the end of the season, none are in foal.
Do you really want to try to convince a lot of angry mare-owners that, in exchange for the thousands of dollars they put into booking fees, transportation, mare care, and veterinary expenses, they have the right to try again next year? You may as well get ready for the lawsuits involving false advertising, fraud, and breach of contract. And just wait for the negative publicity campaign. You better take a deep breath and get your chequebook out …
Whether you own mares or stallions, before you sign anything or make any commitments, think about getting some professional advice.
You may also want to talk to an accountant with equine expertise about tax and business planning issues related to horse breeding.
Insurance agents can give you the run-down on the kinds of policies available, if you opt to get insurance coverage. The following checklists may get you started thinking about your legal position.
Remember that these lists are NOT exhaustive, but only intended as a starting point.
- A Partial Pre-Season Checklist for Stud Farms and Stallion-Owners:
- Did you check the fertility of your stallion?
- Did you check your sales tax requirements and comply with those laws?
- Standing outside stallions? Are your stallion management contracts and releases in good order?
- Have the breeding contracts been reviewed and found satisfactory?
- Are your boarding/mare care contracts up to snuff?
- Shipping semen? Review contracts, and be extra careful about guarantees and giving instructions for AI.
- Do your contracts comply with all state laws relating to mandatory contract language?
- Have you thought about stallion fertility and mortality insurance? Do you need Care/Custody/Control insurance for outside mares and foals?
- A Partial Pre-Season Checklist for Mare-Owners:
- Do you understand the breeding contracts? Pay special attention to live foal guarantees, refunds and return breeding provisions.
- Did you comply with all contractual requirements prior to shipping your mare (such as a Coggins test for out-of-state transport in the US, inoculations and cultures in accordance with stud farm requirements)?
- Does the stud farm have Care, Custody and Control insurance that will cover your mare?
- Did you check into the stud farm’s boarding requirements for mares and foals at foot?
- Do you have a contract for transporting your mare?
- Breeding AI? Do you have a competent person to do the work to protect your rights under the breeding contract?
NOTE: This article is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. For specific information or advice on how the laws affect you, you should contact an attorney qualified to advise you in this area.
Ingrid Andrews is a Michigan attorney with a practice emphasizing equine law, business planning, and civil litigation with a concentration on horse-related issues. Assisting horse owners and equine professionals since 1993, she has authored numerous articles on equine law and business issues and teaches seminars on the legal aspects of the horse industry for individuals and equine business owners. A lifelong horsewoman and an equine business owner herself, Ms Andrews has bred warmbloods on her farm since 1998. Ms Andrews is available for speaking engagements as well as offering legal services, business planning, and peer consultation. She may be contacted by mail at P.O. Box 30, Interlochen, MI 49643, by telephone at (231) 715-1529, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article, which first appeared on Horsetalk.co.nz in October, 2005, is reprinted with permission from Horseadvice.com, an internet information resource for the equestrian and horse industry since 1994. It has tens of thousands of documents on the web about horse care, diseases, and training.