There are Horse Industry flaws in the USA. That’s no surprise. There are flaws in every industry!
There are several ways a horse person can protect themselves and their welfare of their horses, however it will take strong and determined people willing to negotiate on behalf of their horses, in order to change the current practices.
Purchasing a Horse
Horses cost a lot of money. Period. If you are purchasing one for the first time, there are risks up the kazoo. You’ll find that everyone wants their own release of liability, too.
Obtain a ‘return’ commitment from the seller.
If you are buying a serious prospect or proven show horse, you need to negotiate a trial period. This is very, very difficult, however, there are several owners and breeders out there, that will buy back a horse. These are the kinds of people you want to do business with. They prioritize the well being of the horse, their clients and their reputations.
Before you make a trip to see a horse, ask if there are any other people interested. You don’t want to put yourself in a situation where a seller will enjoy a ‘bidding war’, or an impetuous purchase.
Remember: If the seller is in a hurry, or they pressure you with the idea that others are just about to buy, walk away. There are LOTS of horses available out there. The character and ethics of people you buy from are just as, if not more important than the horse. You want a reliable transaction. These are living beings that are being traded, and unless you are buying specifically to remove a horse from a situation, then choose your people well.
Obtain all Veterinary records.
You will not be able to assess the horse’s health without all the medical records. In this country, medical services that are paid for by owners are kept by those owners. This is a horrible thing for the horse! History of colic or any other treatment can be well hidden by charming and seasoned horse traders. You may believe them, but asking for medical records is NOT a big deal if they are honest people.
Children who are either orphaned or given up for adoption have all of their records, including medical records, go with them for so many reasons. Treatments will be the responsibility of new parents, and it is unethical (illegal) for them to be kept ignorant. People need to be knowing and willing to take on any kind of ongoing care over and above normal care.
Medical records need to travel with horses from owner to new owner, no matter who pays for the service during the lifetime of the horse.
Boarding your Horse
This is always a touchy relationship. However, before you sign any boarding contract, add the following to your terms. Yes, the barn owner has a lot of power, and you are putting the life of your horse in their hands, but there are loopholes other than care.
Negotiate Nibble Nets
Usually when your horse is at a boarding facility, certain amounts of feed and grain are ‘included’. Okay, well and good. Pay extra and have a nibble net installed in your horse’s stall to make sure your horse can munch all night. It is much healthier for the horse to keep his gut full and moving. Better yet, if you can facilitate a 24/7 turnout with ample shelter, put your horse out there, and if you need to convince other owners to get their horses nibble nets too, then do it. It’s a much healthier situation.
All standard boarding contracts come with a 30 day notification clause. This means that you give the barn at least 30 days to find a new boarder. Usually, the billing cycle starts on the first of the month so if you arrive at a new barn on the 5th for example, you pay for 25 days and then get into the regular monthly charge. Easy when you arrive, harder when you leave.
Let’s say you give your thirty days notice on the 15th of June. Half of your board is already paid. You will pay for 15 days of July whether you move your horse early or not.
Barn owners will tell you that the industry standard follows an apartment rental agreement, which is true enough. Renters will pay for their 30 days, and move when it is convenient. However there is a big difference.
Your board not only rents the stall, but it pays for hay and grain. In this case, let’s say you move your horse on July 1st. The new barn wants to fill that stall, and you want to get there and get settled. Your ‘old’ barn owner may give you a bag of grain and a couple bales of hay. However, you’ve already paid for 15 days of hay and grain included with your board.
Either get the value of the consumables, or get the consumables themselves when you leave a stall vacant at your old facility for more than a few days.
Before you sign a contract, find out the price of hay and grain and add a clause that gives you the right to be compensated fairly, as long as the 30 days ‘rent for the stall’, and proper notification is given.