Damage Caused by Boarded Horses: Who Pays For It?

By, Julie Fershtman Attorney at Law

Broken pasture fences, broken gates, stall dividers kicked through, wash rack hoses and nozzles broken, stall walls bitten through, stall doors broken off of their hinges.

For many boarding stables, breaks and damages to the property like these are to be expected. The question is, who should pay for them? How should a boarding contract address this issue?

Certainly, boarding stable owners and managers have their own preferences about the cost of repairs.  This article discusses options for boarding contracts involving repair costs for damage to the property caused by boarded horses.

Option One: Boarding Stable Pays for Everything

For some boarding stable owners, repairing damage around the stable is simply the cost of doing business, and the stable will pay for all damages when they occur, regardless of amount. Possibly, the stable may have planned ahead for these expenses by including an extra amount in its monthly boarding fee for anticipated repair costs. This option also takes into account the possibility that the stable might be unable to identify which horse caused the damage at issue.

Option Two: Shared Expense

Boarding stable owners might view damage as a shared expense between the stable and horse owner, depending on the size of the repair bill. A boarding contract could state, for example, that the boarding stable pays for all damage repairs, including materials and labor, up to $150, and thereafter the owner must reimburse the stable for repair costs exceeding this amount. Certainly, the stable’s maximum amount in the contract will depend on its preferences.

Option Three: Owner Pays for All Damages

For some stable owners, the horse owner must pay for (or even arrange) all repairs.  In their contracts, these stables can specify that the stable will bill the horse owner for reimbursement for all damage the boarded horse does to the facilities (except for reasonable wear and tear).  Provisions like this are more commonly found in boarding arrangements where the owner, not the stable, provides care to the horse on the stable’s property.


Horse owners and stable owners benefit from carefully written boarding contracts. The issue of damages on the property is one of many fine points that a thorough boarding contract can address.

This article does not constitute legal advice.  When questions arise based on specific situations, direct them to a knowledgeable attorney.

Julie Fershtman is one of the nation’s most experienced Equine Law practitioners. A lawyer for over 32 years, she is a Shareholder with Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC.  She has successfully handled equine cases in 18 jurisdictions nationwide and has tried equine cases before juries in 4 states.  She is listed in The Best Lawyers in America.  Her speaking engagements span 29 states. For more information, visit www.equinelaw.net and www.equinelawblog.com