Loaning a horse - What should you do if you are the loanee?

Common sense will tell the loanee that careful consideration must be given not only to the suitability of the horse to your intended purpose, but also to the owner of the horse and their requirements. As the loanee you are committing to paying livery fees and all other costs of keeping another person’s horse, plus competition fees, as well as investing vast amounts of your own time in caring for, training and competing the horse. The loanee may not get anything other than enjoyment of the horse in return for the time and expense invested in the horse, which without a written agreement, can potentially be taken off the loanee at any time, without notice.

The insecurity of loaning a horse and having him taken away from you is one of the reasons that it is essential that a loan agreement is drawn up prior to the commencement of the loan. On the other hand, there have been numerous occasions when the loanee has been left with the horse where the owner doesn’t want it back or will not accept the horse back. This is a difficult situation for the loanee as you cannot sell the horse without authority and so can be left in a stalemate situation keeping somebody else’s horse at your cost.

A common dispute between the owner and the loanee involves a disagreement as to the standard of care that the horse is receiving. Owners are quite rightly very particular about how their horse is cared for, and where they are not happy with this, may insist that the horse is returned or that standards are changed immediately. In some cases this may be quite reasonable, however there will always be cases of an owner being too picky about a horse being cared for/trained in a certain way. The loan agreement can avoid this dispute by detailing how the owner wants the horse to be kept and trained.

A standard form loan agreement usually only details the very basic of agreement required between the owner and loanee. I find that the ‘one size fits all’ standard agreement is not ideal and can lead to a dispute between the owner and loanee which can lead to many thousands of pounds in legal fees. Ideally a loan agreement should therefore be tailored to the individual loan.

Every loan agreement should be in writing, signed by both parties and as a minimum should deal with the following:-

  • How long the loan period is agreed to last for?
  • Is it a free loan?
  • Who pays for the horse’s costs of keep, farrier, veterinary fees, competition fees and worming etc?
  • Who is responsible for and who pays for the horse’s annual flu and tetanus vaccinations?
  • Who is responsible for insuring the horse?
  • If the horse has an accident and a veterinary surgeon advises that the horse should be destroyed, can the loanee authorise this if they are unable to contact the loaner?
  • Can either party terminate the loan agreement, and if so, in what circumstances?
  • What happens in the event of a dispute?

Other items that might be included are an option to purchase the horse. If that is the case, the agreement needs to confirm the agreed terms of the option to purchase and/or the amount of commission payable to the borrower. If the agreement is not clear and thorough, a dispute may be unavoidable.

Top Tips for the Loanee:

  1. Always view and try the loan horse before agreeing to the loan. Treat the viewing like the trial of a horse you are viewing to purchase, so take with you a checklist of questions to ask the owner.
  2. Make sure you get on with the owner. Ideally you need to have a good relationship with the owner, so ensure this is possible from the outset.
  3. If possible have the horse on trial for an agreed period before the loan commences.
  4. Always finalise and sign the loan agreement before the loan commences.
  5. It is essential that the loanee insures the horse at least in respect of third party liability. The loanee will be classed as the horse’s keeper and may therefore be liable for any damage that the horse causes to any third party’s person and/or property. Third party liability insurance is relatively inexpensive and will protect you against this.
  6. Have Rider Insurance cover to protect you in the event of an accident for personal accident, emergency vets’ fees and third party liability cover in respect of any horse you ride.
  7. Have the loan agreement professionally drafted. A loan agreement is inexpensive in comparison to the legal costs involved in dealing with a dispute between an owner and loanee.

For further information on equine law visit

For further information about Horse Insurance options visit or for Rider Insurance visit

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