The past several years have seen an increase in equine leases due to AQHA’s favorable new rules on show leases. A lease is a great situation for both parties when the owner does not want to sell the horse, but might not be able to show the horse during the upcoming show season and does not want the horse to sit idle.

Lease situations, even among friends, can often become problematic when certain issues are not discussed thoroughly and put in writing. These misunderstandings can all be avoided with a well-drafted equine lease agreement. This article will address the five most common problems in equine leases and possible solutions. Keep in mind that the lessor is the actual owner of the horse, and the lessee is the person who is temporarily taking possession of the horse.

Problem #1: Return of the Leased Horse

Without a written lease agreement, the lessee could refuse to return the horse at the end of the lease, arguing that the lessor sold or gave him the horse. A basic written agreement would save time and costly legal fees by providing proof of ownership and the terms under which the horse is to be returned to the lessor.

In most agreements, the lessee is normally responsible for returning the horse to the lessor. It is also a good idea to require the lessee to pay a small late fee for each day the horse is not returned after the end of the term to encourage the lessee to return the horse promptly. However, if the lessor terminates the lease early without cause, meaning that the lessee did not breach any of the written terms of the lease agreement, it is only fair that the lessor be responsible for picking up the horse from the lessee…

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