Loan Contracts for Horses

Jodie Seddon on Loan Contracts for Horses

Here we take a look at loan contracts for horses, something which all owners – and loaners should have in place before the exchange takes place, with the help of Jodie Seddon ● MA Oxon ● Partner at GunnerCooke LLP ● International Eventer & Showjumper at Stonehill Sport Horses 

Why have a Horse Loan Contract?

For most of us, our horses are one of our most valuable possessions, both emotionally and financially. While it would be unlikely for anyone to want to loan their horse out to someone who they do not feel would take proper care of it, care of a horse is a big responsibility, both financially and as a time commitment.

For an owner, the handover of their horse and its passport is a big step, and the existence of a signed loan contract proves that the horse is only loaned, and not sold or gifted to the loanee. For the lownee, the horse loan should be a pleasurable experience, with clear communication between both parties a must.

A well-prepared loan contract can provide both the owner and the loanee with comfort that the horse will be well cared for according to the owners’ wishes, and the loanee will have the security that the horse will be theirs to use for the duration of the agreement, provided that they follow the owners’ instructions set out in the contract.

Jodie Seddon on Loan Contracts for Horses
Loan Contracts – Written by Jodie Seddon

In the unfortunate event that the relationship between the owner and the loanee changes, or either of their personal situations’ change, a contract will provide both parties with clear instructions as to how they each may solve any issues that arise with the horse, or end the loan, with the welfare of the horse as the primary concern.

Who should be a party to a loan contract, and who should sign it

The loan contract, or equine loan agreement as you may wish to call it, should be made between the owner of the horse (as identified in the passport) and the person taking possession of the horse under the loan agreement.  If the loanee is under 18, a parent or guardian should sign the agreement on their behalf.

Legal contracts are generally made effective with some sort of consideration changing hands, usually money.  Given that a loan does not involve this, it must be signed and witnessed by a third person, who is unrelated, and described as a “deed”, to give it legal effect. Each party should then keep a copy of the document with all signatures safely.

Key Areas for a Loan Contract to Include

A loan contract should document the arrangement clearly: who is responsible for the horse, both day to day and if a serious issue were to arise; it should outline circumstances in which the loan will terminate; describe any specific management considerations relating to the horse that the loanee should be aware of; and identify any equipment which is loaned with the horse.

The Horse

A clear description of the horse, any distinguishing features (including the UELN and microchip number) is one of the first parts for consideration that need attention to detail. A statement that the horse is only loaned to the loanee, and remains the property of the owner for the entirety of the contract.

Jodie Seddon on Loan Contracts for Horses - A statement on who the horse belongs to, and who the loanee is should be clear and included with priority in the loan agreement.
A statement on who the horse belongs to, and who the loanee is should be clear and included with priority in the loan agreement.

The horses’ passport must show the owner as the registered owner, however, it should be in the possession of the loanee to allow travel and competition. The contract should include a statement confirming that holding the passport does not give the loanee any right of ownership in the horse.

Any specific “do’s and don’t’s” with respect to the management and maintenance of the horse (for example, must be shod every 6 weeks, or must be sedated to be clipped).

Any specific pre-existing medical conditions affecting the horse (for example, prone to laminitis).

Any restrictions on the horses’ activities while on loan: must jumping be limited in frequency or size, or should competing be restricted only to specific levels or type of competitions.

The Loan Agreement Arrangement

The length of the loan period should be identified early on and set our clearly in the contract. It may be sensible to have a trial period of a few weeks, where the horse can be returned and the loan terminated upon short notice. Following that, either a set term which the parties can choose to renew or an ongoing loan with a specific notice period for termination should be specified.

Arrangements for return, such as who is responsible for transporting the horse, should also be set out clearly.

The loanee should make sure the owner knows where the horse will be kept, and notify the owner if they move the horse for any reason – the owner should have access to the horse at all times during the loan.

It is important to ensure that arrangements around any veterinary treatment the horse may require are clear – the owner may have a specific preference on a vet practice to be used. It is also important to have a clear plan in place in the event of an accident or injury to the horse which may require euthanasia.


Reasons for terminating a loan agreement will differ.

The contract should state certain key conditions which should be satisfied by the loanee, and if they are not, then the horse must be returned and the loan terminated with immediate effect.

Examples of this type of condition might include: the requirement for regular shoeing, regular worming and vaccinations, and/or regular physiotherapy treatments; or to keep the horse at a specific location.


The contract must be clear as to who will bear the cost of insuring the horse, and what insurance coverage the owner requires – if there is any shortfall, this would usually fall to the loanee to cover.

In the event that any pre-existing conditions give rise to any insurance exclusions, the owner and the loanee should agree upfront how any issue which is excluded should be dealt with, and who should be responsible for the cost of treatment.


The contract should contain an acknowledgement from the loanee that riding and horse care is a risky activity, and should be undertaken at their own risk, with the loanee taking out personal accident insurance if appropriate.

The loanee taking out personal accident insurance if appropriate - image of horse and rider
The loanee taking out personal accident insurance if appropriate

Practical Considerations for a loan agreement

The owner and loanee should each retain a copy of the loan agreement with all signatures (including witnesses) safely.  Once signed, any changes must be made in writing – even if by email, with a response confirming that the other person agrees to the change.


A loan agreement can be a super way of allowing a horse to continue a career with a new rider, or take a step down with a less experienced rider, however, it is key for the owner, the loanee and the welfare of the horse to ensure that the arrangement is properly considered and documented at the outset.

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