October 5, 2021

Equine Health Maintenance Programs at the Boarding Stable – What’s Best?

Veterinarian Giving Horse a VaccineTeenagers, when they learn to drive, are sometimes cautioned that they’re actually driving five cars at once – cars in front of them, behind them, and on either side in addition to the car in which they’re seated – and must watch all of them to protect their safety. In a roughly comparable way, those who board their horses at other peoples’ stables have every incentive to be watchful of the other horses on the property. Knowing that all the horses are current on their de-wormings and vaccinations can be just as important as making sure that your own horse stays on schedule. All it takes is one horse with a contagious illness, such as strangles, to cause disastrous problems throughout the whole barn. 

Should boarding stables impose equine health requirements for all horses on the property? Should horse owners demand this? This article discusses a few options as well as problems to consider. Which one is best? You decide.

Option: Stable Handles All Vaccination and De-Worming Arrangements

In one arrangement, boarding stable management will schedule all vaccinations, de-wormings, and sometimes even farrier attention for each boarded horse. The stable’s preferred veterinarian vaccinates all horses (such as tetanus, rabies, EEE/WEE, and West Nile) during the same visit, and horse owners are billed afterwards. These arrangements are more common with training stables as trainers develop their own individualized “program” based on their preferences and experience. 

Option: Stable’s Preferred Veterinarian Recommends Schedule, and Owners Handle Arrangements on Their Own

In other arrangements, the stable’s preferred veterinarian posts a recommended list and schedule for de-wormings and vaccinations.  Afterwards, boarders must make their own arrangements within the timeline provided. To ensure the owners’ compliance, stable management might request proof such as receipts for products purchased or veterinary arrangements the owner made.

Option: Owners Determine What’s Best and Make Own Arrangements

Some stables allow boarders total discretion to make decisions on when, how (or even if) to vaccinate and de-worm their horses.    

Take Caution

Depending on how stable health programs are administered, problems can occur. For example:

  • Insured horses. For horses insured with equine insurance, some policies require that only a licensed veterinarian or qualified person under veterinary supervision can administer injections to the horse. Consequently, if the boarding stable owner or manager (who is not a veterinarian) injects a boarded horse without sufficient veterinary oversight, coverage could potentially be denied if complications develop from those injections.
  • Billing issues. When stables arrange veterinary and farrier attention, some pass along the actual invoices so that the boarders can pay each professional directly, with shared farm call charges. Other stables pay the professionals first then bill their boarders for reimbursement. Over the years, some stables and equine professionals have been known to impose surcharges on each bill for routine veterinary attention (with surcharges that may or may not be disclosed to their customers). Boarding contracts can address the issue and specify how the boarder will be billed.


All parties to horse boarding arrangements can benefit greatly from contracts that explain how equine health maintenance will be handled. If these issues are important to you, insist on getting it in writing. Plan ahead and protect yourself.

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

Categories: Boarding, Contracts

Julie Fershtman is considered to be one of the nation’s leading attorneys in the field of equine law. She has successfully tried equine cases before juries in four states. A frequent author and speaker on legal issues, she has written over 400 published articles, four books, and has lectured at seminars, conventions, and conferences in 29 states on issues involving law, liability, risk management, and insurance. For more information, please also visit www.fershtmanlaw.com and www.equinelaw.net, and www.equinelaw.info.

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