top of page

Matilda's Top Ten Horse Owner Tips

Owning a horse can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. Whether you're a seasoned horse owner or a newcomer to the world of equine, it's always helpful to have some expert tips to guide you along the way. That's why we've turned to Matilda, an experienced horse owner and equine lawyer, to share her top ten tips for horse owners. Matilda's tips cover essential parts of horse ownership including sales tips. So, whether you're considering buying your first horse or looking for ways to improve your horse ownership, read on for Matilda's top ten tips.

young girl walking with her pony between fences

1. Have an equine attorney review your purchase agreement and bill of sale.

Right away, it is important to know what is in your purchase agreement. If something happens, knowing your legal remedies will avoid a lot of stress. An equine attorney will also confirm the paperwork given by the seller legally transfers ownership of the horse and, more importantly, will hold up in court. If the document doesn't properly transfer ownership, the equine attorney will contact the seller and have the correct transfer documents executed. Whether the horse is worth $2,000 or $200,000, it is important to have a legally enforceable transfer document. It is beneficial for all equestrians to establish a relationship with an equine attorney from the beginning of your horse ownership.

2. Get a pre-purchase veterinary exam (PPE) from a trusted veterinarian.


You want to know what you're purchasing, preferably before signing anything. Having your own veterinarian examine any potential new horse can eliminate serious problems later down the road, including fights over lameness. PPEs also document the condition of the horse from an expert at the time of (or close to) the sale. These reports can be important evidence later on.

Beyond the legal benefits of PPEs, PPEs are important because they can find hidden defects which may impact your decision to buy or keep a specific horse. PPEs can even discover conditions not known by the seller. Keeping the PPE is also important for your veterinary records and can establish a health baseline for your horse.

So, although PPEs can be around $400, they are worth it for the peace of mind and legal security.


For your protection, always allow your buyer to have a PPE prior to the sale. Make sure your buyer either (1) gets a PPE and represents their satisfaction with the results or (2) have the buyer waive their right to a PPE with a signature. Either way, your contract should include a statement about the buyer and their PPE (or lack thereof).

3. Know the horse before you show the horse.

a brown horse jumping over a blue and yellow jump

Horses are unpredictable prey animals. Even the most docile horse can cause serious injury to persons, including death. Horses react differently in new locations; they also feel the emotions of all the other horses in their proximity. Horse shows are stressful for everyone! The riders are nervous and the horses can feel that unsettled energy. The show ring is not the place to trial an unfamiliar horse.

A story of caution: at one horse show, an adult rider picked up a horse on the way to the show and then entered them into a relatively high jumper class. The horse completed three jumps and then tossed his head and threw his rider over and off of him. She ended up breaking her leg, requiring surgery and major time without riding. Don't ride a horse that you don't know in the show ring, for everyone's safety.

4. Start (and continue) keeping good records.

You will want good records. Keep your purchase agreement and bill of sale. They are the proof that you own the horse. Since we don't record horse title like deeds or registration for cars, it is even more important to keep your bills of sales, preferably after a horse is sold, too.

Not only will you want to keep copies of your purchase agreement and bill of sale, but you should have a good record of your horses veterinary visits and reports, including Coggins tests and vaccination information. It is recommended that you keep all veterinary bills and reports for at least two years after selling a horse.

If this sounds daunting, an equine lawyer may be helpful for you. An equine lawyer can keep a file on your horse where you provide documentation like the purchase agreement, bill of sale and veterinary records; no more losing documents! Doing this will allow for complete confidential security of the documents, and they will be accessible to you at request.

5. Purchase equine liability insurance.

Many people purchase equine major medical insurance but do not think about liability insurance. Equine liability insurance protects you if your covered horse causes damage to property or injury to persons. You can purchase coverage up to a million dollars, in certain instances, for as little as $300.00 a year. As mentioned above, horses are unpredictable prey animals. Horses constantly cause damage and injury, so it is important to be protected.

Contact Wood Kull to discuss how to get equine liability insurance.

6. Choose a boarding facility that fits your needs.

In order to be happy with your horse, you have to be happy with the boarding facility. This means the people, the care of your horse, the turnouts, the facilities, and more. Once your boarding facility no longer fits your needs, it is okay to move somewhere else! As a horse owner, it's most important that both you and your horse are comfortable.

two girls on two ponies in an outdoor arena

7. Start (and continue) Smartpaks or Platinum for Colic insurance.

Colic surgery can be expensive! For that reason alone, it is important to take advantage of the colic insurance programs available to equestrians. Colic insurance will guarantee you can afford the best care for your horse in a scary time.

Many boarding facilities will feed supplements when provided by the horse owner at no extra cost. Seize this opportunity and get your horse on an auto-ship schedule to your barn for convenience.

8. Schedule regular veterinary (and dental) exams.

a horse being seen by a vet for a dental exam

Regular veterinary exams are required for colic insurance coverage. But beyond a requirement, it is crucial to understand your horse's body and condition. As you would not go without the doctor, do not have your horse live without a vet.

9. Own a trailer.

Trailering fees add up quickly. If going off property is something you will do more than once a year, it is worth it to own a trailer. Owning a trailer means you can take control of your horse's transportation and safety, and most boarding facilities have room for boarders to store trailers (sometimes for a fee). Further, owning a trailer will allow you to transport your horse to specialist facilities in times of need. In Michigan, it is important to have the ability to move your horse to MSU, if necessary, for emergency veterinary care.

10. Hire an equine attorney to prepare any sale contracts.

If you are selling your horse, hire an equine attorney to prepare your sale contract. See The Role of the Equine Lawyer in Sales Transactions.

Owning a horse can be a wonderful experience, but it's important to remember that it also requires a significant amount of time, effort, and dedication. By following Matilda's top ten horse owner tips, however, you can ensure your horse is happy, healthy, and well-cared for while you are legally and financially protected. So whether you are a new or experienced horse owner, take Matilda's advice to heart and enjoy the rewards of a fulfilling, rewarding, and legally protected relationship with your equine companion.


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square

Wood, Kull, Herschfus, Obee & Kull, P.C.

bottom of page