What You Need to Know If You Run a Horse Boarding Facility

Maryland has many protections, regulations, and guidelines regarding the care of horses. Several of these directly impact owners of horse boarding facilities. As a boarding facility owner, it is crucial that you understand your obligations under the law. Whether you are running a large-scale horse operation, are just only one boarder to help defray your horse expenses, giving lessons, have a horse rental service, or are a rescue or stable sanctuary in the state of Maryland, you are required by law to be licensed through the Maryland Horse Industry Board. (Additionally, a few counties have further licensing requirements for boarding facilities.)

Regulations Affecting Horse Boarding Facilities

The MHIB requires that each horse be provided with shelter that is clean, dry, well-ventilated (but not drafty), and protects the horse from inclement weather. The stables and surrounding areas must also be kept neat and orderly and in good repair. This includes making sure that manure has not excessively accumulated and that flies and rodents are well-controlled. Additionally, fences that confine horses must be sturdy and in good repair, stalls cleaned regularly, and each horse must have bedding of a suitable material that is changed regularly and keeps the horse dry and clean. Tools used in the stable must be properly stowed, and the area must be free of hazards. Each horse under the licensee’s control must be provided adequate food (which must be of good quality and free of contaminants), water, and salt in suitable containers. Furthermore, each horse must receive regular routine care, including – but not limited to – worming, dental care, and foot care. And if the horse is sick, injured, or lame, it must receive immediate attention. Basic first aid supplies must also be on hand and kept in good order. Facilities which rent horses for self-guided rides or for guided trail rides must comply with a few additional requirements, including that each horse receives the rest and sustenance it needs each working day. Additionally, each horse that is tacked and awaiting use must have its girth loosened and be protected from the weather and not tied to the bit. A horse may not be used for riding or driving unless the tack is clean, in sound condition, and cannot cause pain or physical injury. Grooming equipment must be readily available, clean and usable. And any wagon that the horse may pull must be in good condition, with well-greased axles and operating brakes.

Get Legal Help Before You Have a Problem

As a horse boarding facility owner, you probably rely on a host of professionals, including farriers, veterinarians, and trainers to run your business. Unfortunately, many horse business owners do not utilize attorneys to ensure their equine affairs are in good order, which leaves them exposed to liability, government sanctions, civil penalties, and the negative consequences of poorly documented legal transactions. Don’t wait until you have a legal problem to retain an attorney! By the time that legal services are necessary, they are also far more costly and stressful than if you had done some preventative legal planning. As a horse farm owner and operator of a horse-boarding facility, Rebekah Damen Lusk is uniquely qualified to help clients in matters of equine law. Whether you are an owner, rider, breeder, or other equine professional, Lusk Law, LLC, offers a full range of equine law and horse legal services. Contact our office at 443-535-9715 if you need legal advice regarding equine law or horse-related legal issues.