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Jill Headford

Posted 31 October 2014
by Jill Headford

Livery yard owner kills and dumps horse – could it happen to you?

We are all appalled at the shooting of a healthy 7 year old horse by livery yard owner Edward Harvey Johnson.  According to reports, Johnson claimed that his livery contract gave him the right to kill the horse if his charges were not paid.  The sum outstanding was just £30.  It seems the horse was on loan to the lady who put him at livery at The GG Centre and argument now rages over whether Johnson should have contacted the owner rather than the loanee.  Either way it doesn’t help the poor horse and the only remedy left to the owner is an award of damages – likely to be far outweighed by legal costs and so not worth pursuing, even if The GG Centre could be made to pay up.

So how can you avoid this happening to your horse?  There are several points:

  • Having no written livery contract does not mean that no contract exists.  It merely means that there is no clarity about its terms.  Having a written, signed contract is therefore your best protection because it can spell out exactly what is to happen in such circumstances.
  • But not just any old contract will do – a form of loan or livery contract can easily be downloaded from the internet but it is not a matter of just having a document – what matters is what it actually says.
  • Most specialist equine solicitors will draft you a suitable contract which protects your interest and, more to the point, will explain to you how it works and what you can and should do in various circumstances, for a fee in the region of £250 plus VAT.

The moral of this tragic story has to be:  don’t loan your horse or put him at livery on terms which have not been laid down in a suitable contract, agreed and signed.


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About the author

Jill Headford

Jill Headford

Partner and Solicitor

A partner in the firm since 1994 and an experienced Court and Tribunal advocate, Jill specialises in resolving disputes and is a member of the Property Litigation Association