Can you prove you loaned your horse and didn’t give it away?
With the current economic climate looking gloomy, for many people loaning out their beloved horse or pony is the only way to keep them in their ownership and thus avoid a sale. Many loans are agreed verbally, on the basis that "we'll sign something later" or "I know they are good people… Bob said so"
If you are in financial difficulty you may feel that you can't afford to see a solicitor to have a loan agreement drawn up. However the small amount of money required could prevent you from losing your pony forever.
It would appear that there is a growing trend of people targeting horse owners, loaning their horses and then selling them on. "That's terrible…", I hear you say. But what if this happened to you and you were able to locate your pony in its new home? That would be ok wouldn't it? You would be able to get the pony back and the new owner recover their money from the immoral person? Actually, Maybe not!
A recent article in the Horse & Hound (3rd August 2011) clearly highlights the risks of loaning your horse without a written agreement. The article reports of a young lady in Northants who allowed her pony to go out on loan with the intention that the agreement be signed when she visited the pony in its new home in a couple of weeks time.
The loaner kept putting off the visit with one excuse after another. Eventually the owner discovered that the loaner had in fact sold the horse on. The owner had managed to locate her beloved pony, the new owner had confirmed she purchased it from the loaner, but the Police refused to become involved. The original owner of the pony said she loaned the horse, the loaner said she gave her the horse. However, with no loan agreement, there was no official, legal proof to show that the horse had been stolen. The Police will not prosecute the matter as a criminal offence as there is insufficient evidence and a Civil Action will prove costly and carries no certainty of success. In cases such as this, it is one person's word against the other.
As soon as you mention putting a horse out on loan people will tell you of horror stories heard or problems they have experienced personally. However, loaning can be a great solution, providing you ensure that you are organised and properly protected from the beginning.
Loan agreements can be as simple or as complicated as the owner and the loaner want them to be. The loan agreement is, in essence, a statement of fact confirming the ownership and intended scope of the loan, and a set of guidelines which both parties can refer to, to ensure that they get the most of their arrangement. It is a binding contract which can be relied on in Court if necessary.
Protecting your horse is always the ultimate goal and, by entering into a formal agreement, this is exactly what you are doing - ensuring that you have done your best to secure your horse's future.