Australia: Agistment of horses: written agreements have benefits for all parties

In brief - Reduce the likelihood of disputes with a properly drafted agistment agreement

If you agist your horse on someone else's property, or you have someone else's horse agisted on your property, it is highly advisable to have a written agistment agreement setting out the obligations and responsibilities of all parties.

What is agistment?

Not all horse lovers own the property of their dreams - rolling hills, a top notch stable complex and luscious feed. So, a workable alternative for many is to agist their animal on someone else's property.

Agistment is very common in the equine industry. It involves a situation where the owner of a horse sends it to the property of another person ("the proprietor") to be fed and cared for. Historically, the meaning of the word was limited to a situation in which a horse or other animal was allowed to graze on the proprietor's property. However, the definition has broadened over time.

Presently, a horse on agistment may be, and frequently is given full care, i.e. hand fed, rugged, stabled and sometimes even exercised by the proprietor. The important element is that possession of the horse is given to a person (other than its owner) who is to be responsible for the horse's welfare.

What are my obligations as the proprietor?

Agisting horses on a property that you own can be a lucrative business. However, it can also be a very risky business. Proprietors have a general duty to take all reasonable and proper care of a horse. This means that the proprietor is answerable for the reasonable or proper care for the health, welfare and safety of the horse.

If you are planning to agist horses on your property, or you currently agist horses on your property, you should be mindful of the obligations you have to the horse's owner. Some of the obligations are to:

  • ensure that the property or enclosure is and remains safe and free from hazards;
  • ensure that you house the horse in the manner agreed with the owner. For example, if you agree that the horse will be housed alone, then you cannot house the horse in a paddock or enclosure with other horses. If you do and the horse is injured, you may be liable for any loss or damage suffered;
  • ensure that the horse has access to water and feed; and
  • promptly notify the owner of important information. For example, if the paddock is low on feed; if the horse's condition deteriorates; if another horse on the property has an infectious disease which may affect the owner's horse etc.

What are my obligations as the owner of the horse?

As the owner of the horse, you also have obligations, including but not limited to:

  • ensuring that you are satisfied that the proprietor's property is satisfactory for the purpose that you require and is a safe place for your horse to reside. For example, the paddock may be fenced in barbed wire which may cause you concern. You should properly inspect the property prior to agisting your horse at the proprietor's property;
  • ensuring that your horse is and remains in good health whilst on the property. For example, unless otherwise agreed with the proprietor, you would be responsible for ensuring that your horse is regularly wormed, has the appropriate vaccinations and is regularly shod or attended to by a farrier;
  • unless otherwise agreed with the proprietor, ensuring that you provide the necessary equipment to allow your horse to be properly cared for to your requirements. For example, providing halters and leads, rugs, vitamin supplements etc;
  • ensuring that you pay the proprietor in accordance with the agreement struck; and
  • ensuring that you listen and act on the information provided to you by the proprietor. For example, if the proprietor contacts you to advise that your horse needs worming, you have an obligation to ensure that you worm your horse within a reasonable time.

Should I use an agistment agreement?

There are countless benefits to both proprietors and horse owners in using a properly drafted agistment agreement. An agistment agreement will usually specifically address issues including, but not limited to:

  • price for services, including what costs and related services are to be included or excluded from the price for services;
  • the extent of the duties the proprietor is required to perform to care for the horse. For example, whether the proprietor is required to feed, stable, rug and exercise the horse, or, whether only feed and stabling are required. Specifying these duties means there can be no confusion in the future;
  • what obligations the horse's owner has while the horse is in possession of the proprietor. For example, attending the property regularly to ensure that the horse remains in good health, has access to water and is exercised;
  • what is to occur in the event the horse needs urgent veterinary attention. For example, the agreement may state that in the event of an emergency, the proprietor can engage a veterinarian of their choice without having to check with the owner first. Alternatively, the agreement may state that only a particular veterinarian is to be engaged in the event that the horse needs urgent care;
  • minimum requirements to be performed by the horse's owner. For example, ensuring that the horse is regularly wormed, vaccinated and shod;
  • who will be responsible for damage or loss caused to the horse whilst it is in the proprietor's possession;
  • who will be responsible for damage or loss caused by the horse whilst it is on the proprietor's property;
  • who will be responsible for damage to the proprietor's property caused by the horse; and
  • what recourse the proprietor has if the horse's owner does not pay the agistment fees. For example, the proprietor may exercise a lien over the horse, or keep possession of the horse, until the outstanding agistment fees are paid in full. Alternatively, if payment is not forthcoming, the proprietor could sell the horse, apply a portion of the sale proceeds to the outstanding agistment fees and then return the balance of the sale proceeds to the owner.

Registering your interest in your horse in the Personal Property Securities Register

An added protection for a horse owner, while their horse is in the possession of the proprietor, is to register their interest in their horse in the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR). A proprietary interest of this nature is called a security interest.

The PPSR is a national register which lists all the security interests that people and corporations have in personal property. In this circumstance, when the register is searched, the person or entity performing the search is notified that the owner has a proprietary interest in the horse.

The issue of liens and security interests is complex and significant. Accordingly, these two issues will be addressed further in my next article.

Having certainty around the matters listed above will ensure that both parties to the agreement can rely upon it and immediately turn to the provisions contained in the agreement in the event of a dispute. This can avoid unnecessary and sometimes emotionally charged arguments about who is responsible for what. Ultimately, having a properly drafted written agreement can save everyone both time and money if a dispute arises.

What if I don't have a written agreement and a dispute arises?

Horses can be unpredictable and accidents can happen. In some instances, one party to an agistment arrangement may suffer damage as a result of the negligence of another party, unexpected behaviour of a horse, or as a result of a random act of God or nature. Usually, the question will follow – who is liable for the loss or damage?

In this forum, it is very difficult to provide advice on what to do if this occurs and you do not have the benefit of a written agreement. Suffice to say that liability will depend greatly on the individual circumstances. If you find yourself in this position and you are unable to resolve the matter amicably with the other party to the agistment arrangement, then promptly obtaining legal advice is strongly recommended.

Property drafted agistment agreements protect all parties

Agistment can be problematic, particularly in the event that a dispute arises between the parties. For the protection of all involved, including the horse, the best way to reduce this risk is to ensure that you enter into a properly drafted written agistment agreement. This will reduce the likelihood of a dispute arising and narrow this issues if a dispute does arise.

Unexpected incidents with horses have occurred in the past and will continue to occur in the future. They are part and parcel of owning horses and choosing to have them reside on another person's property. To avoid disputes, all parties to an agistment arrangement should be mindful of their obligations to each other and to the horses involved.

Greer Oliver
Key Contact:
Rhett Oliver
Equine law
CBP Lawyers

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions