Breeding

Stallion Breeding Contracts 101, Part 1

What mare owners should look for in a typical horse-breeding contract.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

There are a number of elements to consider in a horse-breeding contract. Journal photo.

The right breeding contract between a stallion and mare owner can prevent a number of foreseeable problems. Both stallion and mare owners are sometimes surprised to learn - especially after things go wrong - that their breeding contracts have failed to address critical and foreseeable problems.

If you are breeding a mare this season, as you go through the process of selecting a stallion, here are some elements of breeding contracts in the equine industry to consider.

Contracting With the Right Person

Mare owners should make sure that the one with whom they are contracting has authority. Never accept a contract signed by an employee or agent unless you have first confirmed that the party presenting the contract and signing it has authority to do so. If the stallion is managed by someone other than its owner, the contract can specify that the manager has authority to transact business on behalf of the owner and, of course, execute contracts. And unless a farm name is a true legal entity (such as a corporation or limited liability company), it should not be named as a party to the contract.

The contract can include a clause stating that the party signing the contract on behalf of an entity (such as a partnership, corporation, or LLC) is duly authorized to do so and to bind the entity to the terms of the contract.

This issue has actually come up in litigation over the years.

Stallion Availability

The stallion’s availability during the breeding months is critical: Some stallions maintain showing schedules while advertised to the public for breeding. For breedings requiring timely access to the stallion - breeding with fresh semen via live cover or artificial insemination, or cooled shipped semen (as opposed to frozen semen that can be stored for shipment) - the contract can specify a range of dates or months in which the stallion is available.

Disclosure of Diseases and Hereditary Conditions

The health of the stallion is vitally important as it can directly affect the health of the mare, her offspring, and even the mare owner’s farm.

The breeding contract provides an excellent opportunity for the stallion owner or manager to certify that the stallion is in good health and whether or not, for example, he is a carrier of diseases such as equine viral arteritis (EVA), hereditary equine regional dermal asthenia (HERDA) or hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP). Mare owners might want assurances within the breeding contract that the stallion has been tested for any or all of these.

Payment Obligations

To prevent surprises and stay within budget, mare owners can look to the contract to specify fees that the stable expects to charge in the breeding process. By listing fees and charges, the parties to the breeding contract can avoid disputes and clarify the process.

Mare owners should examine the contract for fees such as:

  • Shipped semen collection fees and/or shipping fees
  • Shipping container deposits and refund terms for the deposit
  • Booking fees: While breeding farms vary in their reasons for using a booking fee, a common reason is to secure a spot on the stallion’s breeding list for a given year.
  • Sales taxes
  • Other services that the stallion manager might secure for the mare and pass along to the mare owner for payment, such as veterinary fees and expenses associated with the breeding process, including uterine culture tests, ultrasound, hormonal treatments, etc.

Download our FREE Horse Breeding: Older Maiden Mares e-book to make sure your older maiden mare is prepared for foaling season. 

Look for dates when payments are due. Contracts frequently address nonpayment or late-payment problems, such as late-payment fees and interest on unpaid balances. While reasonable late-payment fees are commonly found in equine industry contracts, interest rates can vary considerably because state laws regulate maximum interest rates. What is legal in one state could be considered excessively high in another.

Foal Guarantees

In the American Quarter Horse industry, breeding contracts customarily come with a “live foal guarantee.” Some stallion managers even offer “live color foal guarantees.” As simple as the terms may seem, they can generate widely different expectations among mare owners and stallion management. To prevent misunderstandings, the breeding contract can define these terms.

As examples, the live foal guarantee can be defined as:

  • A single foal that can stand and nurse; or
  • A foal that survives for 24 hours (some contracts extend this to 72 hours) after birth

Less common are “no guarantee” breeding contracts in which the mare owner receives a breeding right for a season, but no rebreed rights follow if the mare fails to generate a live foal. In other breeds where frozen semen is the norm, occasionally stallion owners will offer frozen semen straws for sale with no return rights, no guarantee of fertility and no live foal guarantee.

Questions about breeding your older mare? Download our FREE e-book, Horse Breeding: Older Maiden Mares, for all the details and answers you need to keep your mare and foal healthy. 

About the Author

Julie I. Fershtman is one of the nation’s most experienced equine law practitioners and is also author of three books on horse-related law. Her website is www.equinelaw.net.

Note: This article should not take the place of your own attorney’s advice.