Buy back clause wording advice

We have an older mare here that we pulled out of a kill pen last summer. She’s a sweetheart, quiet & serviceably sound for light work, but not a good fit for our lesson barn (not quite sound enough for our workload, etc).
One of our adult students has asked about buying her and it sounds like a good fit (they get along, she would only do light trail riding with the horse, etc).
However, we want to be responsible & stand by the horse and try to avoid her ending up in the same place we pulled her from.
So we’d like to include a buy back clause in the contract so that the buyer has the option (is “encouraged” to?) return her to us when she isn’t able to/doesn’t want to care for the old gal any longer.

I understand that buy back clauses are difficult to enforce and I am mostly thinking of it as a way to initiate the conversation of “if you can’t care for the horse any more, give us a call rather than sending her to the auction down the road” - while being a little more “formal”.

Any advice on wording it?
(we’ll be talking with our attorney as well but he isn’t an equine law person and “examples” have been helpful as starting points in our conversations in the past).

nb: We’d rather not lease the mare out from a liability point of view as our attorney advised us to avoid the scenario of owning/co-owning a horse kept somewhere else who injures a family on the road in the middle of the night.

might want to call it “A Return Policy”

The Morgan Safety Net has a return policy that is worded fairly none threatening that states if the person finds they cannot afford to maintain the horse that the Safety Net would accept the horse back without question

Here is the web link to their return policy


Thank you very @clanter! This is very helpful!

For horses like this, I sell them the horse for $1 and our contract states they can return the horse at any time for any reason, they deliver to me.

It has worked well. I also don’t like leases for liability reasons.


There’s always the ‘free lease’, on or off-farm. You retain ownership and ultimate control.


As long as you acknowledge that once the horse is sold and off your property, the new owners may or may not choose to contact you regarding a potential re-homing. The mare may end up getting sold again without you knowing about it.

1 Like

Thank you everyone!
Yes @Where_sMyWhite - I totally understand that once the horse is sold (even if only for $1 - which is what we’re leaning towards), it’s their horse to do as they please.
The buy back clause/return clause is mostly intended as a reminder that should they not want / be able to keep caring for the mare, we would take the mare back.


I am inclined to think that if you know her fairly well that she would rather take that option over auction for the mare. In so many cases auction is a last resort when the horse has an owner who actually cares.

Sadly there are many who don’t care at all.