Laws regarding boarding barns restricting access to your horse

Does anyone know of any laws or anything about boarding barns restricting your access to see your horses?

Say you own your horse, board it at a facility and the facility decides you cannot come out to see the horse, prevents the farrier from coming, and prevents anyone going out there to even check on the care of the horse. Are there any laws preventing this? What happens if something happens to the horse while you are prevented access?
Thanks in advance.

I think this question requires more information.
A boarding barn can set hours of operation, which I guess is also them saying you can not come out to see your horse when they are not open.
A boarding barn is a private business so they are allowed to not allow certain people on their property.
If a boarding barn is dealing with a communicable disease or trying to enforce what they think are the pandemic rules of the moment, I can totally see them restricting access.

Why is this barn not allowing you to see your horse?


My barn was open everyday and while they did have hours of operation, we were never banned from coming at any time in a 24 hour period as long as you were respectful to the BO’s living there and sleeping ( if in the middle of the night).

I agree that more info is needed but no way would I board at a place that says I can’t see my horse at least every day( normal daytime hours) and especially if vet, special health care or farrier is needed.

I guess it is good I don’t board anymore.


Barns can have operating hours.

Barns can lock down for Covid 19 or be in quarantine for horse infectious diseases such as EHV or strangles.

I suppose a barn could also get a restraining order against a problem boarder or family member or against a boarder in arrears with horse seized for a lien.

Some training programs want full custody of horse for a few months.

But honestly this is a really odd question because the basic idea of boarding is you get to see your horse. So we need to know the situation behind this drama.

If you don’t like the rules move your horse.




There’s a barn locally that had incredibly strict rules ie you cannot be on the property if the coach wasn’t there, had to book an appointment to be there at all etc etc. It was a stunning private facility that I think didn’t actually want boarders.

In the end they jacked up the board rates so high that the trainer had to move all her clients out.

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I’m with everyone else who agrees that more context is needed.

It’s not uncommon for barns to be closed to the public for entire days of the week or to limit visitation of any type to “by appointment only.”

I don’t think that’s any different than say, a hospital or nursing home having visiting hours.

Yet there are also plenty of crazy barn owner and/or boarder stories out there where one or both parties act inappropriately. Nothing would surprise me.


FWIW, the barn at which I board is closed Mondays. On any other day, you may not come before 8am or stay after 7pm. There are a billion zillion rules that change on the regular. I hate it, but the care is good and my options are limited.

Since it’s a private business, I would think they can do whatever they want. It is your choice to board there, so if you don’t like their hours and policies, you have the freedom to leave.

Now, if your boarding agreement says that you’ll have access to your horse all the time, that is a different story. But if you signed an agreement acknowledging these policies, I’m afraid you’re SOL. What does your boarding agreement say?

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… are you behind on board? Pretty sure we are all thinking it.


If this has anything to do with an EHV-1 outbreak….stay home! Biosecurity is much more difficult than the average horse owner is aware of.


@hollymae658, hoping you come back and give us more information. Good question. If you give us more details all the great horse people here will help you understand if what you are dealing with is typical or a sign that your barn owner is just plain weird.


I dealt with this when the BO closed the barn “100%” in April 2020 when the pandemic hit. She claimed the governor of Maine ordered it but she knew that was not true. So did a lot of other people. She lied. Lots of barns remained open. Businesses that take care of livestock, including horses, are “essential” and require adequate staff. Lessons and boarding are a product of the horse farming business, same idea as a farm that raises plants and sells corn and tomatoes. I’ve known her since 1999. I provided the state’s documents. I contacted the State Vet. She stated that they wanted to enable horse owners to provide daily care. BOs had the final say but the guidelines encouraged them work with owners to develop an agreement. This farm is so huge it was easy to keep social distances.

My horse was 26 on pasture board. He stood outside in a muddy field for a month. The BO told me in 2016 that he had 10 good years left. That was before she said he needed to eat more which he would have done given the opportunity. She was familiar with the knee. The lameness vet who has seen him several times said standing around with that degree of confinement enabled the knee joint to “harden up” because he wasn’t moving around. He lost a lot of flexion. We had some great riding through the end of March 2020. That is long gone. I’m working hard not to visit that BO to inflict great bodily harm. I’ve concluded she has developed early onset dementia from a stroke 10 years earlier. I didn’t believe her when she said “get out.” I guess I’ll leave her alone.

I had a discussion with the local PD about accessing my horse to move him in mid-April. The horse is my property. She cannot prohibit me from reclaiming my property to move it. She can say when but can’t lie to the PD. Same idea as the spouse walking out one day. You have to allow him to access his clothing because it is his property. Maine’s civil courts suspended operations which put you on a waiting list. My arrangements to move fell apart, but I could have had requested assistance from the PD if I needed it.

We didn’t make much progress getting him back in shape. He was sound through the 2020 summer with a long warmup. By October it was chronic. He continued to decline and was lame, depressed and malnourished. In November 2020 I moved him to a barn with a BO who was close to perfect. He gained back 150 lbs. He got a course of Adequan and a steroid joint injection. He was comfortable. I was able to ride from time to time. June 2021 kicked off our Century Ride year. Our ride was short but very sweet. We gave up trotting so I can’t ride a test for the Dressage Foundation’s club.

I retired him from riding last July. It’s hard to give that up. But now he is the happiest horse in the whole entire world. He is Mr Meet and Greet. He doesn’t look or act his age. He has a regular audience at his stall and runout. He meditates, observes and contemplates. Sometimes he invites you or maybe the UPS driver to chat. He dozes on a big pile of hay in the middle of his runout. He loves his grain very soupy. He tosses flakes of hay around to fluff it up. He makes a mound along the wall and kicks some out the back door. When I arrive he gives me a “yes or no” look if he is eating. Amazing.

When you move to a boarding facility and pay for care he is still your horse. In Maine and elsewhere it creates a bailment unless there is buy/sell transaction. BO has to return your property, the horse, in the same condition. You can sign a contract with limitations such as when the barn is open. There are statutes and regulations that spell this out. You should be able to google them.


Nice story with a happy ending walktrot.

There was one barn owner near me who tried to steal a boarder’s property when she went to move out. Boarder had to leave some things behind, like hay and grain and some tack, because her vehicle was stuffed and she needed to make two trips. BO tried to tell her that she abandoned the property and it was now hers. Well the cops didn’t think so and made her give everything back before she was arrested for theft. The place ended up closing due to nutso owner who had an anger management issue and was already arrested previously for domestic abuse.


Usually, when someone boards, the barn owner goes over specified hours or days when the barn is closed. If the barn is on someone’s property or there are people living there, it’s reasonable not to want to have a teen horse owner to pop in for a midnight ride in the summer, tempting as though it may be, or even an adult rider pop by at 5am before work and before it gets hot–though from the boarders’ perspective, coming at those hours might be desirable. Ditto coming on a Monday to ride, when the owner might want to use that time to drag arenas and do things that are hard to do with even one or two people riding or grooming on-property.

On the other hand, I’ve been in situations leasing a horse when the BO increasingly limited the hours when I could come versus the original agreement, not-so-gently communicating I wasn’t welcome. I ended the lease (easier than moving a horse you own, of course), but I can see this happening.

With a farrier or vet, I’ve heard of some boarding agreements limiting owners to only the owner’s single farrier or vet of choice. Not my preference, but not unheard of.

I mean, just because you own an animal doesn’t mean you have 24/7 access-even a boarding place for dogs has rules. BUT if you own your horse, don’t owe money, and there are no quarantine restrictions, why are they not letting you have access to your horse?


Cant give meaningful advice without knowing the terms of the contract OP signed.

Its your horse but their property and their liability insurance not to mention tack and equipment. There are legit reasons for sensibly restricting access. There are also people who have no business running a boarding barn and a few crazies out there. Who knows whats going on with OPs situation.


“Sensibly.” That’s it right there. “Legit” challenges a few of them also.

I wish the OP would come back to update what the parameters were regarding being prohibited from seeing their horse. The timing of this thread, made almost immediately following a Chronicle release detailing EHV-1 and subsequent lockdown at Meadowbrook Farm in Maryland, makes me wonder if it was related to that situation. In which case, the farm is absolutely right in not allowing anyone other than staff on property, no matter how hard that might be for the owners.


Or perhaps the OP is newer to horses and did not realize that barns often have open and closed hours along with one quiet day. I always wish posters like this would engage because it can be a learning situation for more than just themselves



Don’t most of us have some horror stories or helpful anecdotes about previous boarding and training facilities?

Lord knows I was at a bizarro place when I first moved to Arizona. It was a major transition already, going from having my horses at home/occasionally at the trainer, to a public boarding stable. Then I soon realized that the “manager” (note quotation marks for emphasis) was a non-horsey wackadoodle who capriciously set ever-changing hours of operation and strict rules for when horse owners could be in the barn. Why? Because those of us who knew anything were frequently catching the staff doing Wrong and Potentially Dangerous Things Around Our Horses. Needless to say, I didn’t stay there long.


Does anyone know of any laws or anything about boarding barns restricting your access to see your horses? One would surmise that when you sign a boarding contract you agree to the provisions in that contract, i.e. hours of operation

Say you own your horse, board it at a facility and the facility decides you cannot come out to see the horse, prevents the farrier from coming, and prevents anyone going out there to even check on the care of the horse. Are there any laws preventing this?
A barn /property owner has a right to allow or not allow anyone on their property. Some barns prefer boarders use their vet and farriers

What happens if something happens to the horse while you are prevented access? That comes under “Care Custody and Control” . and the barn owner /manager could potentially be liable for injury or illness to horse if it were a case of negligence. Ex: Failure to repair and maintain fencing, horse gets out gets hit by car. They could potentially be held responsible.
Thanks in advance.

I also agree this post’s timing is interesting with the awful situation Meadowbrook is going thru right now. Should this be what the OP is questioning they should be assured that in these situations state ag /animal health depts quarantine the facility and access to a quarantined facility is limited to only those who are providing care. They cannot risk anyone not following proper biohazard protocols which could carry the contagion to another facility.

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