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Liens for Care of Horses


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Liens are rights in property to secure the payment of a debt.  If you are purchasing a home or vehicle "on installments" the bank or finance company has a lien on the property you are buying.  If you do not make your payments on time, the creditor can execute on the lien by repossessing the car or foreclosing on the house mortgage.  The creditor can seize the property, sell it at a public sale, apply the proceeds of the sale to pay off the loan balance and expenses of enforcing the lien, and return the remainder (if any) of the sale proceeds to you.

Possessory liens are liens on property that is already in the possession of the creditor.  For example, if you take your automobile to a repair shop, the shop has a possessory lien on your car to secure payment of the repair bill.  That means it can keep your car until you pay the bill and, if it becomes necessary, can have the car sold to obtain its money.

(Scroll down to view state statutes.)

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An agisters lien is a special type of possessory lien that applies when one person takes care of the livestock of another by providing board or sometimes training for the horse or other livestock.  If you run a stable or train horses, you have possession of the horse and under the laws of most states can keep possession of that horse until your board or training bill is paid by the horse's owner.  If the nonpayment persists, you can have the horse sold to collect the amount owed.

This segment consists of the agisters liens in 49 states (none could be found for Rhode Island).  These laws spell out the rights and duties of the lien holder (stables or trainer) and the debtor (horse owner).  The laws in each of these states are the same in that they create a possessory lien but the procedures required to sell the horse to pay the debt vary greatly from state to state.

In addition to the liens that are the subject of this segment, there are three types of special liens that apply to horse transactions:  (1) in many states, veterinarians have a lien on the horse or other animal treated to secure payment of the vet bill, (2) farriers in many states have a lien on a horse he or she has shod to secure payment of the shoeing bill, and (2) in many states, stallion owners have a lien on the get or sometimes on bred  mares to secure payment of breeding fees.  These specialty liens are not included in this segment.  Those statutes are collected in the segment Liens for Services to Horses in this website.

As in the other statutory compilations in our web site, there are sometimes gaps in statutory numbering.  These gaps may reflect statutes that are not applicable to horse transactions or statutes that have been repealed.

Every effort has been made to make this compilation accurate and comprehensive.  However, no warranty or guarantee is provided and the reader is urged to consult an attorney knowledgeable in equine law in his or her state before making important decisions. These materials are provided for information only and not as legal advice; no attorney-client relationship is created or intended.

This page was initially posted on November 9, 1997.
All statutes were reviewed and updated as needed during June and July 2001.
All statutes were reviewed and updated as needed during May 2003.  These changes were posted in August 2003.

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