University of Florida

Horse Lease Form
- Background & Help ...


When to use it ... Where to find it

Beginning with the 2011/2012 4-H year, all 4-H’ers who lease a horse to use as a 4-H Horse Project should be using this form. Compared to the old form, you will notice that it is much more thorough, more applicable to today’s typical lease practices, and offers much more opportunity to include specifics about “who’s allowed to do what.” All of this leads to increased protection for both the horse owner and 4-H member over the term of the lease.

The new lease form is identified as "4H HSF 01" and is linked on these pages and is also on EDIS. The form is in pdf format, but can be filled in on screen and printed. And since there might be a certain amount of redundancy when the horse owner fills out the addendums, being able to edit portions on-screen and printing a second version should save them a bit of time. Also notice that the new forms need to be notarized.

Why the new form

Beginning in 2011, three youth are able to share in a lease of a horse instead of two. The old form had some showing rules statements that did not agree with the Area and State rules. And revising it to be current and leave space for three people to each complete leasing details on one form quickly became cumbersome. So we ended up starting from scratch to create a current, applicable form that fit the program and included things the previous version was lacking.

The new form is designed to be a single agreement between one youth and one horse owner. If someone else is also co-leasing that horse, he/she needs to fill out separate forms. We also revised the nature of the lease to apply more to youth using a horse that stays at the owner’s barn, rather than for a horse that relocates to the youth’s property or boarded somewhere else. For horses that are leased or used by anyone in addition to the one youth in the agreement, the owner should complete an addendum which discloses a summary of the other person’s rights and responsibilities (as far as maintenance, riding, showing, etc.). If all of this sounds confusing out of the blue, no worries, we also included two pages of instructions and ‘things to think about’ when completing a lease (included in the pdf file). A number of agents, leaders, state faculty, and even attorneys have reviewed the forms and given input so we hope that 4-H’ers who lease horses find the new forms very helpful.

What are the lease rules

Here are some excerpts of any rules involving leases from the current rulebook (key wording is in bold):

"Participant must manage at least one horse of any age or breed as a 4-H horsemanship project. The horse must be owned or leasedby the 4-H member, the member’s parents, brother, sister, or legal guardian and certified as a 4-H project by January l of the current 4-H year.

Leasing will be permitted with the approval of the county agent and/or advisory committee. A notarized lease form 4H HSF 01 must be on file at the County Extension Office by January l for the horse to be eligible to participate in area or state shows in the Florida 4-H Horse Program. A maximum of three 4-H members may lease and show a single horse.

A single horse (whether owned or leased) may be shown by a maximum of three 4-H members at the Area and State horse shows. In the case where a horse is shown by more than one 4-H member, the maximum number of classes a horse may enter is six. A horse is allowed to enter a single class only once."

Notarizing Signatures

New to this version of the lease form is the need for signatures to be notarized. Notarizing a document does NOT prove the truthfulness of statements in a document, legalize, or validate a document, it merely confirms the identity of the person signing it. Here is some more background from the National Notary Association (with our comments after some of them):

Q:
A:

Why are documents notarized?
Documents are notarized to deter fraud and to ensure they are properly executed. An impartial witness (the Notary) identifies signers to screen out impostors and to make sure they have entered into agreements knowingly and willingly.
4H comment: It is the “entered into agreements knowingly and willingly” portion that is important to our purposes. Youth, their families, and the horse owners need to understand that they are entering into a legal document and as much detail of the terms as possible should be spelled out and agreed upon.

Q:
A:

Can I notarize a fax or a photocopy?
A photocopy or fax may be notarized, but only if it bears an original signature. That is, the copy must have been signed with pen and ink. A photocopied or faxed signature may never be notarized.

Q:
A:

Does a document have to be signed in a Notary's presence?
No and yes. In most states, documents requiring acknowledgments do not need to be signed in the Notary's presence. However, the signer must appear before the Notary at the time of notarization to acknowledge that he or she freely signed for the purposes stated in the document.
An acknowledgment certificate indicates that the signer personally appeared before the Notary, was identified by the Notary, and acknowledged to the Notary that the document was freely signed.
4H comment: The lease forms ask for an acknowledgement, therefore the signer must personally appear to the notary. So if the youth (or parent) and horse owner have to be present with the notary, then they might as well sign in their presence also. If the form is signed ahead of time, the notary may or may not ask the signer to re-sign the form in the notary’s presence. The youth (or parent) and horse owner do not have to appear together – the notary sections are completely separate for each so both parties can notarize the form at their own convenience.

Q:
A:

Can I notarize a document with blank spaces?
This is prohibited by law in several states. Even if not addressed in statute, a prudent Notary should skim the document for blanks and ask the document signer to fill them in. If they are intended to be left blank, then the signer can line through them or write N/A.
4H comment: This is just a bonus factoid to keep in mind when completing the forms. Even if there is nothing to enter for various responses, be sure that that the blank is crossed through or has “NA” before taking it to the notary.

So, yes, notarizing is an extra step, but the intent is to encourage folks to enter these agreements “eyes wide open." We hear way too many reports of leases that went bad by one party or the other not holding to it, or terms being more of a verbal understanding than written, or paperwork just being filled out as a technicality to show at 4-H shows. Inevitably a lack of specificity in the agreement is bound to come back and bite someone in the hindquarters. If folks have to treat the lease form more like a legal document, hopefully they will be more likely to sit down and really think about what they are getting in to.

Who fills out what forms ... Who signs what ... Which forms are notarized ... Who gets what copies?

This is briefly described in the instructions, but let's clarify with an example. Keep in mind that the purpose of the addendums is to disclose as much information as possible about the use of the horse to the Lessee. If someone is leasing a horse and has at least partial responsibility for it, he/she should be able to know exactly who else has use of that horse and what are the responsibilities of the others.

So for example, let’s say three 4-H youth (A, B, and C) are leasing a horse for purposes of lessons and showing at 4-H shows. The horse stays at the owner’s facility and may also be available for outside lessons when none of the Lessees are using him.

  1. All youth involved in a lease with a horse owner (“Owner”) should have his/her own agreement with the Owner. This means youth A will complete the primary agreement (3-page form) with the Owner, youth B will have his own agreement with the Owner, and youth C will complete an agreement with the owner. Each youth’s terms may be different in regard to access times, showing permissions, costs, care, etc., so those agreements are made separately. Plus, if/when one of the lessees does something to break the lease, the other lessees have separate agreements and are not affected. (This is where filling the form out on-screen might be helpful to the Owner. He/She might be able to enter most of the information once, and then edit it slightly for each youth before printing the next version.)
  2. All of these primary 3-page agreements would need to be notarized.
  3. A copy of each primary lease form should be given to the County 4-H agent, each youth should keep a copy of his/her own form, and the Owner should have a copy of all three forms.
  4. Addendums. The Addendum is basically a disclosure by the horse owner to the lessee of how the horse will also be used by others. So, for youth A, in addition to the primary 3-page agreement, the Owner should also disclose youth B’s use responsibilities with the horse, youth C’s use responsibilities, and also how it might be used by the general public for lessons. So in this example:
    • The agreement with youth A should include three addendums – one describing youth B, one describing youth C, and one describing the general public’s use. The Owner and youth A would sign each of these, signifying that the use is understood and agreed upon. Copies of each would be kept by youth A and the Owner.
    • Similarly, youth B’s agreement would include addendums describing youth A, youth C, and the general public. Both the Owner and youth B would sign each of the three addendums. Copies of each would be kept by youth B and the Owner.
    • And youth C’s agreement would include addendums describing youth A, youth B, and the general public. Both the Owner and youth C would sign each of the three addendums. Copies of each would be kept by youth C and the Owner.
  5. None of the addendums need to be notarized. They are simply a disclosure from the Owner to the particular youth. Again, this is a helpful way the owner can complete most of the information on-screen and make edits between addendums.
  6. The 4-H agent does not need a copy of everyone’s addendums. The 4-H office will have a copy of everyone’s agreements, so there is no need for them to keep the various summaries as well.

At first read-through this might all sound very cumbersome. But we believe that when folks really look at it, it will all make sense to them. And in the end, everyone on both sides will be much more protected.

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