Protecting Your Kids and Their Horses

Written by AJ Fudge

The bond between a child and their horse is one of the most special and important relationships that they will have in their lives. Horses are wonderful teachers, and they also provide structure and important lessons in responsibility and accountability. Any child that is fortunate enough to have a horse will be forever changed by the experience. Often the horse is the child’s best friend and most important source of growth, confidence, and fun.

When we are talking about planning to protect a horse that is owned by an adult, generally the main goal is making sure that the horse will receive the proper care even if something happens to the horse’s owner. However, when the horse’s owner is a child, the goal is not only to protect the horse, but to protect the child’s relationship with their horse. Here’s an example.

Jenny is a 10 year old girl who loves horses and is the proud owner of a pony named Rosie who she loves more than anything. Jenny’s parents take her to the barn several times a week where she spends precious time with Rosie and enjoys riding her with her other friends at the barn. Jenny also takes riding lessons with the barn’s trainer, and she has just started showing Rose in the pony ring. Jenny’s parents are of course paying the expenses for all of this, but they are more than happy to do so. They believe that Jenny’s relationship with Rosie is very important. It teaches her responsibility, gives her structure, and builds her confidence. Jenny also has many friends out at the barn, and her parents are happy that she is spending time with other children who are learning these same lessons.

Tragically, one day both of Jenny’s parents are killed in an auto accident. Luckily, they have a basic estate plan in place that names a guardian for Jenny, and provides finances for Jenny’s care and education. However, it makes no mention of Rosie. Jenny and Rosie must rely on the goodwill of the guardian if Jenny is going to be able to continue her relationship with Rosie. Unfortunately, this leaves open the possibility that Jenny’s guardian may decide that the pony should be sold or given away, and Jenny could lose her most important friend. Thankfully, there is a solution to this problem that will ensure that Jenny and Rosie get to stay together. It is called the Equine Trust.

The Equine Trust is most often used to protect a horse in the event something happens to the owner. However, in the case where a child is the horse’s owner, the Equine Trust will also protect that child’s relationship with their horse. This is how it would work in Jenny and Rosie’s case.

After purchasing Rosie, Jenny’s parents had me create an Equine Trust, and ownership of Rosie was transferred to the trust. Jenny’s parents are the trustees and Jenny is the ultimate beneficiary. The trust document contains very specific instructions regarding Rosie’s care, and also includes detailed provisions to protect Jenny’s relationship with Rosie and ensure that Jenny and Rosie’s schedule is not interrupted. The trust is modestly funded, and Jenny’s parents purchase a life insurance policy that will be paid into the trust upon their death. This ensures that there are monies available to cover all of the trust’s expenses including board, riding lessons, entry fees, vet bills, farriers, etc.

Now, Jenny’s parents have the peace of mind to know that if something were to happen to them, their daughter would not only be cared for, but she would also be able to keep her pony and have some sense of stability and security in a very difficult time. She will be able to continue her riding lessons, keep her friendships at the barn, and further her showing career. Most importantly, she will have her best friend to lean on.

Being able to ride and have a pony is one of the greatest gifts any child can have, so make sure it’s protected and not left to chance. If you would like to learn more about protecting your child’s relationship with their horse, please feel free to contact me for a complimentary consultation. I am available at 323­706­2847 or