Trainer's Resource Guide

The USHJA Trainers Committee has created a Trainers Resource Guide as an educational and informational source for our hunter/jumper members. The information contained in the Trainers Resources Guide includes sample forms of recommended information and advice regarding insurance, taxes, financial assistance in a crisis, contracts and business ethics.

Table of Contents

The below links will scroll down to the appropriate section.

I. Horse Insurance
II. Taxes
III. Financial Assistance
IV. Business and Ethical Questions


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I. Horse Insurance

Equine Mortality

Full Mortality coverage is provided for death as a result of injury, illness, humane destruction and transportation anywhere in the continental U.S.A or Canada (optional worldwide territories are available) and includes loss or death as a result of theft. Premium rate is simply based on the horse’s use, breed and age.

Mortality Endorsements (Optional Coverage’s)

Major Medical & Surgical:

Coverage is provided for the cost of medical and surgical procedures performed by a veterinarian, including diagnosis as a result of an accident, illness or disease. Available for horses 30 days through 15 years of age. Annual aggregate limits range from $7,500-$10,000 per occurrence, with deductibles of $250.

Surgical Only

Should your insured horse require surgery, this endorsement will cover specified costs. Companies will pay reasonable and customary charges for surgical treatment (including anesthesia) necessitated by accident, injury or illness.

Loss of Use Including Economic Destruction

If your horse (12 years and under) becomes totally and permanently incapable of fulfilling the functions for which it is used, as stated in your policy, but its condition does not necessitate destruction for humane reasons the Loss of Use extension will pay you a percentage of the animal’s value as stated on the mortality policy. (Full X-ray reports and soundness exams are required for approval at the inception of this endorsement).

Air Transit/Extended Territorial Limits

Mortality coverage may be extended to include international transportation to and from other approved countries. Prior notification of transit must be given.

Farm Coverage

Farm & Ranch Owner’s Packages:

Equestrian facilities represent singular risks that require specific coverage’s. The insurance carriers provide a package policy specifically designed for farm and ranch operations, from small pleasure farms to multi-location commercial farms. An insurance package allows you to insure the following items under one policy.

  • Your home and/or employee tenant dwellings.
  • All dwelling contents owned by you.
  • All farm structures, including barns, arenas, run-in sheds, hay barns, workshops and other farm related buildings.
  • All farm machinery and tools/equipment such as tractors, mowers, blades, saws, drills and bush hogs.
  • Tack and related horse equipment.
  • Specifically scheduled items such as jewelry, furs, guns, fine arts and stamp collections. You can also schedule computers and home entertainment systems.
  • Barns and/or office contents such as furniture, fixtures and electronic equipment (typewriters, computers, fax, phone).
  • Miscellaneous Farm Property including hay, shavings, feed, ATV’s, entrance gates, fencing, pumps, well/wellhouses, signs and livestock (equine, cattle, and bovine, etc).
  • Your personal liability for owning or operating the farm property, as well as the business liability for boarding, breaking, training, riding instruction, clinics, shows, etc.

Liability Insurance

Commerical Equine Liability

This coverage is very important if you perform any commercial equestrian activities such as boarding, instruction, training, breeding, horse sales, etc. Coverage is provided if you are sued by a third party who is injured or whose property is damaged (excluding horses: see Care, Custody and Control Liability). The policy covers defenses fees and pays claims for which you are legally liable up to the policy limits.

Care, Custody & Control Liability

Consider this coverage if you board, train or breed horses for others. Standard General Liability insurance excludes coverage for personal property (such as horses) in your Care, Custody or Control. This void can be filed if one of those horses is injured or dies while in your care and you are found negligent. This policy will provide for the medical care or replacement cost of the horse up to the policy limits. Trailering is automatically included for up to a 100-mile radius from your facility, with additional transit coverage for the continental U.S and Canada available. Defense costs are also covered. This coverage does not apply to horses that you own or lease. Policy limits are available up to $2,500,000 per horse and $5,000,000 maximum loss per year.

Individual Horse Owner Liability

Horse owners are faced with unique liability exposures that may not be adequately covered under normal personal liability policies such as a homeowner policy. The insurance carriers have specifically designed an insurance policy to cover this horse owner’s legal liability for both bodily injury and property damage to others resulting from horse ownership. Individual owners of personal or show horses that do not receive income or are not involved commercially are eligible. Liability coverage, including defense costs, is available with limits up to $1,000,000.

Horse Show & Event Coverage

This liability coverage is for people or organizations putting on a one, two, or three day event such as schooling or rated horse show. It will cover you if someone is injured (participants are specifically excluded) or someone else’s property is damaged and you are held responsible. Policies include both a set-up and break-down day.

Workers Compensation

Workers Compensation insurance provides coverage for an “employee” (as defined by the applicable law of your state) who suffers an injury, illness or death on the job. Benefits can include reimbursement for medical expenses, doctor bills, hospital stays and rehabilitation costs. Benefits can also include reimbursement for a certain amount of the worker’s lost income. Many state laws require all employers to purchase worker’s compensation insurance.

II. Taxes

Income Taxes

Income tax resources include, the IRS Market Segment Specialization Program – Internal Revenue Service Section 183: Farm Hobby Losses with Horse Activities. This publication will explain what the IRS requires for accounting records along with how the IRS audits this industry. This can be found in under

Another tax resource includes the Tax Handbook provided by the American Horse Council. It can be found at

Payroll Taxes

Employees are subject to social security, medicare and federal income tax withholdings, as well as state income tax withholdings. Employers are subject to matching the social security and medicare taxes along with unemployment taxes for certain employees. More information can be found at IRS Publication 15, Circular E, Employer’s Tax Guide, found at It is very important that payroll taxes are reported and remitted timely. This includes the preparation and reporting of W-2 and 1099’s at the end of the year. Certain tangible property may be subject to a property tax by your city or town. Contact your city or town to discuss the tax ramifications; however, in many areas property tax abatements are available for farms. Contact your city or town to discuss the tax ramifications.

Sales Tax

Certain farm transactions, purchases and sales, may be subject to state and local sales tax. The internet is a good resource as most states provide sales tax information online. Contact your state sales tax department to determine registration requirements; taxable transactions; and how to remit any taxes to the state in a timely manner. Certain sales tax exemptions are available for purchases used on farms so it is important to contact your sales tax department.

Taxes on Independent Contractors

This is an area that is highly scrutinized by the IRS along with your workers compensation company and your state unemployment department. Improper classification from an employee to an independent contractor could result in the payment of back taxes, interest and penalties. Information can be found under Form SS8, Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding.

Illegal Employees

You must verify that each new employee is legally eligible to work in the United States. This includes completing the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form I-9. This and other information can be found at

III. Financial Assistance

The USHJA Foundation

The mission of the Foundation is to advance and promote the hunter and jumper disciplines of equestrian sport by supporting the programs of the USHJA and other activities consistent with the mission of the USHJA. The creation of the USHJA Foundation provides a non profit fundraising vehicle that will provide support to programs as well as develop funds for horses and horsemen in need. For more information please contact Whitney Allen at (859) 225-6707 or You can also visit the USHJA Foundation website at

United States Department of Agriculture

For more information on the various resources and aid provided by the U.S Department of Agriculture, please visit

The Equestrian Aids Foundation

For more information, please visit the Equestrian Aids Foundation website at:

IV. Business Questions/Ethical Equestions


  • Publish your commission rate in your rate schedule (usually 10-15%).
  • Be consistent with your practices regarding commissions.
  • Always be honest and "act in the best interest of your customer."
  • Use a full disclosure policy.
  • If a horse is under valued, best practice is to buy the horse and re-sell it yourself.

Business practices for Customer Longevity

  • Treat your customers with respect.
  • Command respect from customers.
  • Be honest and fair.
  • Maintain open communications.
  • Follow a policy of full disclosure.
  • Provide clear and easy to follow rules.
  • Educate in all aspects of the business.
  • Include them in the process.
  • Teach appropriate skills.
  • Show in appropriate divisions.
  • Charge appropriate rates.
  • Sell appropriate horses.
  • Charge appropriate prices and commissions.
  • Know your customer, understand their needs, expectations and objectives.

Horse Show Etiquette

  • Show in proper and legal divisions.
  • Be prompt and courteous.
  • Show respect for all competition officials.
  • Be clean, neat in personal appearance and stable area.
  • Share schooling area and jumps.
  • Humane/professional conduct towards clients and horses.

Judges Code of Ethics

By: The USHJA Trainers Committee

  • Judge and you shall be judged.
  • Always place honesty and integrity above all else.
  • Conduct yourself in accordance with the guidelines set by USEF and USHJA.
  • Honor your contracts.
  • Be professional in your judging.
  • Your general conduct both inside and outside of the ring should be above reproach.
  • When attending social functions where exhibitors are present, exercise particular discretion in discussing exhibitors or their horses.
  • Refrain from attempting to influence the decisions of other judges or officials and respect their individual opinions and decisions.
  • Refrain from conduct that may be considered prejudicial, to conduct yourself at all times in a manner that reflects positively upon the image of our sport.
  • Cell phones may only be on and used outside the judges box.
  • Video’s have sound, you may be heard on tape.
  • All judges should realize that the educational process is never ending and throughout one’s career, seek new sources of knowledge and information, as well as dedicating time to refine and perfect a base of existing knowledge.
  • Dress appropriately.

When a Client Wants to Change Trainers

When Your Client Leaves Your Barn

  • Settle all financial responsibilities before client leaves.
  • Be sure to send all of the horse and client’s tack, clothing, et cetera when the horse leaves.
  • Provide a brief summary of the horse’s eating and maintenance program.

When Someone Else's Client Approaches You

  • To ensure the prospective client is serious about changing trainers, you may want to ask them the following to explore their interests:
  • Who are you riding with at this time?
  • Does he/she know you wish to make a change?
  • If you choose to move to my barn then you should communicate with your trainer openly, settle up any open bills and matters, and coordinate the arrival date

Most times when a client changes trainers the opportunity to call the original trainer and courteously state: Mr./Mrs. “XYZ” have contacted me about coming to my barn. Have he/she spoken to you about this?

  • If yes, then useful and honest information should be exchanged about the client.
  • If no, then ask the other trainer to talk to the client and get the facts out in the open. Either way, the client is moving and it is worth maintaining your relationship with your professional colleagues by making the phone call.

Drugs & Medication Rules

  • The drug rules can be found on the USEF website ( rule book under Chapter 4.
  • For more detailed information regarding forbidden substances, suggested withdrawal times, compliance with the drug rules, etc. you can visit via the website ( or by hardcopy information supplied by the USEF Drugs and Medication Department. The hardcopy can be requested from the USEF D&M office.
  • Most breeds and disciplines that compete under USEF Rules are subject to the Therapeutic Substance Provisions.
  • FEI recognized events are subject to the FEI Veterinary Regulations. This is a no foreign substance rule, which includes reporting requirements for the treatment of illness and injury.
  • Under USEF Rules, the trainer is held responsible and accountable for the condition of the horse or pony and for compliance with the rules. A trainer is defined as any adult or adults who has or shares the responsibility for the care, training, custody, condition, or performance of a horse and/or pony. Said person must sign the entry blank of any Licensed Competition whether said person be a trainer, owner, rider, agent and/or coach.
  • The Federation cautions against the use of so-called herbal and natural products, the ingredients and properties of which are not known.
  • Cooperation with the drug testing veterinarian and/or his technician is paramount.
  • Members can find medication report forms at the competition office or with the steward.
  • A trainer of a horse/pony who is found to contain a forbidden substance/overage may be subject to whatever penalty is assessed by the Hearing Committee (except for administrative penalties issued by the Chairman of Drugs and Medication Committee).
  • An owner of a horse/pony who is found to contain a forbidden substance/overage may be asked to forfeit all winnings at the subject competition and to pay a $200 redistribution fee to the competition.
  • Individuals who have questions about the drug rules may contact the USEF Drugs and Medication Department at (614) 771-7707.

Equine Retirement Directory
Horse Welfare Guide