For example if you have to leave your horse with friends/family and they sell or give away your horse, they will claim to be the owner and even possibly sign a fraudulent bill of sale. The buyer has no responsibility to validate the authenticity of their signature as the legal owner. If local authorities are contacted and you tell them your friend/sister/brother sold YOUR horse without your permission and your friend/sister/brother claimed to be the actual owner and therefore supposedly had legal right to sell the horse, what do you think law enforcement will do? It will become a HE SAID-SHE SAID scenario. They will probably describe it as a civil matter and recommend you contact an attorney. On the other hand, if the CARETAKER has signed a Equine Caretaker Contract and the details of the arrangement are spelled out in the document, law enforcement will have something to review to give validity to your claim. I wish we still lived in a world where a hand shake and a person's word were enough but my friend those times are long gone. Do not take a chance, no matter how slim, that your horse can end up in harm's way because someone you trusted betrayed you by disposing of your horse without your knowledge.
Horse thefts are on the rise in modern America but the legal system's ability to deal with the issue remains in the dark ages. If your horse is stolen by a stranger call local law enforcement immediately. Contact all vets, humane societies, animal control agencies and equine rescues in the area. Immediately go in PERSON to all area livestock auctions to look for your horse. Reach out to media outlets and try to get your story out to the public. Post detailed descriptions on social media along with contact information and recent photos. The on-line community has far reaching capabilities to reach many people in a short period of time.
Do NOT give up, even when it seems that it's hopeless. There is always a chance that someone somewhere knows what happened to your horse and may be able to provide helpful information. As long as they are still alive there is still a possibility that you may be able to bring them home. Keep looking until they are found or there is positive proof of their demise. Please see the links below to websites that possibly be useful in recovering your equine friend. For a stolen horse, time is NOT on their side, do not delay, you really are their only chance of being found in time.
HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF AN EQUINE CARETAKERS CONTRACT BUT NOT INTENDED TO COVER ALL CIRCUMSTANCES OR LEGAL DETAILS IN YOUR PARTICULAR STATE OR COUNTRY. USE IT AS A GUIDE TO MAKE YOUR OWN CONTRACT. IF YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS ABOUT THE LEGALITY OF YOUR CONTRACT PLEASE CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY/LEGAL PROFESSIONAL.
Remember to add any additional information that is specific to your owner/caretaker arrangement. If the caretaker has any reservations about signing a contract, you should have reservations about placing your horse in that individual's care.
Another reminder: It's not about a lack of trust, it's about protection for your horse and increasing the chance of getting law enforcement to assist you in recovering your horse in case something goes wrong between owner and caretaker. Better safe than sorry!