Thank god you're getting your horses out of there! I agist paddocks with my sister in law, we both pay for whichever paddocks we use and if there's a problem she calls me straightaway, we often share farriers, but there is one guy she uses sometimes that I just don't quite trust, I had him do some training with my young mare, but his shoeing just isn't up to scratch if you ask me.. and I just tell her I can't afford it when she gets him out to hers.
We each buy our own feed and equipment, sometimes things get mixed up and we'll have the odd tiff (we once had a HUGE one over hay.. she thought her brother had bought it and I was using it for my families horses, but I'd paid for it - so that sat her on her face and she's been cordial ever since) but generally we borrow things without problems, we both like each other to ask before borrowing, as even if somethings been sitting for months, you never know when you might need it - like last month I was prepping for my first show of the season and had washed my chestnut gelding, to find that my show rug had been borrowed for her grey gelding and was covered in white hair! Not pretty, but these things happen.
If it was her place and I was paying her board or agistment, I'd definitely have a contract. During the floods I had to move my mare into a paddock belonging to a past employer.. we both made sure we had a contract, if only a short term one.
It's definitely the way to go. I'd make it so that day to day "routine" care decisions are up to the horse owner, such as choice and quantity of feed, farrier work, vet checks, parasite control, exercise. Emergency decisions can be made by the land owner.
As to what makes an emergency, well I'd make that decision with the land owner - it's things like that where difference of opinion can cause HUGE problems.. is getting caught in a fence an emergency if they only have a scratch? Maybe they panicked when they saw the blood... who knows and you could end up with a huge bill for nothing really.
On the other hand, if you're really far away, like I was a while back, and was agisting my new mare with family.. I said I have to be away, but you have my number, ANYTHING she needs, call me or send me the bill and I'll deposit the money (I'm my mother's POA, and I have a bank card for her a/c, the horse was at her bf's) and mum can give it to you.
I was regularly putting money in for wormer (she's a brilliant doer and the pasture was amazing out there, she's 4 and was really overweight when I sent her out, and he'd call me if she needed extra, right?).. and I know mum was buying it (she's just that kind of person) and when I got back, months later, I'm asked when I'm going to go and buy her some food because she's been eating all his! Turns out he had put dozens of horses in the paddock, ruining the pasture and ended up having to feed them all.
Then he goes so when are you going to come out and worm this mare?!
Mum had given him the tubes of wormer, but he'd been afraid of her and didn't want to do it himself... not once had I recieved a phone call from him, when I spoke to mum he'd told her everything was fine, but she'd needed some paste.
So I went out there to take her back and I was dumbfounded... I didn't recognise her! The ridiculously overweight, playful and vibrant paint mare I'd sent out had become skin and bone, her coat was rainscald and scabs all over, lice, ticks, wormy, had diarrhea, long, cracked hooves and stood there looking longingly at me when I got out of the car. I nearly died of disbelief. I went into the house, grabbed my tubes of wormer, put all but one in the car walked through the gate and put half a tube in her - no halter, leadrope, nothing. She just stood there. I got my halter and lead, slipped it on and got her out of there.
I housed her at the local showgrounds for 3 days while she was vet checked and had her feet done, sprayed for ticks and lice, and started her skin treatments. Apparently the old owners had removed a tick but left the head. She'd had a small infection which I'd treated with antiseptic cream and had nearly cleared up completely before I left. It had become re-infected, probably because of the lack of nutrition and she'd come close to death, but no vet had been called for her. Turns out he didn't want to pay money upfront and then get paid back.. so he did nothing (I did this man's taxes for years, he thinks less than a $10,000.00 balance is "broke") !
Then, after moving her, and saying nothing to anyone about where she was, enduring the looks when people saw her (I kept her rugged and told people she'd been really sick) I was assaulted by his daughter for apparently telling people he starved her! He'd told people she was out there, whinged and carried on about her being there, even said I sent her there hoping she'd get out and get in foal to his unreg PONY stud (as if!) and then they saw her when I got her back... dug his own grave there, people aren't stupid.
Hopefully this thread will prevent others from having the same problem, although most of us are inclined to be trusting, but I've learned the hard way not to be anymore. Have a contract, no matter who they are!