Question for equestrian (horse) professionals and or knowledgeable people regarding contracts!?

OK, so PLEASE only respond if you know what you are talking about… however horse owners- I would like your opinion on what YOU would do in this situation.

Brace yourselves, its a long complicated ordeal… as is most of the horse world.

First off, (I’m REALLY going to try to make this NON complicated, and obviously anonymous so for future sake LAND OWNER is the owner of the property (all land and barn) LEASER will be the person "leasing to purchase" the so said property, boarding her lesson horses at the stable, also being the head trainer, and also in charge of all of OUR (me and other boarders) contracts… with me so far?) So. LEASER was leasing to own from the LAND OWNER, in a contracted agreement stating that the land owner would not be liable nor held responsible for the care of the animals on the premises, monthly payments to be made etc. Basically all care was signed over to LEASER as the barn operator, manager etc. In the meantime, LEASER (my trainer as well) was not returning my phone calls, emails, etc. reguarding my horse and lessons that I was forced to purchase with my boarding agreement. Board was to be paid in full at the begining of the month for the following month, including lessons. I’ve called, ive emailed and no one can get back to me.

On to the good part. FINALLY SOMEONE CALLS ME. Guess what? Every horse owners nightmare. LEASER hasn’t paid rent- she has NO feed, hay, shavings ANYTHING, and hasn’t for at least a week. (please note: I’ve been terribly ill this past week 1/2 and haven’t really even been concious let alone able to go out to see my horse, so all of this is the first time ive heard of any of this.) Then I’m told that what she was SUPPOSED to be getting fed, she wasn’t. Amount, type, everything. I have a tricky keeper, and i even offered to purchase my own grain. Then I find that she has been out 24 hours a day since AT LEAST FRIDAY. I PAY to have my horse boarded, and my horse is PRIVATELY OWNED. I DO NOT LEASE FROM "LEASER!!!". THEN, if thats not bad enough *its been anywhere from 30-72" out and my horse has had his sheet on the whole time. There is barely ANY water in the trough, and the other paddocks have NO water at all. So once i asked, i was informed that my horse had not been given grain *WAS getting7LBS day, plus 3 Flakes 3 times day*, or hay since Friday oh yes, did i mention at least? I realize that pasture horses YES can survive off of grass, but my horse has NEVER been allowed to be out past 5pm. (leaving them out that long when they aren’t used to it can cause founder WORSE problems with no water.)

So LEASER is asked to leave, along with said horses, and students were given a choice to stay or go given the circumstances. Here’s the issue. No one knows whether LEASER is taking her animals or not. By rights, now LAND OWNER is talking about taking them into custody. On this end, Land owner then states that HUMANE SOCIETY told him that if horses were taken into possession that he could throw them in a paddock and not give them water or anything else until bill paid in full. BS! I can tell you right now its a lie, ntm i called the humane society and she said ABSOLUTELY NOT AND IT IS CLASSIFIED AS ANIMAL NEGLECT/ABUSE and ALL horses would be removed off of the premesis. And I’m sorry, but was my horse about to be one of those, even though it’s privately owned??? YOU BET THATS WHY MY HORSE HAS BEEN NEGLECTED! Oh no, LAND OWNER tried so hard to find me, yet another girl randomly found me on FB to contact me, owner had no clue until i showed up. Go Figure.

As of my horse- she’s a mess. She’s lost a terrible amount of weight and she’s terribly thin. She’s acting very almost lethargic… but not. IE. Shes DEFINITELY not herself. I’m afriad with the varying in temps and with her being stressed about being left out (My horse CANNOT STAND to be out, let alone in the dark- she freaks) that her electrolytes could be the main cause of her lethargy. Not to mention I do not know her water intake over the past few days, she did pass manure today when i was with her… so at the moment there is no colic (cross your fingers) I gave her a small handfull of grain which she DEVOURED, and a little hay… the land owners are now "turning her out/feeding her/etc.," which, can someone please tell me why it wasn’t done to begin with? is it legal for them not to?

So… now that you know all the twisted sides to this mess, these are my questions:

1. I’m 99% sure that I will be pulling a vet out TOMORROW to do an eval on the condition above. If this turns into a lawsuit, who would this go against?! *Remember LEASERS contract to LAND OWNER said that land owner SHALL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR CARE* but under that, who would it go against?!

2. My horse randomly has crappy new shoes on that I didnt ask/sign up for. I dont have a bill and i have no clue where they came from. I had an apt with my farrier this week, and she wasn’t due. COULD THIS be added to a claim agai
just before i get concerns about priorities, my horse HAS officially been moved (i was waiting on a trailer n my car lol). thank God someone owed me a favor! Sorry for the little lack of the most important detail!!! great advice so far, much thanks!

4 Responses to “Question for equestrian (horse) professionals and or knowledgeable people regarding contracts!?”

  1. Karin C Says:

    1. Top priority is to get your horse out of this situation. Forget everything else: find a place where you can take her where you can assure that she will be cared for. Get your horse safe and taken care of first.

    2. Nobody can legally take possession of your horse. And nobody can take possession of your horse illegally if she is not on that property anymore. If anyone is trying to take possession of her in lieu of unpaid board, they have to go through a legal procedure that involves having a lien placed against the horse. Nobody will have had time to do this. However, if any of the people involved are stupid and/or unethical, there is nothing to prevent them from loading your horse on a trailer when you are not there and removing her. If they do this, they can be charged with theft, but who cares? You want to make sure she’s safe and cared for, you move her to another location and tell whoever to sue you. Get your horse safe and out of the way.

    3. When your horse is safe and moved from this location, get a vet to assess her condition and do whatever is necessary to keep her well/make her well if she is not. Make sure her condition is documented, with photos if possible. If you get involved in a lawsuit as either plaintiff or defendant, you want to make sure things are/have been documented.

    4. The greatest likelihood is that if your horse is not sick and you get her out of there ASAP, she will be okay. Also greatest likelihood, once you and your horse are out of sight of the landowner and leaser, nobody will sue you and nobody will bother you. Which is, ultimately, what you want. You can then find a permanent location for your horse, if you haven’t already, and decide if you want to sue anyone, which even if it doesn’t cost money up front (contingency lawsuits the lawyer gets paid from any damages you recover) involves headaches and embroils you in trouble.

    Prioritize your situation: top priority is to get your horse out of there. Second priority is to assure she is okay. Third priority is find a good place to keep her. Everything else can be dealt with later.

    Good luck.

  2. Sunny Says:

    I have absolutely no legal knowledge :) but as a horse owner I would probably cut my losses, get my guys out of their call in a vet and THEN try and work out if it was worth doing anything about.

    Were you given any copies of contracts or anything like that? I would take everything into a lawyer and get them to see what they think is/is not possible. Also I would write everything down with dates, all the calls you made, conversations you had everything. At least you can keep thoughts straight and will have the upper hand if this comes to a court situation.

    Good luck with everything, especially your mare. I hope some one here has some useful knowledge for you and I’m sorry I don’t!

    (I would think whilst ‘leaser’ was on the property it would be their responsibility and if the neglect continued after she left and the contract she had with ‘land owner was annulled it then would become ‘land owners’ responsibility. Could it be possible you have to go after both of them for this?)

    Edit – LOL in anger it can be hard to remember the most important bits. Glad your mare is out of there. At least you know she can’t be caught up in all this crap now!

  3. horse lover Says:

    Seriously, your horse is suffering in an unsafe situation, and your first thought is who you can sue? You need to be worrying about finding a safe place to move your horse. Once your horse is settled into her new home and recovering, then you can turn your attention to recovering the money you have lost, and maybe punitive damages too.

    Sorry, I’m not a lawyer so I can’t answer your legal questions.

    But I am a barn manager, and for many years I was leasing a barn from a land owner under a contract with them. I took over an existing barn and kept my lesson horses there and all current boarders had to sign new contracts with me and I became the sole person responsible for their care and feeding. So I understand the situation.

    I can tell you that this is going to be a huge mess for quite some time. It sounds like the #1 priority of the land owner is protecting themselves, not caring for the horses. I guess I cannot blame the land owners too much because this mess was dumped in their lap, but it sounds like they are lying (about what the humane society said) and are being vindictive to the horses to get back at the leaser.

    Regardless, YOU NEED TO GET YOUR HORSE OUT OF THERE, NOW!!! Who knows what sort of crazy thing might happen next? Who knows who is caring for your horse? Who knows if she is getting fed? What if your horse gets confiscated with the leaser’s horses? THIS IS AN EMERGENCY. Take off work TOMORROW and find another barn to move your horse to. IMMEDIATELY! And get the vet to come check her out.

    Sorry this happened to you. I’d be really upset too. But get your horse to a safe place first. Then, take a deep breath. Horses are pretty resilient – I’m sure that with a little TLC your horse will be fine. Finally, consult a lawyer to see if it would be worth your time and effort to sue. Make sure you take lots of pictures so you have proof, and maybe get your vet to sign a statment documenting your horse’s poor condition. However, if Leaser is truly broke, there may not be any money to recover from her anyway. I’m not sure if you have a case against Land Owner, but it sounds like Leaser was at fault. As far as the mystery horseshoes, I would refuse to pay for them. You did not ask for them, so you are not responsible for paying.

  4. Shandi Says:

    first off WOW!

    I am a horse owner and I board at a place where If my mom wasn’t over the boarded horses Id be worried. Anywho this is my take on the subject matter.

    The case would go against the Leaser. It is my understanding that it was the Leasers responsibility to care for the horses boarded at the facility and NOT the landowners. so they are out. I would pull up a suit against them for breaking contract (If it was stated what your horse would be given, turn-out time etc. in the contract you signed as a boarder.) Animal abuse, and emotional distress. Id also make them pay for all the vet fees and the cost of feed, vitamins, etc it would take to get your horse back to healthy again. Id also get every penny back from them spent on board and lessons etc. Id make them pay for taking off the shoes and Id have her feet checked by your farrier to see is the shoes caused any damage. Did you ever give any thought to the fact that your horse might have been used in your absence? The had shoes placed on for jumping or whatever for lessons? just a thought i had.

    And if it wasn’t against the law I’d prolly torture them for torturing my horses. but since that’s out id defiantly go with a suit.