Many thanks for a terrifically entertaining telephone call...
W., Homeplaces Magazine
|Once per month, this blog will share my insights on the facinating world of the horse business.
Although I will not be taking comments on this blog, your feedback is welcome - email link
Past Cases of the Month are available at this link
The current Case of the Month is available at this link
Case of the Month was an all too common neglect by the staff of a dude string in failing to make sure that a participant’s saddle was properly tightened.
This case involved a large man on a large, round horse. It didn’t take more than a few minutes for the horse’s sweat and the man’s weight to aid the saddle in slipping. The rider sustained serious injuries from the resulting fall.
The simple solution is for the wrangle to be diligent in tightening the cinch often during the ride; perhaps as often as every ten or fifteen minutes. Unfortunately, trail guides often get tired of constantly having to dismount and adjust tack.
Case of the Month revolved around the value of a 10 year old Arabian English Pleasure show horse. The IRS had challenged the taxpayers’ $30,000.00 assessment of the mare’s value in a donation; IE (the famous “8283” non-cash charitable deduction).
I was retained by the taxpayers and showed that the mare was actually worth much more than the taxpayers had claimed. The IRS frequently doesn’t comprehend horse valuations but finally capitulated after I submitted my report.
Sometimes it’s very wise to have a Certified Appraisal done before being challenged by the IRS.
Case of the Month involved a wealthy CFO of a large electronics chain. He and his wife were on vacation at a dude ranch.
Knowing that his riding skills were “nil” he said he did NOT want to ride. Unfortunately, he didn’t “stick to his guns” and went on a poorly supervised trail ride. The ensuing accident put him in a hospital for seven months and caused an expensive divorce.
It’s often a great idea to listen to the “little voice” saying “don’t to something” rather than risk injury; in other WORDS, be persistent in your convictions.
Case of the Month involved a very inexperienced horse buyer who relied only on the abilities of her unpaid “horsey” friend to evaluate her new purchase; she never even got on the new animal before she paid the purchase price.
Unfortunately the new horse hated the new owner and promptly put her in the hospital. The owner sued the friend.
The court found in favor of the “friend” since it was the buyer’s job to actually ride her new purchase.
The lesson learned is to not rely completely on knowledgeable friends to aid in your horse search.
The Case of the Month involved the accidental death of a woman being driven to her newspaper delivery job at 2:00AM in Shreveport, LA.
The woman’s husband unavoidably struck loose horses belonging to the defendant; the plaintiff was killed instantly.
It took the jury less than two hours to award $5.8 million dollars to her estate.
The lesson is obvious: keep your horses securely housed.
Case of the Month involved an individual living in a residential neighborhood who complained about a boarding stable that was obviously non-conforming and also in the neighborhood.
The defendant stable at trial, lost big time since the horse operation, was filthy; there was no “special use permit” and the neighbors hated the stable owner.
The lesson to be learned is to always work to make the neighbors happy and keep your stable clean and neat. If the neighbors are on your side, a Special Use Permit is easier to obtain.
Case of the Month involved a professional horse trainer that was injured by her client’s horse.
The trainer sued the client claiming no prior knowledge of the newly arrived horse’s kicking habits. The trial court and the Georgia Appellate Court both found for the client, saying that the trainer’s superior horse background protected the client from any legal action…in other words, (“ignorance was bliss”).
Trainers always need to completely size up the new horse that comes into their barn; most new clients either can’t or won’t say what their horse’s bad habits are.
The Case of the Month highlighted the need to be careful in sizing up one’s next horse purchase.
Advertised as “so gentile a child could ride him” brought the prospective buyer to look at the horse. Unfortunately, as the inspection was occurring the subject horse spooked and set back on the crossties seriously injuring the novice plaintiff/buyer.
While the horse was quiet to ride his ground manners were less than “quiet.” At trial it was brought out that the horse had a history of being horrible to work with on the ground.
The jury found against the defendant agreeing that the horse’s professional owner must have initially disclosed the bad ground manners to the beginner buyer.
Case of the Month involved a wealthy woman who wanted to invest in an Olympic caliber horse for her talented daughter, agreeing to pay the trainer 10% for his services.
The quality horse found by her long-time trainer was priced at a cool $1,000,000.00. The fly in the ointment was when she was instructed to wire the large amount of money to a bank in Zurich, Switzerland, (You’re right…it WAS fishy). The trainer made fully ½ of the deal.
When the woman found out about the fraudulent scheme she sued. The trainer claimed he was acting as a “broker” not her agent. Fortunately she prevailed at the settlement conference by proving she had relied on the fiduciary skills of her trainer/agent and had never been advised that he claimed to be a “broker.”
Remember that an agent, not a “broker,” has a financial duty to act on your behalf and can be held liable for his fraudulent dealings against you.
Case of the Month involved a valuable Thoroughbred prospect at a Florida stable.
The facility was so poorly maintained that the horse developed thrush and other serious hoof conditions which eventually led to his euthanasia.
The horse’s owner lived in Chicago and rarely had time to make the trip to Florida. On those few occasions she’d call ahead and the stable would be cleaned up before her arrival.
She filed suit when apprised of the miserable conditions and won a significant judgment against the boarding facility.
The lesson is so simple for the stable owner: fixing up, painting up, etc. is very inexpensive compared to paying a large dollar judgment.
Case of the Month concerned a dude ranch in Hawaii.
On a trail ride, one of the horse’s bridles literally fell apart from neglect. Unfortunately, the horse ran off causing the plaintiff to be severely injured.
The plaintiff won a substantial pre-trial judgment after witnesses and I testified at a mediation hearing. We showed that the dude ranch knew of the neglected tack and equipment but chose to do nothing about it. The insurance saw the “writing on the wall” and paid up.
The maintenance of the tack and equipment is so important and easily done. Good records and procedures would have eliminated this insurance claim settlement.
Case of the Month involved an owner’s horse tied up to a poorly constructed tie rack at a public stable.
A child skipping in the gravel was all it took to spook the horse that set back and un-earthed the tie rack. It took 20 long minutes to eventually catch the horse…still attached to the rack. The horse suffered numerous cuts, bruises and a pulled suspensory ligament.
The saying that “accidents just happen” was not enough to save the barn owner responsibility for damage to the horse. The case never made it close to trial; the insurance company just wrote the check to the horse’s owner.
Always make sure your barn and horse facilities are always up to date.
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