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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
Revolved around a rather inebriated group of family members bringing the family horse down by a popular camping spot.
Anyway, the horse got loose and managed to step on a fisherman and kick a young child.
The injured parties sued and recovered a substantial sum. Amazingly, the defendants claimed that the horse had every right to be “down by the river” and that the injured should have “kept out of the way.”
The jury took about one hour to find for the plaintiffs and the lesson is obviously to keep your prized horses away from areas where a horse is normally not found……..and keep booze away from you and your horse!
Equine neurological injuries are relatively common and extra care needs to be taken since symptoms can show up later and be quite serious.
Keeping track of your horse’s way of going sounds simple but often a horseshow vet might not see that an equine patient is not going the way he or she usually goes.
Even a mild concussion needs to be observed by its usual vet and the horse put on stall rest or very slow activity.
This month’s case involved a pair of 2500 pound draft horses injured in a rear end trailer wreck.
Unfortunately one of the Percherons was killed; the other severely injured a hind leg.
The settlement, however, demanded that the insurance offer must include the cost of two horses since draft horses are almost always sold in pairs.
I agreed with the claimant and the insurance company paid on my recommendation to pay for the cost of two draft horses.
NAES was asked to provide economic evidence on the value of a young professional’s horse business after she suffered a severe concussion following an auto accident.
I was asked by the court to estimate the dollars involved in the operation of the accident victim’s business. It was very fortunate the trainer had kept complete records.
My advice would be to always make sure you record every item spent in your business operation then store it in your safe, (…also tax deductible).
Because of the economic downturn in an earlier economic troubled time, the distressed selling of horses had become more common.
This month’s case involved such a great family horse that was attempting to be sold. (NAES was involved in securing insurance appraisal estimate). The young son of the family who had owned and trained the animal found out about the proposed sale and “flipped out.”
Not unlike the current movie, “WAR HORSE” the boy made it to the sale yard just before the hammer fell and was able to get his horse back. His family didn’t know of the new paper route he’d gotten just that day to pay the upkeep on “his” horse.
The good news was that he claimed his old horse back and actually owned him for another 18 years.
This month’s case involved a young professional who was confronted with an ethical dilemma early on in his career.
The pro had worked so very hard to establish himself as a very good trainer and one that an amateur horse enthusiast could whole heartedly trust. In this case, one of the pro’s clients wanted to buy a very competitive open jumper…and, in addition said, “Price was no object.”
The pro went to a number of other trainers and examined and rode many horses finally deciding on one. The price of the chosen example was put at $250.000.00. (The actual cost of the horse was $150,000.00 but the selling trainer/agent told our young pro that “They could just split the $100,000.00 since the jumper was easily worth the $250,000.00”).
Our young pro naturally had a bad feeling about the sale but before he did anything further he went to his father, a retired trainer, too.
The trainer’s dad told his son that honesty was the best and only way to keep his client for many more years.
The young pro sat his client down and explained just what had been offered to him and that he could not, in good conscience, “fleece” his customer. The client understood and backed up his trainer by purchasing another great jumper, paying his trainer a substantial 15% commission, too.
This case actually happened to a very well-known horseman who still has the client as a friend and good customer for over thirty years.
Horses can have bad days, just like us humans. Well, in this case a very grumpy ten year old mare chose to take out her grumpyness on a physician who boarded her horse at this beautiful facility in Fort Worth, TX.
The doctor went out into the turn-out pasture to retrieve her horse. That’s all it took for the “Queen of Sheba” mare to become really upset and proceded to give a double barrel kick to the face to the young doctor.
The doctor was helicoptered out and was hospitalized for several weeks. In the meantime, NAES was granted permission by opposing counsel to inspect the facility and evaluate the group of horses including the subject mare.
When I went out to the ranch, the ranch manager ok’d me going out to the pasture. As we went out, the mare approached and after a very few moments lunged at us. Proving that the mare was the specific “grumpy” one sealed the case against the ranch. (NAES had been retained by the doctor). At deposition time, I explained the mare’s deviant behavior and that the injuries were definitely caused by the grumpy mare. The case then settled quickly.
The lesson is quite obvious: keep the grumpy horse away from the rest of your horses or you could be in for a rude awakening at trial.
Southern Arizona is filled with “good old boys” and their girlfriends.
This month’s case involved a tragic end of a young boys’ life because his mom was a “girlfriend” of a “good old boy.”
The couple and the eight year old little boy had ridden to a local bar connected to a large horse arena. After roping all afternoon the couple adjourned to the bar to knock down lots of beer. The mom told her little boy to go back outside and play in the dirt.
As the boy became bored, he started tossing rocks at his mom’s mare. All of a sudden the mare sat back from the hitching post and pulled the posts out of the ground flinging one up into the air and unfortunately landing on the boys’ head killing him instantly.
The bar’s owner luckily had just bought the facility and had a large insurance policy. The case didn’t need to go to trial for the multi million dollar pay-off.
What a sad end caused by a mother who did not pay attention to her son and really didn’t deserve the settlement…..oh well!
The owners of a really nice yearling unfortunately had a neighbor with a very aggressive stallion. The stallion broke their own fence and viciously attacked my client’s horse.
The victim of the stallion’s attack guaranteed he’d never show in the conformation division at the famous Devon Horse Show; he’d won the year before which meant a sizeable selling price which now was very much impossible.
Going to trial resulted in a big verdict for the owner of the damaged horse but at least he lived, albeit with numerous injuries.
The necessity for getting sizeable insurance could have generated a large and easily negotiated settlement without having to file suit.
In other WORDS, don’t be bashful in getting insurance for a great horse even if it requires an appraiser to help in establishing the insurance amount.
What happens when your trusted trainer decides to take over ownership of your horse?
Because you live many miles away you’re unable to check up on your horse. To add to the problem you have no bill of sale for the recently purchased horse since you failed to insist on receiving all the documents because your trainer assured you he would “take care of all the paperwork.”
Adding to the owner’s problems is the fact that the trainer successfully showed the horse under his name, won 1st prize money in a $50,000.00 jumper class and sold the horse for $550,000.00 to a buyer from Brazil. Immediately, the new buyer shipped the horse to Brazil, the trainer married his girlfriend and flew off for a secret honeymoon in Lima, Peru.
The above is slightly inventive, but it shows what could happen should you neglect to demand a bill of sale and all the sale papers. Also make sure you have a signed and binding contract with your trainer. Remember, as an owner, you have a responsibility to protect your investment. I can assure you I’ve had similar cases where a lack of appropriate papers made all the difference. Therefore, the lesson is to secure and protect all your horse related documents and keep a close eye on your horse if possible.
In operating any type of horse event its super important that each and every employee and volunteer understand that safety is job one, (as is emblazoned on most every job site I’ve ever seen). In this case a very large rodeo and exposition had been running for many years and as this was the tenth year, all the stops were pulled out to really show off. For that reason a mounted shooting event was scheduled for the final Sunday performance day.
The special group was made up of well over 100 riders, both young and old and all with various levels of riding and shooting abilities. Now lest you fear the group was shooting real bullets, fear not. The group shot only blanks that would burst a balloon, but harm little else.
The plan for the act was to gallop into the ring and at various balloon placements around the ring, shoot the balloons eventually culminating in a grand charge down the center of the ring to burst the very large water balloon at the end. The group was to exit at the very end of the ring but a volunteer erroneously directed them to exit at the wrong end where all the audience was. Well, to put it mildly, pandemonium broke out resulting with numerous crashes occurring which sent three of the audience and two mounted shooters to the local hospital.
After the dust had settled and the last of the ambulances had carted off the wounded, the show committee of some 50 people was convened. The major problem soon presented itself in that not one main person had been truly in charge of the entire show including the final “grand shooting act.” One good thing was discovered that the insurance committee was headed by the town’s local insurance man with over 40 years of experience who had purchased the proper policy so when the event got sued by at least three people, all was paid…(WHEW…). The lesson; just having lots of help doesn’t always mean organizational success.
A young rider took a tumble during a jumping lesson at a stable in the East. She suffered a broken leg and collar bone; certainly not life-threatening but serious never the less.
The rider’s step father had signed a release although he had not yet received legal guardianship. He thought that signing the release would absolve him and his wife from any legal action plus the stable owner would be protected as well at least that’s what the stable owner hoped.
The accident came back to haunt the stable owner when the young rider’s attorney showed that the signed waiver was worthless since the step father was not the legal guardian at the time of the accident and could not sign away the legal rights of the minor aged rider anyway.
The stable owner’s insurance company had to pay a hefty sum to the former student. The lesson learned is to always have your attorney review your legal standing when there’s a divorce involved so you’re not caught not being a legal guardian at the time of the step-child’s accident.
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