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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

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January 2016
The beginning of each year gives us all a chance to plan for the horse activities of our horses and farm. It is especially helpful to review the various insurance policies we have not only on our horses, but our businesses as well.

I just finished reviewing the insurance coverages on our horses and business assets as well. My insurance broker has handled my companies and private horses for close to twenty-five years and I trust him to always give the correct advice since he knows everything about what my wife and I do. It is so important to make sure your insurance broker knows every detail about what you do since he can’t suggest insurance unless he has total knowledge of your activities and assets.

Before our annual meeting with my insurance broker, I purposely go through a series of “What if’s.” These made-up-in-my-head thoughts prepare me to ask the appropriate questions with an eye to never being caught without the proper coverage. By the way, when starting our business many years ago I always thought about the specific insurance my wife and I would need. Thankfully, I never had to file a claim but it sure was good to know we had the proper coverage. It was expensive; but NOT having insurance would have been much, much worse.

Please take my advice here: Plan ahead since it is lots cheaper to plan ahead rather than be caught without enough dollars to take care of a loss, (I shiver when I think about that).

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February 2016
Great horses bring us all into some form of the horse business. I know that’s the way it was for me. I was barely out of high school and into college at the time and my experience in horses was very much my own since my family was not wealthy. In the western suburbs of Chicago where I lived, I was offered many horses to exercise for rich folks who didn’t have the time to ride.

I had been riding horses for a wealthy banker in Hammond, Indiana when he offered me the chance to train and race a steeplechase horse, GANYMEDE. The idea of actually “training” any horse, let alone a steeplechase horse was in and of itself rather goofy since the horse was a bit more than half nuts as I soon discovered. However, I was so happy that anyone had picked me to ride anything.

Training consisted of trying to slow the horse down, but since the horse’s owner wanted GANYMEDE to steeplechase, (Run very fast over log jumps and complete a mile and a half course), he really didn’t care; so off we zoomed. The upshot of all my “swell training” was that we won our first and only race. Of course, it was entirely the horse’s doing…not mine.

Yes, both the wealthy banker and yours truly were ecstatic plus he had agreed to pay for my college if we won. Yes…life was very good and I discovered that horses were super and for the next 50 years, horses have been my business.

Fortunately, I actually learned much about horses and how much they give us. Anyway, I’ll pass on more later; I’ve got many more great stories and all of them true, (Well, pretty much true).

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March 2016
It seems that the recreational horse buyer and even the supposedly much “wiser” show horse purchaser would finally be aware of the many scams and frauds which can be perpetrated in getting the “perfect” horse.

I’ve been in the horse business for over 50 years and it seems that at any age, horse buyers can get screwed. People are so eager to buy the horse that they do not use good business sense and overlook the obvious “gotchas.”

Always verify the actual ownership of your prospect, especially if there’s a huge show record involved. And one more thing; always verify there are no penalties that have been assessed which involve the horse. Unfortunately, through the years I’ve seen where unscrupulous agents have misrepresented the ownership and competition record of the horse for sale.

I had a concerned horse owner call me several years ago because her trainer severely penalized her since he was not allowed to sell her horse. The owner was concerned about her trainer’s ethics since he wanted her to simply sign over the ownership of the horse so he could tack on an exorbitant commission. The horse owner had verified previous instances where the trainer had done the identical things.

In the end, the horse owner got out of the barn before she could get into an unethical situation as well.

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April 2016
It seems I keep on repeating warnings about keeping track of the feed given to your livestock. I can’t tell you how many cases I’ve reviewed in the past year where a teeney bit of the cattle supplement Rumensin.

The cattle feed ingredient is fine for cattle but deadly for horses. In fact, most of the livestock manufacturers work hard at keeping cattle and horse feed production separate. If the same equipment is used in both cattle and horse feed there is a good possibility that the Rumensin could cause the death of horses.

Therein lies the reason it’s critical to keep proof of the feed given to your horses and being able to produce the lot numbers. In the past few months I’ve been asked to provide help in determining valuations on a broad variety of horses who had been proven to have ingested small amounts of monensen, an additive for cattle feed but poison to horses.

In fact, it may even be helpful for your horses to inquire about the plant where your horse’s feed was manufactured since that same plant perhaps processes cattle feed as well. If it does try and find a manufacturer who has a completely separate plant for horse feed only. Please feel free to contact me if you have the slightest question – 800-575-1669.

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May 2016
I’ve used the services of a marketing company for the past 25 years. They have turned into great friends as well as being thoroughly capable, professional marketing and graphic designers.

With that length of time, Media People International has learned so much about the many facets of the horse world in which NAES deals. In other words, my account executive and related marketing and designer folks have been exposed to a wide variety of cases.

Almost without exception, it is rare when there is a duplicate example of a previous case. Horses and kids along with riders involved in various horse sports are able to generate many instances where NAES can add expertise. The variety of cases often help others who may have a similar experience and appreciate the experience of others.

Unfortunately, we’ve been receiving numerous cases involving toxic feed causing death from a cattle additive called Monensen. It’s a supplement that while great in cattle feed, even the smallest amount in feed eaten by horses will cause severe damage to the heart muscle or death.

Ranch-Way Feeds, a large producer of feeds in the Colorado and South Western part of the nation stresses that there is a definite separation between feed manufactured for cattle and horses. This total separation of the equipment goes a long way in protecting horses from the catastrophic consequences of ingesting even the smallest amount of Monensen. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your bagged horse feed has not been manufactured at a plant which also makes cattle feed.

As always, it’s the horse owner’s job to verify the feed being consumed by your horses. Please feel free to contact me if you have the slightest question – 800-575-1669.

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June 2016
In the course of my business of evaluating horses and horse activities, my focus is always on the amateur rider and the activities they pursue.

I often hear stories following very sad situations caused by poorly trained wranglers or stable owners. This story, from North Carolina, has to be one of the saddest, especially since it occurred just last year, (2015), and could have been won with proper plaintiff’s trial work.

Anyway, the tale of woe happened last March of 2015 and involved a supposed “Beginner walking trail ride” with the father and his two daughters, aged 13 and 15 years of age. The ride had gone just 30 minutes or so when, because of a very uneven trail, the father’s horse slipped causing the dad’s hard fall onto his back; fortunately he did not break any bones. The father remounted and though he felt severe pain in his lower back, was unwisely talked into continuing the ride by the wrangler.

As the ride went on, the father’s back area was in severe pain but even the wrangler’s boss encouraged the group to go on; after the second hour into the ride, the father slumped in his saddle, falling to the ground dead. His spleen had ruptured causing him to bleed to death internally.

At trial, the wrangler testified his boss, on the cell phone, actually said to the wrangler that the ride must go on since the stable needed the money.

To shorten the story, the stable actually won the case on their motion for summary judgement since no witnesses came forward to show how stupid the stable was in encouraging the continuing of the ride. The lessons are obvious. Listen to your body and brain.

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July 2016
The definition of the word “ethics” is very important regarding good or bad methods in conducting business behavior.

Unfortunately, people never think of the horse business as being filled folks with high moral values or “ethics.” That is, people do not hold the average horse trainer or professional up as a folks with high ethical values in the buying and selling of horses.

When I started North American Equine Services over 30 years ago, I wanted my ethical behavior to be beyond reproach. That is, I wanted people to base their conception of horse people as honest and forthright individuals. I understood that I was having a “Don Quixote” approach towards my goal. That is my goals of turning the horse community into a revered part of business was unrealistic.

As my business developed, I did my best to conduct my appraisals and legal opinions as honestly and in the most businesslike manner possible. At the same time, I found that there was a real push in the day to day buying and selling of horses in many disciplines to bring them into the modern times. Admittedly, it became easier to get statistics on horses, owners and competition results.

Various horse associations such as the USHJA, the United States Hunter and Jumper Association, have tried for years to establish basic sales agreements along with other documents which protect the horse purchaser from fraudulent schemes.

Proposals have been continually brought up which would create standardized bills of sale and other written agreements thereby providing standardized legal contracts. However, they have never gone over as well as hoped for.

Probably, since there are so many legal jurisdictions, it’s always the smartest way to have your attorney draw up the necessary paperwork which may end up specifically protecting your rights in your own state and community.

The latest idea is the use of electronic chips which are very much like those used on dogs, pigs, cattle and other valuable animals, who may be used in competitive showing. I’ll present more on additional ways to protect your investment and special animal friend.

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August 2016
When in the market for a new horse, it’s so important to verify the history of the prospective horse. Even though you may be purchasing the horse from a very upscale barn it is not enough to be swayed by how splendid the facilities are but to make sure the seller is not fooling you.

Always check the horse’s show record. What the horse has done in the past can go a long way in determining the horse’s present price.

If the prospective horse is for your child, who may be a novice, then it is all more important to have a professional on your side. Paying an expert to aid in your decision is well worth the cost.

Hopefully, the professional aiding in your horse search, has had a chance to see and coach your child before you both go out to find the appropriate animal. By the way, if your “helper” is your child’s normal instructor, go ahead and offer to pay for their time in assisting your search. Even if they turn down payment from you, you must insist they accept your payment.

I would also have an attorney draw up an agreement between your helper and yourself. The contract should assure them a payment of at least 10% for their help in making sure the proper horse is purchased.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon that your child’s instructor may have already set up a scam wherein he or she will get a piece “of the action.” That’s why a written and signed contract will go a long way in keeping your helper/trainer honest.

I recall several years ago where purchasing a winning show pony required a fee was to be paid to one of the top pony sellers in the country. The fee was usually in excess of $15,000 to $20,000…which was to be paid first. All in all, it sure sounded like a fraudulent scheme to me. Obviously, you have to make a decision if your ethics can stand the obvious problem between a possibly great horse and if a ridiculously high “finder’s fee” should be paid. Always remember that the good LORD produces many fine ponies and horses.

I cannot stress why it’s so important to have help on your side and when in doubt, please call me, (800-575-1669). I would be more than happy to help you with some FREE advice. I’ve been in the horse business for over 50 years and I’ve seen it all. Good luck my friends!

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September 2016
The cloning of animals certainly testifies to the rapid advance in science’s ability to create a carbon copy of an animal. Currently, I’m working on an appraisal of a very successful show jumper located in the state of Oregon.

Everything about the subject horse is exactly identical to the horse the owners wished duplicated. Unfortunately, the clone happened upon an extension cord being used to power some fans to cool the horses on a hot summer’s day. The cloned horse died almost immediately so the fact he was a clone didn’t bestow super resistance to electrocution. Doing the appraisal necessitates taking into account previous performances which could possibly relate to the to the current clone’s own horse show results.

It’s not been all that long that science created the first clones; (Remember “Dolly” the sheep?”), so it sure seemed logical that the horse world would explore the way to duplicate the long since diseased equine stars of years gone by.

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October 2016
The reason humans and especially horsemen are well thought of is their high level of responsible and generally intelligent behavior. (I know a bunch of you are asking “Has Dave gone nuts”?)

Unfortunately, four such pillars of the intelligencia tried target practice on the farm of the older brother of one of the culprits. They then managed to wound two horses and put several holes into the barn before somebody complained; fortunately, no people were hit.

It’s hard to imagine that in a state as large as Wyoming, where this accident happened, something like this could happen. One of the reasons this particular farm was chosen was the giant size of the land including several berms which could offer excellent backstops, and the fact that the farm had sat vacant for over 10 years (I know they were thinking….”What could possibly go wrong?”).

These guys were so lucky they weren’t in jail but they were only charged with minor disorderly conduct charges. They had to retain very high-dollar defense attorneys who worked their butts off trying to convince the court that their clients were.

Unfortunately, our client’s failure to verify just where the bullets would end up was ultimately the cause of injury to the horses stabled next door were struck in their sides. One of the horses died several weeks later.

It just amazes me how dim people can be. Wouldn’t one think that bullets can and do travel well over a mile? The case cost the insurance companies well over $1,000,000.00 because there were four defendants and responsibility had to be adjusted accordingly to which defendant was specifically responsibility; in short it was a logistical nightmare.

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November 2016
Horse folks are always interested in sports but are often surprised to hear that horseracing is always rated as one of the most dangerous sports.

Several years ago, I was asked to see if there were any items which could have added to the accident involving a 29 year old female jockey. In reviewing video tapes of the accident it was obvious the jockey had been run into by another horse from the opposite direction.

However, for the longest time, the only videos I could review were of the accident itself wherein the jockey was tossed about 5 additional feet into the air before landing on the ground. She was injured severely and is regaining use of some of the damaged muscles.

I finally received additional videos which showed how the accident started. The injured jockey was struck by a horse who had gotten loose at the very beginning of the race and started running against the traffic of the remainder of the field. It turned out that the track had trimmed personnel which would have been able to catch the loose horse.

The lesson was simply to hear what the assistant starters had said all along. Their advice was to NOT cut the number of starters which were so important in keeping the track conditions controlled and safe.

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December 2016
Sales and leasing agreements are critical in horse sales and because the actual document you and your lawyer draw up can and must take into account even the smallest item.

What this means is that you especially since you wish to purchase a specific animal, must list, or at least think about the minutia and trivia relating to the deal. Always remember: If it’s not specifically listed or referred to, it will be tough to make a claim after your money and the seller’s bill of sale have changed hands.

Here’s a list of possible items to refer to in your sales or leasing agreement:

If you are the buyer:
1. Spell out the specific things the seller must provide before you’ll take possession of the horse.

A. If applicable, specify the exact name of the veterinarian to perform the pre-purchase physical exam.

B. If applicable, the horse’s show record must be verified and agreed upon by all parties. If you retain the services of a qualified equine appraiser, this person can aid in making sure the list is correct.

C. The appraiser or your attorney can make sure that no penalties have been assessed by any relative breed or associations.

D. A verified list of vaccinations and date of administration. The examining veterinarian can verify this list as well.

E. You can even specify which horse hauler you wish to ship your horse. As a purchaser, I think you can see the myriad of things you may wish to take into account when buying your next horse.

2. If you’re the seller:
A. You can specify your horse not be removed from your place until all monies have been received. (I recommend that a wire transfer be used wherever possible just to make sure there is some recording of the sale and monies exchanged).

B. As the seller you can demand the horse not be removed from your farm. I know that it is common to let the sale horse be sent to the prospective buyer’s facility but I always prefer to have my horse remain at my farm since the old saying “out of sight, out of mind” has been a problem if the horse is injured while being tried. However, if you do agree to let the buyer try your horse away from you, then a very specific agreement must be signed stating the specifics you demand.

C. If your horse is removed by the prospective buyer to try at their place, make sure the buyer purchases insurance for mortality, loss of use and major medical in a specified amount. Always verify the insurance has been bought by actually seeing the insurance of items agreement and a receipt for the cost.

Again, as in the case of the buyer, you can see the huge number of items you may wish to include in your various agreements. Anyway, I wish you good luck in buying and selling your horse.

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