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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 2017
The following is super important so pay attention!

The necessity of counting on a specific term in describing the ability of a person to be a horse appraiser is important. Because we often hear that a person is “certified” does not mean anything more than that person has achieved a certain status within a specific company.

That appraiser is then “certified” within that company and nowhere else. That appraiser is then authorized to create a “certified” appraisal after achieving the necessary “qualifications” in performing a horse appraisal and has been given “certified” status from a specific company, group or association.

Qualification means that the horse appraiser possesses the fundamental abilities coupled with background which would make that person eligible to become certified in performing a horse appraisal. That person in all likelihood could create appraisals “certified” by the specific group or company because they possessed the qualifications necessary to evaluate a specific breed.

That “certification” from the group should apply to the specific horse breed and discipline. As an example, North American Equine Services, NAES, grants “certified” status to horse appraisals which encompass the largest and most complete array of specifics applicable to the subject horse.

Certification comes from the company and the appraiser is “qualified” which is no mean feat owing to the number of important areas covered and, where possible, the largest number of specifics available. In addition, because there is a great deal of subjective evaluation involved, the appraiser needs to have a solid and broad range of practical horse experience as possible.

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February 2017
It’s hopefully clear to the avid readers of this column, about the many cases NAES has handled for many years. Since 2003 I’ve tried to explain some of the factors which would be of interest to stable owners. Of course, the amazing thing is the many cases which are not typical of what one would think is the “typical” horse related case.

The fact is that there really never is the “standard” horse case. However, in times of a changing economy there is always the instance where the horse’s owner cannot afford to pay the board bill.

To possibly help out in what may be items of help to you the stable owner, I’ll list things which have almost always been successful in making your “deadbeat” customer case easier on you and your pocketbook:

Always have a written boarding contract and having the help of your family lawyer can help to.

On the contract, make sure the prospective boarder lists stables where their horse was previously stabled. The new boarder needs to put all possible contact information and the name of their veterinarian plus a clause specifically stating they are responsible for all reimbursement for their horse’s health care.

Some stables ask the new client to sign over ownership of the horse in case of large dollar amounts owing would enable the animal could be signed over to the stable owner. (However, I know lots of horse owners who would never allow the stable owner to have the possibility of owning their horse).

Just a piece of advice that’s sure to help is to always be polite and never raise your voice or get visibly upset. The reason is that the errant boarder always knows you’re upset so they will always be somewhat surprised by your peaceful nature. Plus, since you probably won’t get paid anyway, it may help to at least get something.

I always explain to folks running boarding operations that in all likelihood they won’t get paid and to prevent any legal action from the boarder, (who will now claim their prize horse was injured at your barn), always have your vet come out and perform a health certificate saying the horse is not sick or hurt at all. Such a statement from a licensed vet may go a long way in proving to the horse owner and a court of law that the horse is just fine.

Then, and most important, get the deadbeat boarder to remove the horse. Even if they plead that they’re broke, he name of their veterinarian plus etc, etc. you need to move the horse because the longer the horse is at your place the more likely it is for something bad to happen to the horse….and guess who gets to pay those vet bills.

Make sure all your boarders have mortality insurance on each horse they own. God forbid a horrible accident causes the death of your charges. Naturally, it’s always to get with your insurance broker and get Care, Custody and Control insurance so you’re covered.

Every month or so I’ll try and include more comments regarding things you need to aware of to run your horse business more effectively.

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March 2017
Several years ago I was asked to review a case concerning a young horse show exhibitor who accidentally drove a golf cart into an adult walking across the show grounds. It needs to be stressed that horse show rules restrict the use of any motorized vehicle to licensed drivers only.

Through the years so many spectators and exhibitors have been injured after being struck by young and unlicensed drivers. The problem had been brought up repeatedly at annual AHSA/USEF conventions and finally enough folks complained loudly enough to warrant a significant rule change.

Accidents continue to happen but there has been a marked decline in the number of driving accidents involving under-age drivers.

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April 2017
I was recently asked to provide testimony regarding the abilities of a young but proficient rider. She had been asked to ride the owner’s horse at a year end show. During the show the young rider fell breaking her pelvis and suffering other wounds. While the fall and subsequent injuries were not caused by anything the horse or its owner did, the young rider sued the horse’s owner.

This is exactly why it is so important to have proper insurance covering any of your horse related activities.

At the trial, I was asked to explain the abilities I saw in the young rider. I carefully explained that the young woman was extremely competent and was well qualified to ride the owner’s horse and because the requirements of the class were not large she had been well qualified to perform.

The young woman’s attorney’s tried to explain that the horse’s owner had taken advantage of her inabilities to ride the horse. However, they were not able convince the jury resulting in our client, the horse’s owner winning.

The lesson to be learned is to always maintain insurance since even the cost of trial work is very expensive, so even the win cost my client thousands of dollars.

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May 2017
NAES, my company, was asked to evaluate a case of loose horses who escaped through a gate that was left open. Eight horses got out and four of them were hit and killed by a 23 year old male driver. The driver was alone at three AM going to work. He died instantly.

The tragedy of the accident is so sad since it was entirely preventable. It just took someone who took the half second to close the gate.

I can’t emphasize the importance of all safety issues because of the simple task of closing the gate not being done the driver and four horses were killed. Unfortunately, I’ve been called upon to investigate many accidents where there didn’t have to be any deaths at all except for a minor negligent act.

In short, there are numerous responsibilities involved in owning a horse, and among them is the duty to “confine the animal.” If it’s not done correctly the police department call it “Negligent Confinement.” …..and along with the charge comes a substantial fine. The charge coupled with the financial charge, however, it sure is better than the deaths of animals, car driver and other property that gets in the way of a loose horse.

And that’s not all………………How about the loose stallion who falls in love with your prize show horse mare next door. As you know a breeding arrangement not thoroughly planned and executed can and often does end up with possible injuries to the stallion or mare.

Then imagine the small herd of four horses that gallop across the golf course after the hard rain. When the country club’s manager finds out who owns the horses who caused $63,000.14 in damage….believe me they can and will find out that you own the horses who got loose. You probably have homeowners insurance who will pay for the damage caused by your horses.

Then they will promptly cancel your coverage…leaving you high and dry without protection. So, in other words, make sure all your horse gates are closed, because always there is nothing worse than thundering hoofbeats at two AM.

Oh my gosh, there is something worse and that’s no hoofbeats because all your horses have escaped.

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June 2017
Those of us in the horse business, are often un-thinking about the responsibilities created by our one thousand pound friends. I remark frequently about the very scary sounds created by “thundering hoof beats” at 2:00 AM and the costs often created by our horses as they tear up the adjacent golf greens next door.

Or that pesky gate which you’ve been meaning to repair, when the sheriff’s deputy wakes you up after two of your horses are dead on the road and a young driver coming home is found dead in his Honda Civic, after he ran into one of your dead horses.

Oh my God, life can get bad in a very big hurry. I hope I have your attention now because a series of “what ifs” must follow. Horsemen are generally very conscientious but sometimes, “Can’t I please stop for a moment being so bloody mindful about the minutia in my life…?” The answer, of course, is a definite “NO!”

Now is when the “what ifs” must start so no matter the size and complexity of your horse operation, it will always be the same as you count off what makes and keeps your business a success.

Quite obviously first must be “safety,” since keeping your clients and the horses safe and healthy has to be number 1. Then just go right down the line of important areas and specific items which make your business a success. I’m a firm believer in putting all those goals on the refrigerator door. That way every day your goals are put squarely in front of you.

I can guarantee you that success will be yours if only you keep visual track of your goals; just try it.

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July 2017
Since the early 2000’s there has been a large interest in the cloning of horses. As you may know, cloning involves the capture of cellular tissue and transferring properties from the donor horse to embryos for injection into the uteruses of mares who carry the embryos to term with the goal of producing as much of a copy of the donor horse as possible.

In this case, one of two cloned horses died after being electrocuted by an electrical cord powering a water heater. The plaintiffs in the case provided a damage estimate of close to $200,000.00, which was just plain nuts.

One reason the damage estimate was so high owed to the fact the actual cost of setting up the cost of the cloning procedure was, in fact, right at $200,000.00. But to think that was the actual cost of the clone of the “supposed” superhorse was already worth so much didn’t make any sense at all.

Now get this. If the owner of the clone thinks that right out of the box the new clone will be worth a huge amount doesn’t make sense at all. For one thing, thinking the clone will be identical to the original just won’t happen. While a majority of the horse will be the same some won’t match. The reason: A horse’s environment cannot be expected to be the same as happened to the original and even if by some miracle it is the same there still is the variety of riding abilities and techniques which affect the new horse.

The cloning process involves placing the embryo into the uterus of the carrying mare and environmental conditions can and do vary during the gestation period. These varieties can and do sometimes change how the genes may react, changing the final outcome of the clone.

As a horse appraiser for the past 45 years, figuring out how much the clone is worth is just the same as appraising any other horse. While the parents of the horse are important, the training and level of outside stimulus go a very long way in determining the final outcome of the horse.

I ended up valuing him at $30,000.00. This was based on the normal items I consider when appraising an untried, young horse with correct conformation. The plaintiff finally got the idea and settled for the amount I offered through the insurance company.

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