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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 2021
NAES Top 10 - #2,
From August, 2010


Many years ago I was asked to review the circumstances surrounding the rather mysterious death of a Quarter Horse at an Oklahoma show facility. The owners had put in a claim under their mortality insurance for $50,000.00, the face amount of the policy.

I hired a separate independent veterinarian who performed a necropsy on the animal, much to the alarm of the owners, I might add. In fact, I had to retain the services of the insurance company’s attorney and the local sheriffs department to prevent the owner’s own veterinarian from interfering with the procedure.

Upon examining the details of the case, the IVE, (Independent Veterinary Examination), determined that the horse had died of a severe anemic condition; the horse was dehydrated with very little blood in his system.

The insurance company’s veterinarian discovered that the horse had lost several quarts of blood; the owner and their own vet could provide no reasons for the animal’s condition. This information was turned over to the insurance claims adjuster with the report’s findings suggesting possible fraud.

The insurance company then required the claimant to sue for recovery of any part of the $50,000.00 since there was little evidence as to how the blood was removed and by whom; the claim was eventually paid but at a much reduced rate.

The news of the “jugging” of a very good show horse spread widely and the exhibitors were barred from further showing under “for cause” provisions of many horse show contracts.

Unfortunately, the draining of blood in a competitive western pleasure show horse was often used by unscrupulous exhibitors in an effort to quiet the horse in the show ring.

Situations such as the above are extremely rare now since much more aggressive examination techniques are used by all the horse show associations. In addition, most exhibitors would never do anything as horrible to horses that give us so very much and ask for nothing in return.

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February 2021
NAES Top 10 - #2,
From December, 2010


The Case of the Month for December, 2010 revolved around a student who fell during a lesson at a stable in Washington.

The horse had stumbled and the off balance rider simply fell to the ground uninjured. A year later, the student and parents sued the stable and instructor claiming a laundry list of supposedly bad instruction techniques and crummy horse problems, etc, all of which contributed to the supposed injuries.

While eventually the stable and instructor were cleared of any negligent action the costs of defending were huge.

The case points out how important it is to treat each seemingly minor accident as a potentially big deal. Always make sure the instructor and any witnesses describe in detail every single thing that happened. The student and parent in attendance during the accident need to also write and sign a statement recording exactly what happened, too.

Always make sure all the witnesses sign their statements. Months later the accident reports, complete with signatures, may save you from the time and expenses of defending against a ridiculous legal action. It’s amazing what can change in the recollections of the student and parents months after the occurrence.

NAES was retained to examine the factors surrounding the case. As you may guess there was nothing wrong with anything the stable or the instructor did in instructing the intermediate rider.

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March 2021
NAES Top 10 - #1,
From February, 2007


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.

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April 2021
NAES Favorites


From September 2014 used for April 2021

Although uncommon, toxic feed cases bring out the detective in all of us as we try and imagine what a CSI unit would discover had they been entrusted to find out why our prized show horse died.

Toxic feed certainly is not a part of a horse's diet, but when there are unexpected equine deaths I begin looking for items that can be the culprit. However, by the time I get to the case, the horse owner has already found the cause of death.

Having been asked to provide value estimates of deceased horses and those who have not succumbed, I have a pretty good idea where to look for the cause. A common cause of death is often no more than moldy bag of feed. My suggestion is to just jot down and keep track of all the different production lots (numbers) for bagged feed.

Next on my toxic feed list, would be where the horse usually grazed. I'm always concerned about just where and at what elevation the baled hay was from. The reason is the blister beetle, or Hycleus lugens.

This brightly patterned little creature and its over 7500 species, excrete a defensive poison called cantharadin, which causes blistering of a horse's soft tissue such as their esophagus. During the baling of alfalfa the beetles are often crushed as the baler goes by. The cantharadin is still potent even after the beetle is dead, even for months.

By the way, blister beetle poisoning is not all that common. I think hay growers are being much more vigilant too.

Anyway, I hope I've put some ideas out there that will get you to think about where your horse's feed has come from.

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May 2021
NAES Favorites


From December 2006 used for May 2021

Case of the Month involved the questionable training of the client’s horse. The trainers had taken the horse on the road to show, all while knowing the horse had serious lameness issues.

It was apparent to the client that the only reason in bringing the horse along was to help defray the costs of showing incurred by the trainers.

When the client complained, the trainers said that “it was important for the horse to learn what it was like on the road.”

The lesson to be learned is that even if you are not that wise about the horse business make sure your trainers completely explain the reasoning behind their decisions. After all, it’s your money.

In this case, the client finally verified the proper treatment after speaking to the horse’s veterinarian; taking the horse “on the road” was not one of the vet’s recommendations.

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