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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 2022
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Blog - Case of the Month 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 2022
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Blog - Case of the Month from November 2007

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.

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March 2022
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Blog - Case of the Month from November 2013

The importance of verifying the quality and quantity of horse medicines is very important as in this month’s case involving use of a horse wormer on an older horse never wormed before.

The client had been carrying on a regimen of giving worming medicine to an old horse that had not been wormed in many years. Unfortunately, the dosages for an older non-wormed animal (horse) may cause an impaction and can lead to death.

Unfortunately, the horse’s owner, a complete novice in equine matters, did not seek veterinary help until the old horse was in the end stages of dying. He sued the drug’s manufacturer anyway claiming the instructions were not specific enough on cases where a previously un-wormed horse received the de-wormer.

Not wishing to suffer the trashing from the media, the insurance company paid out a small settlement.

Again the idea of common sense is operative in this situation and most horse owners are much more observant than the horse owner above. This lesson is so clear. Horses need an owner/caretaker who has at least minimum abilities to care for a horse. Horses do not take care of themselves; God has assigned that job to us.

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April 2022
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Blog - Case of the Month from November 2014

As I frequently say to my staff of super ladies, “Get a load of this…”

My client attorney had presented me with a case involving an absolute beginner….as in “had never even been within a hundred feet of a horse” …a beginner.

Anyway, she takes her family to a local riding stable in town. She really made sure the wranglers all knew that she and her family were ALL BEGINNERS.

The novice wrangler assigned her a horse who had a hard time even standing still to allow the wrangler to put the saddle and bridle on. That was a tip off that this whole project was not going to end well.

The lady was helped onto the horse who promptly took off at a run and aimed for the stable wall, with the obvious plan of scraping her off on the wall. The woman didn’t make it that far since when she pulled on the reins to stop the mad dash…the reins broke! She now had a runaway horse without any reins giving her no way to even try to stop the horse.

Needless to say the law suit didn’t even make it to trial after the insurance claims adjuster verified the broken reins as well as the horrible condition of the other tack.

I’ve been in this business for over 40 years and I haven’t seen a rein-breakage case ever. Please send me an email and let me know if you’ve ever had a similar problem.

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May 2022
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Blog - Case of the Month from December 2015

As you might imagine, after 30 some years examining and often testifying at trials or writing opinions regarding horse sales and related activities, I have formed thoughts on ethics relating to such sales.

I have seen so many ways that crooks have managed to swindle and otherwise cheat the unsuspecting horse buyer. It’s just not right that folks trying to buy a good horse for their child, as an example, get cheated by an unethical horse dealer or seller.

One answer, and one that must be stressed more often, is that the actual owner of the horse in question, must stress that the person selling the horse, must do it in an entirely honest way. Remembering that it “takes two to tango,” as the saying goes, the seller bears responsibility in making sure that the sale goes through as it should. The actual horse’s owner bears a large amount of responsibility in making sure that there is no dishonest behavior in the sale.

I would suggest that a contract be drawn up that would guarantee that the sale is done in an ethical and honest way, and if there is something in the sale that is not honest, the actual seller or broker for the sale will be penalized. So it’s just not enough that you, the horse’s owner perhaps pays a sale commission, but that the sale is done in an absolutely above board manner.

If you have questions concerning the proper method of selling, (or buying), a horse, please feel free to call me at 623-582-8635 and I would be happy to review your upcoming deal with any eye to honest dealings, and at no charge too.

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June 2022
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Blog - Case of the Month from March 201
4

This month’s case involved a dentist who hoped to set up a retirement account for him and his wife. He ran an Arabian breeding farm which specialized in training and showing his horses.

He followed the advice of IRS Section 183 regarding the items he needed follow in order to avoid the tax audit.

Unfortunately, the agent assigned to his case was new and didn’t understand that the dentist had in fact been meticulous in keeping immaculate records and was actually doing all that was required.

The case went to trial and the IRS wanted to settle all the way up the court house steps since they eventually discovered they should never have gone after the dentist in the first place. He wisely retained the very best tax firm who in turn hired my services. The law firm and NAES presented an open and shut case which proved the dentist ran his business in an honest and flawless way. Finally the judge’s decision came down showing the dentist prevailing in all areas.

The lesson points out how important retaining the right help and advice can be, especially since the case ended well with the taxpayer dentist winning and not owing anything at all.

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July 2022
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Blog - Case of the Month from August 2018

As you may know, although I do not specifically practice law, I am asked to review many horse related legal contracts every year. Obviously, I always counsel potential clients to also have your attorney review such documents again.

This is so important to have as many experts and lawyers review any horse related contracts. Even if you are very sure you’ve included all the important contractual points, it’s always so important to have additional wise eyes look at what could bind you for many months or years.

In law schools one of the first courses taught is contract law. Legal contracts are the items which hold our country together and the fact that basic contract law is taught the first year of law school, indicates just how important contracts are.

So obviously, a word to the wise (you) should be enough to convince you of making sure that contracts must be a very important part of your horse-related business.

Contracts are important not just for horse sales and leases but in purchasing items specifically for your horse business as well. Now obviously you and your staff must do a “what if” session where you all think of anything at all relating to your business. Because liability issues are always at the forefront, you must think of ways where a legal action could be taken against you and your business. So it’s not just lessons you and your staff teach but exactly where you are perhaps a bit weak in mandating that “Safety is Job One.”

You’ll need to remember that signs are also very important and go a long way in emphasizing your interest in protecting all those who are on your property, especially if you instruct many people of all ages. Then you must always insist that protective helmets be worn that comply with ASTM-F11-63. And that does not mean you have to supply the proper ones.

One of your signs must say “HELMETS MUST ALWAYS BE WORN WHEN ON ANY HORSE – NO EXCEPTIONS.” Folks who come to ride at your place have to supply their own properly fitted and ASTM compliant headgear. I realize that seems very arbitrary, but ALL your riders must comply because you’re looking out for their protection.

Always make sure your company or personal attorney reviews all contracts you before you even think of signing. And just because your attorney may not be a horse whiz, he or she sure knows more about the laws in your state than you. Now is not the time to be a cheapskate, because your attorney’s time is well worth your protection and peace of mind since any deficiencies in the proposed contract must be pointed out prior to you picking up a signature pen.

Good luck, my friends. We live in a very litigious world.

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August 2022
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Blog - Case of the Month from April 2014

In this month’s case the trainer of a race horse mare died at the hands of the local race track veterinarian. The story may sound familiar but all too often trainers forget their duty first and foremost is to protect and care for GOD’s creature, the horse.

This case involved a racehorse whose trainer only allowed the vet to run her sampled blood/oxygen level if it was above a certain level. (This is not an uncommon training method). If the blood work came back too low, the trainer wouldn’t let the filly run.

In this specific case the blood/oxygen level did come back too low but the vet, for a gambling reason, told the trainer the filly was just fine, knowing full well about the diminished oxygen level. Unfortunately, the horse ran awful and in fact broke down during the last long stretch of the race and had to be put down.

The vet tried to hide the blood/oxygen test results but the trainer’s wife worked as a receptionist for the company that tested blood samples. Naturally, she got hold of the blood/oxygen sample report and let her husband/trainer know. To say the trainer was upset certainly was an understatement. Fortunately, he simmered down and wisely let his lawyer do the rest which included suing and collecting from the veterinarian. The vet also had his license suspended for a year.

The lesson to be learned is that as the trainer of your client’s horses, you alone bear the responsibility for the care, health maintenance and control of each horse under your supervision. Always verify everything that your vet, farrier, truck and trailer mechanic or any other professional does regarding your business. Always remember it truly is YOUR business.

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September 2022
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Blog - Case of the Month from September 2007

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.

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October 2022
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Blog - Case of the Month from July 2009

Case of the Month looked at an accident to a spectator at a rodeo event. She was run over by an exiting (equine) drill team during an intermission.

Every horse event must take into account non-horse folks who just want to enjoy a fun afternoon. It’s so important that the event organizers be aware of protecting the spectators.

I’ve been called on to evaluate many types of horse events as they relate to spectators. The necessity of taking care of the people who actually pay to see the event is so important, on number of levels.

In this case the insurance company had to pay a huge amount money, because the rodeo organizers didn’t have even the faintest ideas about safety for the public.

Those of us in the horse world must never take for granted that non-horse people know what to do around horse events; in other WORDS always make sure your horse show event or related activity have a plan for the “what ifs” related to safety for “civilians".

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November 2022
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Blog - Case of the Month from July 2010

Case of the Month embroiled a young 18 year old woman injured on the job and a riding stable, which had never claimed her as an employee.

When she was hurt in a tractor accident the stable claimed no responsibility at all.

She always thought she was an employee since she was paid every week in cash, plus she liked the fact that she didn’t have to pay those pesky taxes; (One of the many reasons the IRS absolutely dislikes cash).

When the stabled refused to pay for the injuries, she sued claiming a workers compensation-related injury.

The case went to court and the jury found in favor for the young woman, awarding $250,000.00. The stable’s insurer paid the amount then promptly cancelled the owner’s policy.

That was not all since the state workers compensation committee fined the stable thousands of dollars. By the way, the young woman had to pay a considerable amount of money for her delinquent workers compensation insurance and fines.

Lessons learned can be expensive as in this case. Running a business that can cause accidents necessitates carrying insurance that is expensive but creates peace of mind.



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