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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


January 2023
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Blog - Case of the Month from April 2019

Several years ago, I was asked to review an accident case involving a young 13 year old girl injured in an accident while she was being instructed during a riding lesson.

I was giving all the details plus my client had videos of the entire lesson which turned out to be quite helpful. The young girl was very much a beginner and as such, the instructor really was responsible for her safety. In this case, depending on an unprepared instructor was not good.

As I reviewed the video, it became apparent the instructor was very much a beginner herself and was much more concerned with her boyfriend standing outside the arena, rather than the student in the ring. The first thing I noticed, was that the student was not wearing any protective headgear which should have been the first item the youngster put on her head.

Throughout the 50 years I’ve spent teaching children and adults to ride, the protective helmet is the paramount item for safety. I had been chairman of the American Horse Shows Show Standard Committee for over 15 years and had several manufacturers who finally had made helmets for the horse men and women.

Having been made aware of the many head injuries which have been the predominant causes of injuries in the horse world, it took so many years to get the riding public to accept the responsibility of using protective helmets. All this boils down to the parent’s important responsibility to protect their kids. Just because a parent is not a whiz bang expert in horsemanship does not mean common sense gets tossed out the window.

It’s so important that you, as a parent, must at least get somewhat of an idea what your child needs to learn and what the instructor should probably teach. Then if the instructor seems not to be teaching your child what you thought they should, you’ll have a basic idea. At that point, you should express any concerns you have, and if the instructor doesn’t make you feel any better…. then get your child to someone else, because you only have that one child and you must protect them.

If I can help in any other way, please feel free to call me at 623-582-8635 any time, and I’ll give you lots of FREE advice based on my teaching of thousands of children and adults for many years.


February 2023
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Blog - Case of the Month from March 2013

RICO Statute - Fair Market Values

“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men……the Shadow does.” (then the listener hears the deep, all- knowing laugh from the old tube radio)?

In this case, the State of Arizona’s Maricopa County Attorney sure knows evil when his investigators found that horses were owned by the subject drug dealer. The drug dealer’s evil activities had enabled his brother and him to amass a large fortune in cash plus 16 race horses.

NAES was asked to develop Fair Market Values on each horse. Based on each horse’s race record, soundness and conformation, valuations were prepared and supplied to the County Attorney’s office.

Because the criminals were accused of numerous racketeering drug charges, the County Attorney’s office chose to handle the case under the “RICO Statute,” (Organized Crime Control Act of 1970).

Under the RICO statute, racketeering is legal terminology for the “act or threat of murder, kidnapping, gambling, arson, robbery, bribery, extortion, dealing in obscene matter, or dealing in a controlled substance or listed chemical,” as in this case.

Under the infamous Rico Statutes, criminals arrested were required to divest themselves of property and in this case, the race horses. The drug dealers were convicted and because of the NAES’ race horse appraisals the drug dealers forfeited more than $1,000,000.00.


March 2023
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Blog - Case of the Month from February 2017

Boarding & Running Boarding Operations

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.


April 2023
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Blog - Case of the Month from June 2019

Veterinarian Euthanizing the WRONG Stallion

The following has happened more than once and I have been asked to either defend the veterinarian or aid the stallion’s owner.

The problem: Euthanizing the WRONG stallion, or gelding the wrong stallion. Now I know you’re asking yourself…. How could that happen?!

Most veterinary state policies, plus the normal veterinarian’s own practice standards MUST demand the stallion’s owner be present or a qualified agent with a notarized authorization letter in hand any time either of these procedures are to be performed.

The common problems seems to always be that the situation or the parties get flummoxed by being rushed to “Just get the damn procedure done,” thereby failing to follow up and verify the procedures that are actually being done to the subject stallion.

That’s the very time the vet decides to go ahead without the necessary people present or the “agent” is late for the appointment. Now a word to the wise, never show up late for any veterinary appointment, (Or for any other horse related appointment).

I can tell you from lots of sad experiences that if the owner’s stallion gets castrated erroneously, the money damages sent on to the insurance company will be huge. And that’s where the insurance company hires me to come in and perform the Qualified Appraisal. And the same holds true if another horse is put down rather than the correct horse.

Through the years, I have appraised over 50 separate breeds and over 30 separate disciplines. Of course, our LORD has made horses pretty much the same way, with specific items which aid in separating the various breeds. If the breed to be appraised is one which I have done recently, I do spend time in refreshing my memory. But I can assure you the person who owned the horse which was inadvertently gelded or euthanized will submit a bill substantially more than the horse was worth, (No surprise there).

Often, the stallion is being gelded owing to the not uncommon problem of just unruliness where someone such as the owner or groom might get hurt or killed. Of course, in a big-time winning racehorse, it doesn’t matter how bad they act, just so long as they go very fast on the track. So obviously, everyone must be on guard for “killing” the wrong animal or gelding the wrong stallion.

In fact, I’ve seen stallions handled by a groom(s) on either side of the horse using stallion poles, about 8 or 10 feet long. These “stud poles,” are attached to either side of the stallion’s bridle or halter. In cases where the stable owner has a history of having unruly or unbroken horses, the vets must be very careful to not perform any large medical procedure unless the horse’s owner is present.

Mistaken identity is the number one cause of serious medical errors, so the person legally qualified to demand such important procedures must be around to verify the identity of the subject animal.

In other words, one must always assume that any medical procedure could be performed either on the wrong horse or on the wrong part of the horse’s body. So the answer is so very simple. The responsibility of the horse owner is huge, especially if the horse’s owner is new to the equine community. In short, nothing should be left for the veterinarian to figure out on their own.


May 2023
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Blog - Case of the Month from April 2013

Dude Ranch

A vacation family’s trail ride turned bad when one of the young children fell and was severely injured. The family had no idea that each rider should have worn an approved riding helmet. No protective headgear was offered by the dude ranch.

The wrangler who was in charge of the riders was very young, inexperienced and failed to check the tack and equipment. A loose and broken girth caused the child to fall. The lack of a helmet enabled the severe head injuries ultimately resulting in the little girl’s death.

The dude ranch’s two million dollar insurance barely paid the doctor and hospital bills and resulted in the dude ranch’s having to sell everything they owned since the jury came back with an eight million dollar verdict. The dude ranch eventually was forced into bankruptcy.

The lesson for a budding stable owner is to make sure that everything possible is done as far as safety policies, equipment, horses, safety training for guests and supervisory experience. And, stable owners should be aware of their States Equine Liability Statute.

These types of accidents and lack of safety issues could be avoided by education and industry practices.


June 2023
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Blog - Case of the Month from August 2019

Ownership Contracts

As many of you are aware, I’ve been involved in the myriad of horse cases where one of the parties to the case either misunderstood one or more of the factors concerning the case, or simply had lied.

Now I can assure you that hundreds of thousands of horse transactions get settled correctly for the agreed upon amount, and no cheating was involved whatsoever.

However, if the horse sale gets messed up, you can be assured that the basic problem is that somewhere along the line communications got confused, or one of the parties was pulling a fast one, i.e., the wrong amounts of dollars were written, or the listing of proper documents weren’t put down, etc.

For these examples is why either one or both of the parties must insist on a Purchase Contract to be completed by a licensed attorney in your state. Having another wise pair of eyes reviewing the sales agreement is the very best way of making sure that at least the appropriate state laws are considered.

What this all amounts to is you must protect not only your family but the horses you own and all other horses you may currently own or anticipate owning. Unfortunately the number of unethical horse transactions or outright fraudulent sales has always been a problem in the horse community.

That’s why paying for a neutral third party to draw up the contracts is so important; this person most often is an attorney.

One important factor has come up, making sure your hunter or jumper horse has had a micro-chip put underneath the horse’s skin. It has been a very important factor in ownership of your show horse in these two jumping divisions.

The United States Equestrian Association and the United States Hunter Jumper Association began implementation of a new policy around 2019, of requiring the subcutaneous installation of a transponder for each hunter/jumper horse participating in a recognized USHJA/USEF horse show.

The benefits of micro-chipping have been utilized in dog ownership for years and should be an obvious benefit in establishing ownership of your show horse as well. Because the USEF is the national governing body of equestrian sports, there is a movement to include other disciplines in the micro-chipping and plans are being considered. The specific rule requirements are shown under Rule HU 104.


July 2023
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Blog - Case of the Month from September 2005

Haul Your Prize Show Horse

Placing trust in someone you don’t know to haul your prize show horse can sometimes be very bad…as in this case.

Our client had taken the offer of an inexpensive ride for his dressage show horse back to Chicago from Florida. The inexpensive charge for the trip soon materialized into big vet bills, when the horse owner discovered substantial nerve damage to the horse’s jaw…i.e., permanently droopy lip.

The driver says nothing happened but can’t explain the substantial trailer damage to the left side of the rig.

The owner’s major medical insurance lapsed while he was gone necessitating paying large vet bills only to find out there wasn’t much that could be done.

Two lessons learned: 1). Checkout who’s hauling your horse. 2). Make sure your insurance is all paid up.


August 2023
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Blog - Case of the Month from December 2019

A Change in Our Communication

Each month and beginning in 2003, I started an explanation of one “Case of the Month.” I felt very qualified to relate the facts surrounding one of over 1000 separate horse-related cases I’ve been involved with.

At the beginning, I thought the cases would eventually sort themselves out into perhaps 4 or 5 types of legal cases……. How possibly could there be more? And I was correct for the most part in that there were certain types of cases which would repeat themselves often.

The case involving the slightly overweight rider who’s saddle slipped causing the rider to fall, thereby injuring themselves; I had many of those. And the cases where the impoverished horse owner had not paid the overdue board bill for months, those were always good for lots of yelling back and forth, which never did even the smallest bit of good. However, the single most common cause of horse folks not getting along at all is simply the lack of COMMUNICATION. That’s it in a nutshell…… people don’t speak to each other.

Now think about it: Do you speak to the people who train your horse? Or put shoes on them, or take care of the horse’s health?....... most likely, you and the individuals most important in maintaining your show horse’s health and abilities, plus yours, have not spoken to you with deep down facts and ideas and haven’t heard from you in months.

I could go on and on about this topic, but maybe you’re catching on that we all must talk to each other much more often.

Several months ago, I spoke with a very good friend who is a genius in marketing explained to me why folks don’t speak back and forth more. She explained to me that with the advent of Facebook, TWITTER other social medias, and message texts - people don’t feel the necessity to actually exchange words.

Most of you who know me, realize I talk lots because I grew up in the days of “The Debate Team,” etc. which encouraged the clear and concise methods of speaking. It also helped that through the years, I have taught many thousands of riding lessons.

Unfortunately, it seems those days are gone, but most assuredly, not forgotten. Everyone out there must force themselves to avoid texting and pick up the telephone and speak to those you must get through to. If we all try to change our communication ways, I truly believe many good things will come about.


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