I am dealing with a nightmare right now, that I think can benefit your blog readers on the training blog by opening their eyes to what can happen in this type of situation. I will say it might get very ugly.
I quit my job officially June 16th, but in doing so gave over three weeks notice. I was working for the ranch trainer as his assistant, as well as the acting assistant manager of the boarding side of the business, and was doing very well in both those roles. The BO/boss was the woman that I got my horse from. I started a free lease on her early last year, and in October, she gave me the horse outright, with a signed bill of sale/transfer of ownership from her name to mine.
Almost immediately after I gave my notice that I would be leaving the job, things got shakey between us, due to several misunderstandings about what I was still responsible for around the barn. She would assume I knew I was responsible for task A, but would never actually tell me, and I would do tasks B and C instead, leaving task A undone. She'd get mad, we'd get it straightened out, then a few days later it would repeat. The other thing that was happening was that I would go to do Tasks A, B, C and find they were already done. She hired a girl to clean the stalls, which I was supposed to do still till today, behind my back, and didn't tell me she was doing it. So after my Monday off, Tuesday am I showed up to clean the stalls (I was no longer on a set time schedule at that point) and found someone else she was paying...already doing it. This happened with several other tasks as well, until finally I was just feeding the horses at night and nothing else.
During this time there were discussions between us about moving my horse out. I told her two weeks ago *mid-July* that I had found a place to move her, and would be moving her out. I had been receiving board in exchange for part of my pay. $350 a month, for the last 14 months. As I am not on a contract basis with her for board, save the verbal arrangements that had been broken time and time again, I was under no obligation to give her a full 30 day notice. I was unable to move her until the 31st into the new place, so in the meantime I paid in full (cash) for Augusts board, and since board there was just the stall, (self service), I bought hay, pellets, and sawdust bags amongst other things. I emailed her with the day I was moving her out, and that was that... I thought.
I was supposed to move her today.
Yesterday, she sent me an email saying that I was no longer her owner, and that I no longer had permission to move the horse off of the property. In doing so I would be trespassing. Apparently she has the ability to reneg on a legal bill of sale all by herself. Her reasons were that I had not 'shown up for work' the last week and a half, and was not 'financially responsible' for the care of the horse. (she had already, without informing me I was no longer needed, hired someone else to take care of the horses, and when I showed up to do the stuff that had already been done, I left without seeing anyone around. This is what she means by 'not showing up', because if she didn't see me, I wasn't there.)
Her reasons as listed included a vet bill I am paying off (it was several hundred dollars from last year that I have a payment plan on, agreed on by me and the vet himself) thats really none of her business; supposedly I was paying the farrier $20 at a time to shoe her ... which was entirely not true ... he charges much more than that and had I not been paying the full amount each time he WOULDN'T COME BACK (DUH!), again not her business; and threw back in my face what the judge in the custody case regarding my kids said to me about how I should seriously 'reconsider horse ownership at this time' not because of my finances, but her own bias that 'horses are big scary dangerous unpredictable animals not suitable for kids to be around'. AGAIN, none of her business.
I called Police Dept. for advice, in nutshell they say don't go on property without her permission, and that its a civil matter, have to go to court to get horse back. Great. I'm told this by several others as well. That I need to set up an appointment to get my saddle, grooming supplies, halter, etc. so nobody misunderstands why I'm there.
So, after the shock of being told all that, I find out from a friend whom I thought I could trust, and boards her horse there also, that boss had sent an email blast to all the other boarders sans me, saying if anyone sees me show up to take the horse to call her immediately. So, now everyone else is involved as well. Friend and I have a long conversation about it, and she promises me she will keep it confidential.
This morning, I check my email about noon for the first time, and theres another email from boss saying that she knows she's been getting my messages because she and my friend were talking and that I can contact her if I want to work something out in writing about me leaving her there, and being able to ride her there. My friend, when asked if she mentioned anything we discussed to boss, denied everything and claimed not to know whats going on. I can't tell if she's lying or not, but I have come to the conclusion that I can't trust anyone related to that ranch right now because anything I say might get back to boss and be used against me. So, I loose a great friend over this as well.
Now, this mare was used for most of her hard life as a surrogate broodmare or 'reset' mare, and how boss lady acquired her was exactly that way. She embryo transfered from another mare she owned years ago into (my horse) and shipped her from Florida to here. Once the foal was born, she was supposed to be shipped back, but boss kept her instead, and supposedly bought her from the vet facility. They claimed last august, when I tried to get her records, that the mare had not been paid for, and needed to either be paid for or sent back. I never followed up on that for fear that I wasn't supposed to know that information and never mentioned it to boss. To this day, I still don't know if boss ever paid her off. Then a few months ago, she asked me if she could use (my horse) again for that very purpose next year to breed her mare that colicked two weeks after her last foal was born, and almost died from it. She is so desperate to get another baby out of this other mare, that I really believe she is trying to keep (my horse) on the property for that reason. But I have no proof of that.
So I'm stuck canceling my transport with less than 24 hours notice (out the deposit there), have to go to the barn I was moving her to and tell them whats going on and ask for a refund, so they can open the stall back up, and I'm sitting on all the supplies I just bought and now can't use.
I have no other choice but to either sue for the horse itself back, or for the 14 months of board pay I worked off back because she never intended for the horse to leave the property. At the $350 per month cost, thats almost $5000. The horse is worth maybe $500 on open market, probably much less because she's slightly lame in 2 legs, has a club foot, and is not registered. And I have a signed and legal bill of sale! (for the record, I knew from the beginning that she would never be a lifetime riding horse. she would in the next 5 years or so, need to be retired from riding and put out to pasture, or given a non riding job. I was ok with this, and was starting to plan for it.)
I guess my intent on sending this is so maybe you can post this as a 'beware' type story, even though nobody would have seen this coming. By the way, this woman and her husband own two very profitable car dealerships and are quite active in the charities locally. My boyfriend suggested that I take this to the news media, with the slant that this woman is so generous as to spend thousands of their personal money to help those less fortunate but months after gifting a horse to someone close to her, with a legal bill of sale included, refuses to let the horse off the property when the new owner chooses to move her because of selfish personal reasons? HMMM. Think that might get some attention?
Anyways, I am just disgusted at the way this has all turned out. And I know others that read your blog may have had similar experiences, and I'd really like to know what happened, how it was resolved. I think if I go to court and sue for the full $5000, she won't pay that if it was her choice, she'd rather let the horse go, but in truth I am starting to wonder if I wouldn't be better off with the money, and go to the next Horsebreakers auction and pick up a gelding there..... but in truth my heart lies with her, problems and all, and It would be very difficult to let her go.
Thanks JR for reading this.
I have always taken a lot of pride in being an honest trainer and taking the utmost care of my clients. If I tell you I am going to do something, I do it and there is no questions asked.
I find this kind of crap in the horse industry alarming.
There seems to be a level of dishonesty that is in this industry that goes above anything else, primarily because there is no regulation.
But what do you do when you are in a situation like this?
It is important that you do get a written contract when buying a horse from any trainer of owner. No matter what!!!!!!!
I advise people, never enter into a free lease. They rarely work out.
When you go to the horse show and there are trainers there offering to sell you a horse that has won everything at the show, and the trainer tells you that the horse has won multiple Championships. Do not take his/her word for it, check the horses show record for yourself.
If the trainer/owner offers a vet check, get it, but use your own veterinarian, not the sellers!
If the seller tells you that you have to use his vet, then walk away.
Never, and I repeat never make an arrangement in which you are going work off the payments of the horse. If you work for the owner, let them pay you and then you write a check as a payment for the horse.
One of my neighbors was involved in a deal in which they were buying a horse from someone and working off the payments. The seller decided that she was not happy with the arrangement and went to the buyers house in the middle of the night and took the horse back. The buyer reported the horse stolen the next morning and now the seller is facing felony charges.
Do you see where I am going with this?
You absolutely have to protect yourself when buying a horse. There is absolutely no reason to take any risks.
The horse business is way too small. I hear about this crap all of the time and I start to question the integrity of horse people more and more. I know there are really honest horsemen/women out there that care about their reputations, but the bad ones seem to be popping their heads up more and more lately.
And that pisses me off!