Ok, so I'm curious as to what to expect, I will try to make a long story short.
I have had issues on and off with my boarding stable for a while now, but recently they fired their barn manager and hired another one. With those changes came some things I wasn't happy about. They cut way back on shavings, changed all the grain to rolled oats and raised the board to 345/month. Fine whatever...
Now a while back Brandon had an impaction colic, and the vet recommended he have two water buckets instead of one. While I was gone to Florida for work training, the new barn manager took my second bucket out of Brandon's stall and put it by my tack. When I asked the owner why (via text) she responded with:
"They just freeze. You can put it up he doesn't drink much. We will not water 2 buckets."
Every night when I went out there, even around 6, at least one and one half of the buckets were gone. Regardless, I feel that they should have at least TOLD me they were doing it, rather than being cowardly and doing it while I was in Florida.
Prior to leaving on my business trip I had to cancel a lesson with my trainer because part of the roof of the indoor blew off.
The entire barn is losing insulation (some of it falling into the feed bins) and is covered with black mold.
The holes in the ceiling of both the barn and the indoor have so many holes in them, there are piles of snow everywhere.
They leave the hay outside, stacked in wagons to get covered by snow...then they thaw and mold.
Brandon has bleeding hock sores from lack of bedding, I asked for more but they were not thrilled about it.
I pay my board from the 15th to the 15th of every month, it just happened that way.
On Dec 15th I gave them my 30 day notice (super polite) and last month of board. That night the barn owner called me. She was extremely unprofessional, told me another boarder had already told her I was leaving, told her I wanted to come back in the summer, but I was not welcome back. She was snarky and upset. I maintained composure. When I hung up I called the new place to see if I could come early, as I was pretty sure the minimally ****ty care he was getting was about to get worse. They were fine with me moving early. Called my friend with a trailer and met her at the barn.
Brandon had 0 water and no food (he's not usually done with his hay that early because of the hay net). We moved and I cancelled my last board check.
Now the owners are taking me to court.
I am curious as to what will happen with this, as the contract is poorly worded and sketchy, and I feel that Brandon's health was in danger staying there any longer.
Also, the barn owner swore she did a barn check every night and filled buckets, etc. She didn't even realize Brandon was gone until the next morning.
Here is a copy of the contract as well. My board has gone up a few times without us signing new contracts.
So will I have to pony up or ?
I am getting the vet to send me records of the colic incident and double bucket recommendation.
"My treasures do not clink together or glitter; They gleam in the sun and neigh in the night."
Go to court. Take any evidence you have (do you have pictures, copies of the texts?). If the BO failed to meet any of their obligations in the contract, if you can prove that you felt they broke the contract first and you felt your horse was in danger, you have a chance.
Be sure to write out a FACTUAL statement/timeline. Do not get emotional, stick to straight facts.
10/1 - horse treated for colic
10/2 - 2nd water bucket recommended by vet
10/3 - Barn owner informed of 2nd bucket requirement
11/2 - New BM starts at barn
11/15 - 2nd bucket removed from stall, reminded BO and BM of vet recommendation. Told that they would not accommodate second bucket
Etc... Pictures of substandard care (mouldy hay, poor shavings, sores on horse, insulation falling) will help your case as well.
Have you been served or has the BO just said they're going to take you to court? If you haven't even been served, I'd gather up as much evidence as possible and then make a file where you can get to it if you actually do get served. Then I'd forget about it until/unless it actually happens.
It really depends on what evidence you have. Do you have evidence that you notified that them that your horse needed two buckets prior to them removing them? If it is a service only offered to you horse then I guess they can refuse to do it. I don't think that alone is enough to refund your board. They could argue that if a horse needed daily injections for a medical condition they wouldn't be required to do it, and the extra bucket is another medical requirement.
Do you have evidence that they stopped feeding your horse?
That's what it's going to come down to, what evidence you have that they acted outside their agreement, which is probably providing all reasonable care which, besides not feeding on that last day, they probably did.
Do you have evidence that you tried to solve this problem in a reasonable manner?
You signed a contract that you broke and they can show that - so it's up to you to show that they broke the contract first. If you don't have much evidence then I wouldn't spend the time and money going to court.