Who's horse is it?

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Who's horse is it?

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    07-18-2011, 08:29 AM
Who's horse is it?

Just curious on your opinions, this situation does not involve me.
Person A, barn owner and trainer.
Person B, original owner of horse.
Horse will be called H.

B hired A to take Horse and put some work on him so he could be used as a trail horse. B said H just needed fine tuning, wanted about 2 weeks riding put on him.
A takes horse home, finds he knows almost nothing, can't steer, barely ridable, but progresses quickly.
Both parties agree for him to stay on a few more weeks for more training.
B wants a very quiet horse, which H won't be yet for a long time.
A offers to buy him, but not for a few months, wants to return him in the interum.
B says A might as well keep him there, if he is only going to go back in a few months.
A reluctantly agrees, says she won't charge B board during those next few months.
At this point, no money has changed hands. B has not paid for the 3-4 weeks training and board already provided.
One week later, there is a freak accident in the paddock. A comes out to feed, finds H with broken leg. B is called, horse is euthanised.
A, feeling badly, offers to pay for vet, and also takes care of burying horse on her own property.
A week later, B is asking A when she can expect her money for the purchase of dead H.
A says never, was not ready to buy horse yet.
No contract, no payment as yet for training. I do not know if there was a contract for training. Let's assume no.
Now B says she is contacting her lawyer to sue for value of the horse.

What do you think?
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    07-18-2011, 08:39 AM
In my eyes she said she would charge B for board implying B was boarding with A.
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    07-18-2011, 08:39 AM
But saying so I have no legal knowledge
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    07-18-2011, 08:40 AM
Green Broke
I think B should count her blessings that A didn't want back training and boarding fees, and vet & burying fees also. That said I am assuming there was no outright negligence on the part of A as to why H died. If a person dies at the hospital you still get billed for medical bills, same goes with animals at the vet. I think B should save the lawyer fees for her new ALREADY BROKE horse.
    07-19-2011, 07:36 AM
Super Moderator
A offers to buy him, but not for a few months, wants to return him in the interum.
B says A might as well keep him there, if he is only going to go back in a few months.
A reluctantly agrees, says she won't charge B board during those next few months.
This part is key. It sounds like A had explicitly told B that that A was not interested in purchasing H at that point in time, but instead in a few months from then. That B told A to keep H on A's property in the meantime (presumably for B's own convenience) in anticipation of A's eventual purchase of H does not change the fact that B continued to own H until their future contract was executed. Since that never happened before H died, B should not be able to recover the sale price from A.

At the same time, A should not be able to recover the cost of board from B as of the time A agreed to board H free of charge in anticipation of taking ownership of H.

It seems neither A nor B considered the possibility that H would suffer an injury that would require euthanization before the sale took place. As a result, B bore the risk that something would happen to H before H was actually sold, and A bore the risk that she was providing free board to a horse that might not ultimately become hers. Had H not become A's as a result of B's changing her mind, though, A would arguably have had a case against B for unjust enrichment (the value of the benefit conferred).

Of course, an alternative interpretation of the facts is that A and B had effectively executed a contract for future performance. Depending on the details A and B discussed, such as a price, a specific date that H would become A's, etc., one could argue that the details of their agreement were sufficiently in place such that their understanding constituted a contract, and B had effectively performed their part by leaving H in A's custody. This would likely be the theory of B's lawsuit. However, this interpretation would seem to conflict with both A's explicitly expressing that she did not want to buy H at that time, but in a few months, and A agreeing only reluctantly to keep H until the time of sale, so I can't imagine it would be afforded much weight.

Of course, the above does not constitute legal advice.
    07-19-2011, 07:54 AM
Super Moderator
I forgot to add that proving that all of the above happened the way it did is another matter, entirely. B may have a stronger case if A has no proof that A actually said she did not want to buy H now but in the future, that A only reluctantly agreed to provide H with free board until a future sale, etc.

The analysis also excludes any action for negligence like Taffy Clayton mentioned.
    07-19-2011, 08:10 AM
What about the initial training and boarding services that A provided before H died? This bill has not been paid. Is it unreasonable for A to expect to collect?
    07-19-2011, 08:45 AM
Green Broke
To me, until money exchanges hands, the horse belongs to the original owner. If the original owner decides not to pay for services, the barn owner/trainer can claim a lien on property (the horse) to cover costs lost. Since the horse was still owned by the original owner, in my eyes, she cannot sue for the horse, unless she can prove negligence on the BO's part for the horse getting injured. Not true legal advice, just my opinion and maybe common sense.
    07-19-2011, 11:28 AM
Super Moderator
Originally Posted by Skipsfirstspike    
What about the initial training and boarding services that A provided before H died? This bill has not been paid. Is it unreasonable for A to expect to collect?
I don't see any reason why B would not still owe A for any services rendered for which there was an agreed upon fee. That H has passed on does not change the fact that A provided said services for an agreed upon fee. This may be clearer in a different context: If an auto shop services your car and you total your car the next week, you still owe the auto shop for their work even if the car is gone (assuming the work was not defective).

That is, of course, unless B has proof that A absolved B of B's debts. Even if that were the case, A could argue that any such absolution was contingent upon A taking ownership of H in the future, which never came to pass.
    07-19-2011, 12:19 PM
Here is the exact reason I will never let a horse I am selling go out on a trail period. Someone is buying the horse and wants to try it out. You let it go, it gets killed, even accidentely and I can guarantee the "buyer" forgets about buying the horse.
This scenerio above sounds alot like a he said/she said thing. Without paper proof to back up either story, I would assume it will be a dead in the water court case, if it goes that far. I think its too late for A to ask for training/boarding money and B, in my opinion still owned horse, no matter where it was.

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