Upset friends and I don't know what else to do
I'll try to keep a long story brief, but need your thoughts on this.
Some very good friends of mine, a wife and her husband, wanted horses. They are beginners and didn't know that much. So we searched high and low until we found two very beginner friendly TWH mares. They have land but didn't have a fence up so I told them they could keep them for free at my place until they got their fence up. I think that was late last fall. Later, we rescued a 20 year old emaciated TWH. It took me several months to get her in decent shape but she turned out to be a wonderful horse for their granddaughter. So she is here too.
I turned their horses in with mine on the 48 acres across the road. In that pasture were three of my horses and my sister's spotted saddle horse and my little niece's spotted saddle horse (I keep the horses for my sister sometimes too). At the house I have 5 acres and on that side I had my sister's show horse and one of my horses.
Well, the horses on the 48 acres got out one day and my husband didn't know what else to do (I was at work) so he put them all in the 5 acres. During the chaos, one of the horses chased my sister's show horse into the fence, or kicked her badly, and ripped her chest open. Lots of stitches, a permanent scar and a $411 vet bill.
I suspected it was my friend's bay mare, who is very horse aggressive, but I didn't say anything about it much then. But last night I went out to find my little niece's small spotted saddle horse with a huge swelling on her lower jaw (mandible?). Very hard, not soft. So first thing this morning we are at the vet again. This time he said for sure it was a bad kick and her jaw is fractured. He said it happened probably two weeks ago and we are just now seeing bone growth over it, and the deformity to her jaw is permanent.
My vet said I am seeing the results of an aggressive horse's behavior and I need to determine which horse and get it out of the pasture ASAP before something worse happens. I've watched the horses a lot and know how they interact, and the ONLY one I've seen chase and kick the other horses is my friend's mare.
So I have called them and told them they have to get their fence up, and that I will help them put up electric fence, whatever it takes, but that I have to get their horses home to them. The horses that have gotten hurt don't even belong to me and I'm sick over that. I could tell my friends are angry and it makes me sick but I don't know what else to do. I don't really have the facilities to fence off anything else, and the 48 acres is not mine, I only lease it. Plus its expensive to fence and I don't need any more fencing for my horses or my sisters. What can I do or say to make this better?
Better for who? You've done them a tremendous favor. Shame on them for being mad because their mare's behavior is forcing them to be responsible for their horses sooner than they like.
You are a good friend .. they'll get over it.
You probably can't make it better, they have overstayed their welcome and taken advantage of you and they know it. Now their horse has cause damage to your sister's horses and they are embarrassed and hostile because of it. Unless they take a step back and think about how long they've overstayed at your place and take responsibility for their bad manners, you're probably going to lose them as friends. Not your fault and I wouldn't feel bad about it, they should not have put you in this position. If you have the use of the 48 acres still, I'd toss their horses over there and let them figure out why they're escaping, not your problem.
Thanks for making me feel a little better........... I do still have the 48 acres, we fixed the fence where they were getting out. But that's the problem, I am using the 48 acres. That's were my niece's little horse was. We only have the 5 acres at the house and I can't keep all 9 horses on it, that's why I pay to lease land. So only two horses are over here and the others are out on the 48, including my friends horses AND two of my sister's........
The reason I feel so bad is that I love these friends, they are really wonderful people and are good to help when needed, they come when I call if I need anything, and we have been good to each other over the years. I feel terrible because I told them they could keep them here, and they don't have any fencing up. So now they are in a position where they are going to have to scramble to find something to do with their horses.
I hope this doesn't wreck our friendship. I do treasure my friends and those relationships are important to me. And for the most part (except the wounded horses) I have enjoyed them being here and spending time with them.
9 horses on 5 acres is an accident waiting to happen regardless of who's horse is doing the kicking. I am confused thought if the fence is fixed why not put them out as before since every one was ok then. If you are leasing the 48 acres I would think you would ask them to pay there fair share.
OOOOK, it sounded like they were all on the 5 acre parcel. For the time being, if you can, I'd make them the only 2 horses somewhere, either on the 48 or on your property, I'd get them away from yours and your sister's horses. I'd also send them a letter, certified mail, return receipt, that as of a certain date if the horses were not removed before this date that a/they could start paying board (make it HIGH to motivate them) and b/if board was not paid by such and such a date, I'd consider the horses abandoned and would then sell them to cover expenses for their care.
If it was me, I'd write them something along these lines:
As we discussed last year when you brought your horses to me for care, on Nov. 1, 2011 (or whatever the correct date really is), you were to build fencing on your property so that you could care for your horses properly on your own. I agreed to do this at no charge to assist you in being able to purchase the needed fencing materials, so that you could remove your horses from my property and to your property into your care, in a reasonable amount of time. At no time did we agree this boarding situation was to be permanent.
Since it is now July 2, 2012 and you still have not removed your horses, and they have caused damage to 2 of mine, I must now build fencing on MY property to house your horses. I will bill you for the costs of labor & materials upon completion of said fence. The professional estimates I am getting for this amount of fencing are: $XXXXX and you will need to pay upon completion of the project.
As of August 1, 2012 I will also need to be paid board for your horses, put their names and registration numbers here, in the amount of $XXX per horse for a total of $XXX per month, due and payable on the 1st of every month for the time they are remaining. I am enclosing a board contract which must be signed and returned with your first month's board payment or your horses must be removed from my property before the 1st of August, 2012.
If you choose not to pay board and leave the horses here after August 15, 2012, I will consider them abandoned and will sell them to recoup the costs of damages I have suffered since their arrival.
That puts everything on a business footing, removes any personal issues from the transaction and reminds them, in a kind of nice way, that they are being deadbeats and you are not going to take it anymore.
I have a board contract that I wouldn't mind you using, as long as you took out all of my info and made it into yours. My contract automatically puts a lien on the horses if the board isn't paid and has a release of liability in it. You'd need to check TN for specifics required in the release, but the contract is pretty cut and dried and should be good. The whole idea is to get them to move their horses anyhow, NOT put you in the boarding business.
Ok, guess I need to clarify a little, sorry my post was confusing. At the 5 acres was my sister's show horse mare who needs to be kept up and is really too "hot" to turn out (plus I try to keep her nice for my sister) and my spotted saddle horse mare who is prone to founder (has slight founder that we watch closely) and she can't be out in all that grass. They happened to be out in the 5 acres when the other horses got loose.
In the 48 acres was all of the other horses. Actually, at the time there were 10 horses (my sister just recently took her show horse home, after she got hurt). Things seemed to be going fine. When the horses got OUT of the 48 acre pasture, my husband (who knows nothing about horses) didn't know what to do and put them all in the five acres. I would NEVER keep 9-10 horses on 5 acres, that's just looking for trouble.
I don't think I will have any trouble with getting them moved, when I talked to my friends they said they will move them right away and are going to figure out today where and how. They are usually good for their word too. I just know they are upset and I hate it badly......
At least that is the way I understood it. Maybe I'm wrong?
I agree with everyone else - your friends are using your generosity by taking advantage of free board. I think your first mistake in the beginning was not asking a boarding fee and then not setting a time limit for them to get their own fencing done. It doesn't excuse their greedy nature though. Over 6 months is plenty of time to have put up some sort of fence and if it wasn't - then they weren't ready for horses in the first place.
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