A Tricky Situation, Please Help!
I'm going to try to make this as short as possible with all of the necessary components. I just want to know if there is anything I can do to help these horses.
I started boarding my horse at a facility in January 2012. The man who lives on the property and runs the facility is very knowledgable and takes wonderful care of every horse there. He is renting the property (house, barns, pastures, and land) from the owners that moved across the country a year ago. The owners left 3 horses behind in the pastures. The renter didn't move in until THREE WEEKS after the owners moved out and had no idea horses were left behind. The horses, of course, were in terrible condition. One of the horses had a terrible abscess on her left front leg and she almost died. The renter cared for these horses and took money out of his pocket to feed them and get vet care for the injured horse. The owner told the renter to keep the horses stalled 24/7 and only wanted them fed hay (no grain even though they were emaciated). The owner refused to buy good quality hay, let alone enough to keep any weight on the horses. In February 2012, the owner traveled to the barn and stayed for 2 weeks. Another horse was dropped off (making it a total of four horses that the owner has left). The horse was in great condition, but the owner strictly said that they only wanted one and a half bales of hay split between the four horses per day! Of course, the horse lost muscle mass quickly. All four of the horses have had several bouts of lice and the only extra care they get (deworming, hoof care, vet care, bathing, etc.) is from the renter and the people who board their horses at the barn. The latest horse that was dropped off has been lame for a few months now. The owner visited a few weeks ago and didn't understand how she would be lame (she's in a rocky paddock and used to have all four feet shod). As of yesterday, the horse is lame on 3 legs and doesn't seem very comfortable on the last, somewhat useful leg. The renter has informed the owner of every issue with the horses, but the owner just makes excuses and says they'll be "fine". The only horse that has gotten back to an acceptable weight and health is one that is in with boarders and has a round bale (paid for by the renter) to graze on 24/7. The owner was VERY upset that the horse was put in a paddock with a round bale, even though he's not paying for it and the horse would lose weight is getting it's quarter of the 1.5 bales of crappy hay daily. The worst part is that I know the owner is not ignorant. They owned, showed, and bred countless Champion Paints for years. They ran the same farm with over 25 horses on the property. Three of the mares have APHA points and all of the horses have wonderful dispositions. I know that these horses would be able to find great homes, but the owner only wants to sell two of them and they told the renter that they are going to take them to a kill buyer. Thankfully, this hasn't happened, yet.
What can I do, if anything?
I already check on them every time I'm at the barn. I pick out their feet, hose them down, throw them extra hay, and just love on them. The renter is in a terrible position because they are afraid of being evicted if they report the owners. At the same time, if someone reported animal cruelty (which there is definitely neglect on the owner's part), would it come back on the renter because they are technically the ones left caring for the horses?
Thank you in advance for any help.
I'm sorry but it sounds like there is a lot of the story missing.
If I owned a property that I leased out for someone to manage and left horses in their care, I would be horrified that they were being neglected on my own property. The barn manager is the one who has responsibility for their care. For all I know, the lease of the property could have included the care of owners horses as part of the agreement. The BM is the one onsite ea day. If the horses were in decent condition prior to coming into BMs care then it's hard to point a finger at the owner who isn't there. But it sounds like they continue to deteriorate under BMs care. The BM could turn them out in a better pasture if the owner's orig request wasnt kosher with the horses current needs. You don't 24/7 stall a horse with no turn out or exercise program. That's on the BM to work out an appropriate "retirement" program for these horses with the owner.
To me it sounds like the BM has neglected them since they don't generate a profit for the BM.
"Retired" horses don't need all 4 feet shod, they don't need as much feed since they aren't working. But they do need basic care. I don't know how old they are, but age plays a factor on how horses maintain weight and the type of feed they need. Why would a competent BM continue to turn out an unshod horse in a rocky paddock that you, as an onlooker deem inappropriate for the horse? I'm sure there are other paddocks the lame horse could be in.
BM and owner need to work this out and adjust the lease rates or whatever is needed to get BM to care appropriately for these horses. Then as a boarder, take stock and look around. Is the place being maintained? Are needed repairs occurring, is it going downhill? If the owner is the culprit you should be seeing other signs of decay if they can't afford to maintain their horses. If this isn't the case, I'd start questioning the story.
I have a pretty hard line opinion on this. If an animal is under your roof, you have responsibility. If the owner can't afford or agree with basic care, then the owner/horses should move out. It is the BMs responsibility to care for horses and get rid of bad seed clients. It's bad for business to allow horses to degenerate. If I was even at a barn where this was allowed to happen (not my horses involved), I'd seriously question the care my horses receive when I'm not around. My horses, if boarded at a facility like this, would be moved out unless there was a darned good explanation that was 100% valid and not a crock of bull.
In effort of fairness I figured I'd balance this last post, squash my pessimistic side, and direct an answer to the exact scenario you posted. Assumption is owner is not being realistic or supportive of the appropriate level of care for their horses. BM is caught in tight spot because this person owns the property they lease.
You can do several things.
1) Help find the sale horses new owners. offer to take pictures, help video, whatever is needed to market them for sale.
2) Document horses condition and Report it to animal control. This likely won't be helping BM, but may help horses. You may find yourself asked to leave the barn and there is no guarantee that the situation for horses will change.
3) Ask yourself if you are in a position to buy or lease these horses.
4) Talk to BM, suggest that owner/BM work out a plan for appropriate care. As a contract. Vet's assessment and recommendation for care can provide a basis for this. If owner doesn't have $$ then possible reduction in the barn rent to cover the care.
5) if horses can be fattened up, can they earn their keep? BM could propose to owner higher level of care that cost could be offset if horse is used for lessons, etc.
I commend you for your concern. Many people would turn a blind eye.
But be careful how you proceed. If BM has tried to resolve this, your intervention may not be viewed as help.
First off, I'm well aware of what animal cruelty and neglect are. My family owned a veterinary hospital while I was growing up and I worked in the veterinary field as well. I do have a bleeding heart for animals, especially horses. I've seen many cases of neglect and cruelty, and this is one of them. The owner is neglectful of his horses. Someone, with my description of the situation, things got turned around. So, let me give you more details and see what you think. I feel that maybe you weren't getting the right picture. I hope that some extra details will help in better understanding this situation.
The owner's of the property (which is in North Carolina) moved to Arizona about a year ago. They found someone to rent their home and property, the BM, and they agreed that the BM could run a boarding facility. The BM moved to the property in North Carolina three weeks after the owner's had left. To the BM's horror, three horses had been left out in the pasture without any care for those 3 weeks.
The facilities and property are well cared for and maintained. The rocky pasture that the owner's 3 mares are in was never in use until the owner visited in February. The owner "fixed up" the pasture and decided that the mares could stay out in that pasture 24/7 rather than being stalled 24/7. It was the owner's request to have his horses stalled 24/7, claiming that "they're used to it" and that's how he always used to do it.
As for the lame mare, the owner refused to do anything with her a few weeks ago other than get her feet trimmed and that was only after the BM pushed for a trim and vet care. Unfortunately, the owner decided against vet care.
I know that the BM takes care of all of the horses, very well. All of the horses are in great condition, including 3 horses that are his own. He pays money out of his pocket to feed the owner's horses more hay and grain than the owner sends money for. These horses range in age from 3 years to 10 years. There was never an agreement for the BM to take care of the owner's 3 horses that were left behind, nor the fourth that the owner's dropped off in February. The BM is not compensated in any way (money or lower rent payments) for taking care of the owner's four horses. And, keep in mind, the owner brought the fourth horse to North Carolina because he couldn't afford boarding fees or hay for the horse anymore.
The owners live in Arizona. Regardless of weekly updates on their horses' conditions, they still refuse any veterinary care for the horses. The horses are dewormed bi-monthly, which is paid for by the BM. The BM records the weight of every horse on the property every month (including the owner's 4 horses). If it weren't for the BM, three of the four horses would be dead. The three that were left behind when the owner moved were extremely underweight and only put weight back on because of the care that the BM gave them. Two of the horses are close to an ideal weight, but still need hoof and vet care that the owner refuses to give them.
So, do you think the BM should be paying out of pocket for the complete care (veterinary, farrier, chiropractic, etc.) for these four horses because the owner simply doesn't want to?
That would be wonderful if you could just neglect a horse and have someone else pay for everything for them and then sell them. But, that's not how it works.
The owner is cheap (or he just may not have the money to care for the horses and doesn't want to admit it) and he isn't allowing for proper care of the horses. When told by the BM that the horse dropped off in Febuary had lost it's muscle mass (the owner saw this with his own eyes), the owner said, "well, you're more than welcome to work them to put muscle back on them." Also, the BM knew a few people who may be interested in buying one of the horses. When the BM asked the owner how much he would ask for the horse, the owner said $5,000! The horse is a 3 year old Paint stud that is MAYBE 14.3 and has had NO TRAINING. The owner said he would have asked for $2,500 but since the horse is homozygous he wants $5,000. The stud is no where near breeding material.
Also, I've thought of working with these horses,but it's hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that I would be conditioning the owner's horses so that he could continue to neglect doing it. If I could buy these horses, I most definitely would. The only thing stopping me is the fact that the owner wants outrageous amounts of money for them.
I hope this better explained the situation. If you need more details, let me know. Thank you
I don't understand why the BM hasn't just filed a lien on the horses and be done with it. IF he truly leased the property with no agreement to keep the owner's horses, then I'd have liened those suckers and gone to court in a heartbeat. It sounds like the owner of the property is taking an illegal advantage by dropping off (abandoning) horses on the property and that the BM is trying to make the best of it by getting him to pay for some feed if not care.
I, personally, would stay out of it since the horses are being fed and cared for at this time. It will be hard to claim neglect when the horses are fairly well fed and have trimmed feet. If the owner follows through on the threat to take the horses to the sale, then a bunch of you can go to the sale and buy them to keep them safe and then re-sell them yourselves, if you feel that strongly about it.
Remember that in a lot of states, if there is food, water (some require shelter too), on the premises, there is no cause for action by animal control and they can't do anything until the horses are in dire straits.
Here in OK, if the sheriff (no ACO in the county) comes on my property and says someone complained I'm not caring for my horses and I can show him the 500 bales of hay in the feed barn, the pallets of feed and the full stock tubs on the property, then he's got to go away until they are so starved that he can show that I'm actually not feeding them. The law is a very funny thing. It only says I have to HAVE adequate feed and water, not that I actually have to GIVE it to them. Your laws may or may not be similar.
Thank you, Pat! I never knew that was an option. I will definitely bring that up.
Good luck, this all sounds like a bunch of crap for the owner to do something like that. Do they have no compassion at all for their animals?? Wishing u the best, and be careful, things like this can get very messy.... :)
Here in Texas the owner is still responsible for their horses, we have had plenty of people who live out of state "abandon" their horses with someone and then try to claim"we left them with so and so ' well your BM i feel would not escape unscaithed but... the owner is responsible. As far as it goesl, I'm guessing suzyQ could call have a friend of someone who boards call then no one will be the wiser.But those poor horses need someone to give a **** .I'm glad they have you and the BM.
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