Question of horse ownership (long story, but no idea what to think)
My sister (17 yrs old) aquired a horse (18yr old quarter horse) about two years ago from a stable she was volunteering at. The owner of the horse is in the military and had left the horse in the care of the stable. (I don't know if she was paying board or what) The horse was being used for lessons and what not, and the owner wasn't very fond of that, so she asked her friend to keep this horse at her personal barn (where the owner was supposed to send down $$ to help cover feed, but never did).
My sister followed where that horse went and started riding him at the personal barn with the owner of the barn. The owner (military lady) of the horse liked the idea of her horse only having one rider and she gave my sister full permission to ride him whenever she wanted.
After keeping him at the personal barn for the entire summer of 2011, my sister wanted to move him cause he was getting too beat up by the other horses and she had the opportunity to move him to a barn right down the road from us. She talked to the owner (all of there communication is done by email b/c the military lady is rarely in state due to being in the military). The owner agreed to let her move him so she moved him to the barn right by us strictly under my sisters care.
My sister has been paying for his feed, coggins, vet bills, farrier bills, and anything else strictly out of her own pocket. The military owner never sent down a dime to help cover expenses.
A couple of months ago the owner was in town and ASKED if it was okay if she could come visit him. My sister said yes and they had a very nice and civil meet and greet with the horse and owner and the owner left without any problems.
Within the past week, the horse has come down with a very serious ear infection. He's getting treatment and should be fine, but the owner is all of a sudden unhappy with the situation and is telling my sister she will be down in a few months to move the horse to a new home.
Does this horse even belong to the military owner anymore? The coggins are in my sisters name and everything. There was no bill of sale or any signed documents between them, but my sister is absolutely broken hearted that this horse (her first horse, if it can be considered hers) is going to be taken away from her after solely caring for him for over a year.
Is there anything we can do or does the horse still technically belong to the owner and she has the right to do whatever she wants?
We live in Florida if that makes any difference about laws.
If you're still reading, thank youn so much for your time.
I don't know the laws, but in my mind, your sister was essentially leasing the horse...without a formal lease agreement.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, the horse still belongs to the owner. Now, nothing really stops your sister from asking to buy the horse and get a bill of sale. If she presents to the owner a list of expenses she has paid and makes a reasonable offer, perhaps the owner can be persuaded to sell her the horse.
Otherwise, I would suggest your sister walk away and look for a new horse. This informal situation will only end up with someone getting hurt.
That's just my $0.02
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I agree with you. I just wasn't sure if there was something I was missing or not. Should she make her pay for all the bills she has had to deal with before returning the horse or do you think that is just a part of the "lease" ?
You know, I would consider the bills she paid part of the lease. In some lease agreements, all bills are the responsibility of the leasee.
That doesn't mean you sister cannot ask for reimbursement. She could make a case that she paid for the horse's board and food an that she would like the owner to reimburse her for the other costs.
She could also figure out what the horse would sell for, deduct what she has already paid and offer the owner the balance if any) in return for a bill of sale.
Or, she could just request a formal lease agreement to protect her rights and let everything continue as is (with a formal agreement in place).
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I'll definitely let her know all of this. Thank you for reading, I was worried no one was going to respond to it since this is one of the less popular thread categories.
Thank you very much for your time and concern.
I haven't much to add except that I hope your sister comes out of this okay. At very least she has learned a sad lesson that getting thing in writing is essential!
I'm sending positive thoughts for your sister. I have delt with "horse people" who just wanted someone to pay the hard bills for their horses before.
Thank you so much, I'll be sure to tell her.
Just to update, it's pretty set that the owner is picking him up in two weeks and there is nothing that we have found that we are able to do.
Again, thank you for your thoughts. They are very much appreciated.
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I'm sorry your sister is going to come out on the 'hurting' end of this deal, but unfortunately, that's pretty much how it was set up right from the start.
She needs to find her own horse, buy it and board it and care for it herself. Then she won't have to worry about someone coming home and wanting to take the horse away from her. It's sad.
I too would ask for all the fees. if she kept any e-mails, keep them, because they can be used as legal documents. I would act like none of those bills were paid for and ask for the money otherwise the horse cannot leave the property. and /or offer to pay the bills if you could keep the horse and she can visit it. As far as Im concered you already own it. people who do not pay board fees ect. lose the horse. She has nothing on you about leasing, and thats her own fault! she should have a signed agreement to protect her horse. Don't let that horse leave until she pays!!
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