Have had boarders horse for a year with ZERO payment & now they want horse!!
Hi, I have read over several other posts in this forum hoping to get an answer..here is the situation: I was contacted by a woman 'down on her luck" and she was wanting to sell me her horse. I felt bad for her(stupid on my part I know) and offered to let her bring her horse to my farm and told her that as long as she paid for hay, grain , and general upkeep, that I would not charge her 'board'..She brought her horse on a Sunday, he was in HORRIBLE shape, underweight, some of the worst rainrot I have ever seen on a horse, feet were really bad, etc..I did take pictures of him, right there in front of her.. She said (after the hauler had left) that she didnt have room to bring hay or grain and that she would be dropping it off soon. 2 days later she showed up at midnight with 2 bales(sqaure) and dropped them off.. She came one other time and dropped off $20 of a 45$ farrier bill..She has not provided any grain , hay, dewormer..NOTHING for this horse..I have had him here since late March of 2013..so I received a message today stating that she is selling him, that she is sending 'buyers' to my farm to pick him up this weekend..I told her that he was not leaving the farm until the entire bill is paid(right around 1,000$) or that I would accept the horse for payment..(she is asking 600-700 for him) ...I know(very very stupid on my half) that we dont have an actual contract, I do however have all of the messages that we have sent back and forth, stating that she knew what the terms of him being here were, every time I dewormed, had the farrier out,etc and what her share of those costs were. I have contacted an attorney , she said to threaten to take her to court, but she was not clear on the laws here(WV) but she recommended that I not try to keep the horse if someone shows up..I have found out in the mean time that the previous place that kept the horse for her, she also didnt pay any board there and the owner threatened to have the humane society remove the horse..He is a great horse, my 9 year old daughter loves him..She is accusing me of letting her bring him here to get a free horse, bc "I knew she was having a hard time financially and she didnt have a car" ..Does anyone know what my rights would be? 1,000$ may not be a lot to some people, but it is to me, and I dont want to throw it all away, becasue I know if it comes to civil court and the result is her just having to pay, she will never do it.. I dont want her horse for free, I feel that with what she owes me in care and feed, I am well within my rights to keep him and refuse access to anyone to my farm....Any advice out there? Other than "you should have gotten it it writing/contract" I know this already..lol..
See if you can find a lawyer who has experience with equine and livestock law. It may be that you do have a right to the horse, but I really couldn't say. You do have a right to keep people off your property though. I wouldn't be letting the owner or anyone else on the property until the bill is paid in full. Send her written notice of this. Also, if it does go to court, you will probably want to contact her pervious barn for whatever records they have on her not paying.
If you have gated property, lock it and call the police if anyone tries to come onto the property. If not and you can put up a gate, I would do so right away.
Thank you, I do have a gate, but also have neighbors with a right-of-way through my property so it is almost impossible to keep locked without giving them all a key.. I do have security cameras, everything is posted, etc.. I do have another farm 5 miles away that is for horses that I am training and although it was never brought up about moving or not moving him there...wondering if I should move him there just in case someone shows up when I am not home( that would be rarely if ever though)..Im just at a loss.. I have tried locating an equine attorney, there are none in my area, the only reson I got the answers I did from the attorney I did contact is that she and I went to college together and she did a lot of research into it for me ..
It depends on where you live. I think here, after three months w/out board the horse can be sold for the money back.
I had someone drop a horse off with me several years ago. After about a year I ran an add in the paper that basically said something like...
To whom it may concern,
The black paso fino gelding that was dropped off at my property on such and such date will be sold on this date if you do not claim him or something to that affect, I can remember exactly.
After the ad ran for a week, I sold it to a neighbor for $1. It was a very sweet gelding and the older gentleman that took him on really took good care of him...
I keep finding info that almost always states 3 months, but so far have had zero luck finding anything specific to WV.. I really dont mind keeping him here, like I said my daughter loves him, and he is a great horse for her to start out on.. I just dont want it to seem like I am guilty of what she is claiming "that I offered to board him knowing that she was in a bad way financially, just to get a 'free' horse out of the deal".. I guess it would be best for me, if she were to just say 'keep him for the money I owe you" but I know that her intetntions are to sell him and not pay me from that money like she has claimed, how could she when she has told me that they dont have a car, neither are working and she said she is selling him for 600 or 700$ and owes me 1,000$..I dont know, Im just at a loss..I should have known better than to be nice, somehow it always bites me in the butt
In Ontario, the moment board is overdue, there is an automatic lien on the horse. The owner can't just come and remove it from the property unless money owing is paid in full. In Ontario the law is the Innkeeper's Act. Some may find it under Stablemen's Act, Warehouseman's Lien or Mechanic's Lien. Check your state laws. If you can't find it call your county extension agent. Move the horse to your other property.
I've never been in a situation like this, but couldn't you, if a potential buyer came and picked him up ask them for the cash upfront?
That way she doesn't get it?
I don't know if that would work and it may just get you in a heap more trouble.... But food for thought I guess
WV lien laws.
What I have done in the past is to send a demand letter, registered mail, return receipt required AND sent one just regular mail. Notify them that they must pay in full before the animal can leave the property and if not paid in full by XX date, then you will file in Small Claims Court. Once that date comes, you go down, fill out all the paperwork and file in Small Claims. It'll cost you about $100. Keep track of all the money spent trying to collect this debt because if you go to court, you'll add that to the money owed. On the court date, you make sure you show up, she probably won't, and the judge will probably give you an award of the animal making you the new legal owner. If your state requires it, you may have to sell the animal at public auction to try to get the money to settle the bill. In the states I've lived in, you had to give the old owner any amount in excess of the bill, if the horse brought in more than what was owed. Chances are, she'll either sign over the horse or pay up as soon as she's served with a notice to appear in court.
Just read that law section I linked for you, and do exactly what it says to notify her of your intent to collect on the bill. Print out and keep every bit of correspondence you have with her re: boarding that horse. Gather up every receipt you can for the expenses you've had for feed, farrier, vet, etc. Make a list of all expenses and list every time she's dropped off hay, grain or paid an $$ for a service. Keep every receipt of your expenses for filing and notifying her of your intent to collect. It's a PITA to have to do this, hopefully she'll just sign the horse over.
You do not have to let anyone on your property for any reason.
Do not let anyone on your property to see that horse, not even the person that abandoned it.
Put up a gate on your driveway if need be, than if they open the gate and come in it is easier to prove trespass
OP, you would not be getting this horse for free. You have already put $1,000 into an animal the owner wants to sell for $600-700.
Under the circumstances, you have every right to put an agister's lien on this horse. You may wish to keep this animal as payment in full. However, your state laws might require it to be sold at public auction, so you will need to take advice on this.
I would definitely move the horse to your other property. Take pictures to show how much better he looks under your care. If you haven't already done so, write to her threatening court action (regardless of whether or not you choose to go down this route). Make this horse not worth the hassle for her.
Your attorney stressed that you should let the horse go, if the owner arrives to claim it back. If she does, I would ensure she signed a statement acknowledging the money owed beforehand. I know you don't feel that pursuing this in small claims court is worthwhile, but if the horse leaves your property it may be your only option.
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