Need advice. Horse left on private property, owner is unreachable, what can be done? - The Horse Forum
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  • 4 Post By horselovinguy
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post #1 of 6 Old 06-23-2018, 01:51 PM Thread Starter
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Need advice. Horse left on private property, owner is unreachable, what can be done?

This is in Utah, and we can't find specific applicable laws or policies that pertain to private parties rather than boarding stables, so could use some advice from the horse public at large.

My mother and stepfather agreed last summer to house several horses for a friend who was going through a divorce and needed to remove them from his own property. He did supply his own feed, but my stepfather has been the primary caregiver for the horses since they've been on the property. The friend and his horses stayed with my parents for a short while, but then friend moved out of state and left his horses in my parents yard for months, ignoring their inquiries about having the horses shipped to him. Finally, after months of flakey excuses and "I'll come get them soon," the friend finally drove down and removed all the horses except for one from the yard this spring.

The horse that was left behind, according to him, is his daughter's horse, and he suddenly now refused to take responsibility for him and take him with the others(even though the horse was on his property before the divorce, and he had no problems moving him in then, and never before indicated that the anyone else would be responsible for this one). Instead, he told my parents that his daughter would have to arrange to have her own horse moved off their property, and that was the last time anybody heard from or saw him. He has not answered a single phone call or text message since moving his horses out several months ago.

Meanwhile, my parents have repeatedly reached out to his daughter about picking up the remaining horse. She has ignored most contact attempts, and when she does answer, it is obvious that she has nowhere to keep the horse herself and has made no efforts at all to make other arrangements.

It has now been almost a full year since the horses first arrived at their house. The friend has always kept hay here to feed the horse(s), but has otherwise never contributed to their care or made any effort to compensate for the space, time, or water that his (or his daughter's) horses have needed for the past 11 months.

My parents have long since sold their own horses because they are ready to retire from the responsibility of livestock care and maintenance. Housing these horses (for free) was meant to be a very temporary favor for a friend in need, and now they feel they are just being taken advantage of.

They don't want to be malicious or confrontational, but are fast approaching the point of exhaustion with asking nicely and getting no response. Does anyone know what steps they can take and what rights they may have in regards to getting this horse off of their property?
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post #2 of 6 Old 06-23-2018, 01:55 PM
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Instead of asking for them to remove the horse maybe ask for ownership? Or get a bill of sale even if it's for a penny? I wouldn't know where to begin on the legal side of things where you are but that is what I would do. No animosity or anything "fine, just sell me the horse for a quid and I'll deal with it". But I can't be dealing with selling a horse that isn't mine and having repercussions later for it.
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post #3 of 6 Old 06-23-2018, 02:08 PM
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Talk to a lawyer. In some states, possession for a certain length of time = ownership. I would also think the laws pertaining to boarding stables would also apply here-- in most cases, a horse not paid for is considered abandoned after 30 - 60 days and can then be sold/disposed of. Was there any sort of written agreement that the horses would be gone by a certain time? Text or emails at least? Will they sell you the horse for $1 (write up a legal bill of sale) and then you can sell the horse?

In any case, a certified letter sent to the daughter stating that the horse must be removed by such and such a date (30 days or so) is probably needed. If she fails to respond or comply, the law will generally side with the landowner as the horse will be considered abandoned. I'd also send her a bill for back board... that may get things moving, too.
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post #4 of 6 Old 06-23-2018, 02:30 PM
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Sounds like abandonment to me...
The only thing that needs clarification is who has provided their hay and is it still being provided for the remaining horse...
You've reached out numerous times, hopefully documented to the rightful owner {daughter} who ignores correspondence sent...
{is she a legal adult in age otherwise a parent/guardian needs involvement still.}
To me that tells of not being responsible or caring about the future of the animal...
With all the laws being so state oriented and particular, I would consult legal counsel so all is done above board and legal if the horse is removed and sold...
Financial compensation owed for time spent caring for the animal{s} is indeed to go about placing a lien against the horse, doing a purchase and ownership transfer so those now in care of the animal can find a new home for the animal...
You might be able to get some information from your county animal services but they might not know the true legal steps needed to take to gain ownership so selling/re-homing can then take place legally...
Legal action is though what is whatever the end result, but a removal of responsibility to your family members.

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post #5 of 6 Old 06-23-2018, 02:59 PM
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My take is slightly different on this with regard to the daughter. Initially, your parents had a “contract” (for want of a better word) with the friend. The friend initially brought ‘x’ number of horses, under his care, in for temporary placement as agreed and he therefore needs to take ‘x’ number of horses out to end the contract.

Your parents should not let the friend/daughter stand off (or whatever is going on) become their problem — that aspect must remain with the friend. So, whatever action your parents decide on should be concentrated on the friend. That means once the avenues mentioned above by other posters have been investigated and an action plan (or ok from authorities, etc) is at hand they continue to pursue the friend. From what you have said it would be unlikely they will get a positive response from the friend meaning the ugly part of the plan kicks in where the horse is seized or turned over to animal welfare or whatever is dictated by legal convention.

I just hope it doesn’t end up poorly for the horse.
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post #6 of 6 Old 06-23-2018, 06:40 PM
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Here's a link to Utah's Agister's Lien procedures:

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