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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There's a really tricky situation at a barn near me; a beautiful arabian paint has been boarding there for at least four years, the problem is that her owner comes at most twice a year, and pays less than half of what is in the contract. I looked at the file (I am a manager there of sorts, it's complicated) and there is a signature on the board contract, but a lot of blanks aren't filled out. I don't know the laws for boarding contracts or neglect for that matter, but this horse is gorgeous and I feel terrible for her, she's very friendly with gorgeous kind and intellegent eyes. Is there a point when the owner of the barn would get legal rights to this mare???:confused:
 

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Depending on the state, the farm can put a lein on the horse. Which means the farm has the right to auction the horse off to recover lost board. This depends entirely on what state you are in and what is in the original contract. You need to look at the lein laws in your state. Also the boarder may need to be sent a certified letter about what is owed so she has the option to pay up. .
 

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There’s questions I have from your post. Who signed the contract? Why is it complicated with your ‘manager’ position - the barn owner has either given you the position or he/she hasn’t (and in that case tread carefully in your actions). Have you been specifically and clearly tasked with collecting delinquent accounts (and again tread carefully if you have not - this sort of thing can come back to bite you in the butt big time).
 

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I agree with @Chevaux this may not be your business, and there may be more to the story than you know. Otherwise, why would the barn owner allow a hrose to stay for 4 years when the owner is not paying the board correctly?

Is the horse actually being neglected, or just not getting ridden. I know a lot of horses can easily survive not being ridden more than twice a year, and happily so.
 

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If the BO isn't going after her for back payment, there's nothing you can do.


The only recourse is for the BO to contact her and tell her to pay up. If she doesn't, then the BO can put a lien on the animal. However, the animal has to be sold at public auction not by a private sale, so if you have a desire to own this horse, you'd have to bid like everyone else.
 

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If the horse has been there "at least 4 years" and has access to food and water, is healthy, feet are in good shape, gets turn out and is exercised (even if self) there is no neglect. I would assume this is something the barn owner is well aware of and for some reason is allowing. Unless collecting the board and enforcing the contract is your job then not your business. If it is a part of your job description then asking the barn owner for direction would be your next step.

ETA For years I (pasture)boarded a horse for a friend. No money exchanged hand though the basic contract was signed. We had a verbal agreement that I could use him as a stud if I saw fit and she would sign any and all paperwork regarding breeding as long as I filled it out and paid the fees. She was liquidating most of her herd for personal reasons and wanted to be able to keep this horse as a stallion - at the time he came here he was 6 months old. Had she chosen to keep him and pick him up she would owe for any training put on him. 4 years later he was gelded and she transferred ownership as she decided to keep the stallion she had and did not need him for her trail string. As long as she understood he would be gelded if she didn't come get him then we could have keep on with the status quo indefinitely. I also had an agreement with a family member where a contract was signed but they only sent money for vet care, farrier work and hay during the winter if I asked for it. It happens. Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances or alternate agreements made when something comes up. My husband had no clue so when he decided he needed to go through the paperwork the one year he attempted to do taxes I thought I would never hear the end of it. My business, my choice. When we hit a rough patch financially I had a private arrangement with the riding instructor. We had a signed contract that showed the standard price. Her accountant knew that I paid cash directly to her at a different fee. It was an arrangement that I appreciated but part of the agreement was that I would not share the price I paid with anyone. If someone asked what we paid I always gave the standard fee as the answer.
 

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There's SO much that's not in your post. If the BO has been letting her pay 1/2 board for some time, then it can be argued that she has agreed to lesser board and the boarder doesn't owe anything. A lot of that will depend on what kind of communications there are between the owner and the horse owner. She may have gotten kind of 'squatter's rights' by paying less over time. Whether she comes out and visits the horse or not is none of your business, as long as the horse is fed, watered, stall picked and its physical needs are met, you're doing your job. It's up to the owner to do something with the horse and if she can't or won't, it's her choice, her property.

In many states the BO must send a certified letter, return receipt, publish in the newspaper that the bill is delinquent and the horse must be sold at public auction to collect what's owed. A lot of BOs are too tenderhearted for that and keep on feeding the horse until the owner just signs it over, at which point they can sell. None of this should involve you, unless the BO has asked you to try and get money, send the letter, publish in the paper or file the court paperwork. The barn owner accepted the paperwork incomplete, so likely it would be tossed out in court.

If you want to buy the horse, maybe tell the BO you'll pay the back board if the horse owner will give you a bill of sale relinquishing all rights to the horse in exchange for you curing her delinquency. Don't hold your breath.
 

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I believe the only other legal option, depending on state is to have the owner sign the horse over to the barn owner or to to have the owner agree to have the horse "work" off the board and then the horse gets used for lessons (if that is even an option). I know that in Maine an owner can surrender the horse to the barn owner and the BO can do as they please with the horse.
 

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manager of sorts is an odd statement.


The laws are different depending on where you are but if she is making an attempt to pay and the barn owner isn't pursuing any type of action then really it falls under the "none of your business" category UNLESS the BO specifically asked you to review the contracts and the money coming in and out. As for reviewing of the contracts when you are a "manager of sorts", that has warning bells ringing because if you are not an actual employee of the barn then you are looking at privacy issues with you looking into things that fall under the "none of your business" category.


As far as the owner only coming out once or twice a year... If the horse is cared for and healthy then it really is "none of your business". It's not neglect to buy a horse and then put it in a boarding facility where it is cared for and never ride it or come to see it. It's not cruel or unusual punishment if the horse is cared for and getting plenty of turn out time. It may seem like a waste of horse to the rest of the horse community but it's really "none of our business"....
 

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To specifically answer the question: Unless she lives in a subdivision where there are agreements between the homeowner and the HOA as to what can be kept and whether private boarding on your property is allowed, then, there are no laws that say you have have to have contracts or that you have to enforce contracts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I am a minor, and it is me and three or four other "regulars" (also minors) who essentially give all the care to the horses and keep them exercised. The owner of the barn has sever problems with organization and memory, and so we try our best to keep things up to date, and are at the barn more than the owner herself. The horse in question was underweight, but it was easy for us to give her a little extra feed, which helped a lot. Her hooves were really bad for a while, but then they started 'self-trimming' which is what horses in the wild do. Neither the owner of the horse nor the owner of the farm have enough money to persue the matter in court, nor do I think they care enough to. It isn't entirely my buisness, but it kills me to see such a spunky and people oriented mare be given less care and attention because of the absence of her owner.
 

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Why don't you ask the barn owner what is up?
 
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