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Spring
Aug. 3, 2011, 02:56 PM
I have had a boarder for a while now who has gotten behind on the board for several reasons. She always has an explanation and always comes through until now. This will be the third month not paying full board on two horses. I have tried to communicate with her to no avail. My contract states that after 90 days of non payment the horses can be sold. Of course these horses are not worth anything [wouldn't you know?] but I do believe I can get enough to cover what is owed between the two. I was suspicious when she took her horse trailer with living quarters and then her saddle. The story was that the trailer needed repairs; the saddle was needed to go and try a sale horse....nothing much else of value was left behind. In over 20 years of doing this I have never had this happen and feel very betrayed and foolish to have believed all the stories and explanations but I am determined to recoup my money and do not believe that they will come for the horses in any case.
Has anyone ever done this? Are there steps I must follow? Any advice is welcomed.

GoForAGallop
Aug. 3, 2011, 03:22 PM
No matter what your contract says, you need to follow the "stablemans lein" rules of your state or you could be in big trouble and she could easily sue and win. It usually involves something like a registered letter to the deadbeat, and then notices posted (newspaper, town website, somewhere public) about a "public auction" of the property. You're not allowed to just say "Oh, okay, 90 days, the horses are mine, I'm selling them to Susy for $5k."

candyappy
Aug. 3, 2011, 03:34 PM
The above advice is what I would do.

LauraKY
Aug. 3, 2011, 04:17 PM
Why don't you ask her to pick them up...then just sue her in small claims court for the back board.

Guilherme
Aug. 3, 2011, 04:31 PM
If you run a regular business then consult with your lawyer and find out what you need to do. In most states there is a lien statute and it must be strictly followed our you can end up in trouble.

Yeah, that lawyer consult will cost you some money. But it will be a whole lot less than defending yourself against a claim of conversion or theft.

G.

gumtree
Aug. 3, 2011, 09:20 PM
Only ninty days on 1 horse consider yourself lucky. Every state is a bit different as pointed out. For the most part in every state until you have title to the horse either given by the owner or by court order you can not do anything but give it care and feed until you do. A night mare trust me. Perhaps that's where the term came from. If the horse is worth a lot less then money owed I would take the "nice" approach and offer to let her take the horse and work out a payment plan. If she does not hold to it then sue. You will get a judgement but that does not get you money owed. But at least you are not feeding it. And there is a lot to be said for that. Guilherme is right, but you are only owed 90 days at this point and talking to a lawyer and starting legal proceedings will most likely cost you more. Getting a judgement will get you money owed, if collectable, but most likely not legal cost, interest and the care and feeding from the time you file. I have never know a person to walk away from a horse that is worth more then the money owed.

Horses, its what I do for a living not a hobby

airhorse
Aug. 3, 2011, 09:54 PM
Additionally, any proceeds from auction beyond what is owed must be given to the owner.

Even if owner walks away, you must go through the aforementioned process, unless the owner transfers ownership to you.

As always, consult a lawyer to get your states agister lien rules.

http://asci.uvm.edu/equine/law/lien/lien.htm

OverandOnward
Aug. 3, 2011, 10:10 PM
Can the barn owner move the horses out of sight to prevent the horse owner from taking them away? Remove them from the property? What rights does the barn owner have over control of the horses while the paperwork is being done?

If selling them is the barn owner's only means of recouping the lost board, perhaps she does not want to see them go until the board is settled. Although if selling is not the most cost-effective option then I can see that the barn owner would want them gone asap.

My guess would be that someone who can't pay the board probably can't pay a judgment, either ... and selling is likely the only way to get the money back. Is that other barn owners' experience?

Not a barn owner myself, but these days, businesses generally are not allowing unpaid accounts to continue for very long. Some landlords have become quick to evict once a rent is past due. They have found that once what is owed is starting to add up, there is less chance it will ever be paid in full.

IntegritySporthorses
Aug. 3, 2011, 10:22 PM
No matter what your contract says, you need to follow the "stablemans lein" rules of your state or you could be in big trouble and she could easily sue and win. It usually involves something like a registered letter to the deadbeat, and then notices posted (newspaper, town website, somewhere public) about a "public auction" of the property. You're not allowed to just say "Oh, okay, 90 days, the horses are mine, I'm selling them to Susy for $5k."

I am going thru the EXACT same thing right now. My contract doesn't have a clause. In TX, 60 days past due = stableman's lein and you send a certified letter and then take the horses to sale. The way my attorney explained it to me, if you DO have that clause in your contract and the owner signs it, then they agree to it and you don't have to bother with the stableman's lein. She actually said I could put a 30 day clause in there and not have to wait until the boarder is 60 days past due. I am sure each state is different so do consult an attorney in your state to be sure. It's very much worth the consult fee.

But, of course that doesn't apply to me since I have no clause in my contract and now I'm just trying to get the horses moved. My boarder is *only* 30 days behind at the moment but I can't seem to get her to move her damn horses :mad:

I will be adding a 30 day clause to my contract!

coloredcowhorse
Aug. 3, 2011, 10:24 PM
In NV it is a misdemeanor to remove a horse from a board situation where there are funds owed on the board....the barn owner/ranch owner automatically has a lien on the animal that is boarded and only needs to go through the foreclosure process (certified letter/return receipt to last known address of owner, publication in largest newspaper in the county in which the horse is boarded, public notice in public place within that county (both with time constraints) and then filing for sheriffs auction and here you have to have the brand inspector involved as well)...the person owed the board has the option of bidding (can open bidding with the amount owed which can include costs of foreclosure process plus care to that point for the animal(s))..if no one bids higher then the property owner/board provider owns the horse(s) and the brand inspector will fill out brand card for the new owner (only proof of ownership in this state). If registered you can go to the court clerk and get a "satisfaction of lien" form, fill in info as known...preferably registered name and number, previous owners name etc...and send copies to the registry. They will contact registered owner if possible requesting paperwork be returned to the registry within a time frame. If owner complies then the registry will reissue papers to the new owner. If the old owner fails to comply the registry can issue new papers in the new owners name and suspend the previous person. All this takes time during which the horse has to be cared for of course. Failure to do whatever is required in your state can make it into a horse theft case and these are often felonies due to the sudden value stated for the animals.

baysngreys
Aug. 5, 2011, 04:45 PM
Yes, I've had to put a lien a horse (pony actually). It took a long time to go thru the courts.
I was out of pocket for feed, trim and vet care for several more months in addition to the board owed.

I should have let them take the pony, got them to sign a payment agreement and then, when they defaulted, taken them to small claims court.

All said and done, I sold the pony for far less than I had in to him after 9 months.
If you stop feeding or caring for the horse while he's on you property or in your custody, you're now the one in trouble!

GoForAGallop
Aug. 5, 2011, 04:54 PM
Can the barn owner move the horses out of sight to prevent the horse owner from taking them away? Remove them from the property? What rights does the barn owner have over control of the horses while the paperwork is being done?

If selling them is the barn owner's only means of recouping the lost board, perhaps she does not want to see them go until the board is settled. l.

No. Because the horses are not owned by the barn owner, they have no right to move them. The horse owner could sue and make a case that they were stolen, and win. The barn owner is not even allowed to prevent the horse owner from removing the horses.

The only right the barn owner has is to keep sending certified letters/take the owner to court for the back board. I suppose you can stop caring for the horses, too, but who has the heart to do that?

Spring
Aug. 5, 2011, 05:27 PM
Well, I sent the certified letter today. The fellow at the Post Office said that they would try to deliver it but if it were to be refused, the letter will be returned to me and would be evidence in court. Unfortunately, I have now learned that they are being sued for fraud in their business so my hopes for payment in full are fading quickly. I will not pay for farrier care and can put the horses out in a back field where they will be fed and checked on but I think that if they offer to come and get them, I will let them go with a promissory note signed.
Most of the horses here are very high quality and would not be abandoned. I should have forseen this but was blinded by all the sad stories and explanantions. I have tried to call around regarding the lien law in NC but it seems that after 30 days one can start the process. I have been far too patient! I hope NC law is like the one in Texas and is automatic with the clause in my contract. I will check with a lawyer on Monday. Thanks for the help.

CosMonster
Aug. 5, 2011, 09:56 PM
I suppose you can stop caring for the horses, too, but who has the heart to do that?

In my state and I'm guessing most states, if the horses are on your property you do have to continue to care for them. In fact I'm going through this process right now with a horse who colicked, and my lawyer (FIL so fortunately I could call him at 7 PM ;)) told me that I even had to do every reasonable measure to save the horse--no "bill is getting too high, so let's euth." Fortunately the horse recovered (and honestly I probably would have euth'd past a certain point as he is not a high dollar animal) but it was immensely stressful, especially because at one point my vet was talking about surgery. :eek: And I'm still stuck with the bill and rehab (he lost a ton of weight because he wasn't really eating right for a week afterward and is a hard-keeping TB anyway), and probably will never get that money back. At this point I'm halfway considering just keeping him because he is fun to ride and I've already spent so much money on him... :lol:

It really stinks when people do this, as generally it results in a huge PITA and IME you rarely get your money back. :no: Sorry you're dealing with it, OP. I don't really have a whole lot more to add to the advice that's been given.

Wayside
Aug. 5, 2011, 10:35 PM
Can the barn owner move the horses out of sight to prevent the horse owner from taking them away?

In my experience, there's no reason to try to keep the owners from taking their horses. Even if they're far behind in board payments, hanging on to the horses generally doesn't help produce payments, and just gets the barn owner farther in the hole caring for them. You're better off cutting your losses and just getting them off your feed bill.

IntegritySporthorses
Aug. 6, 2011, 12:54 PM
In my state and I'm guessing most states, if the horses are on your property you do have to continue to care for them. In fact I'm going through this process right now with a horse who colicked, and my lawyer (FIL so fortunately I could call him at 7 PM ;)) told me that I even had to do every reasonable measure to save the horse--no "bill is getting too high, so let's euth."

While this is true, I flat told my boarder who isn't paying me that I would have trouble finding a vet to work on her horses in an emergency since my vet knows that she doesn't pay her bills...

It stinks all the way around. :no: Hopefully mine will be leaving this weekend and I'll have learned a very expensive lesson about screening boarders.

Guilherme
Aug. 6, 2011, 04:19 PM
No. Because the horses are not owned by the barn owner, they have no right to move them. The horse owner could sue and make a case that they were stolen, and win. The barn owner is not even allowed to prevent the horse owner from removing the horses.

The only right the barn owner has is to keep sending certified letters/take the owner to court for the back board. I suppose you can stop caring for the horses, too, but who has the heart to do that?

This is dependent upon where you live.

You can move them on the premises wherever you want to. If that's a difficult to access paddock then I don't see a problem. Moving them off the premises can be an issue. Talk to your attorney, first.

The barn owner has the right to protect their lien interest in most cases. This means they may lock the horse up if they want to (the same way a mechanic can lock up a car that the owner refuses to pay for repairs on). If the owner appears and tries to remove the horse then call 911 and make a "theft in progress" complaint as the owner is attempting to regain possession over the agister's lien holder. In most places that will be considered "theft."

Personally, I'd not use any force to prevent a removal. I'd not assist them, either. I could even make it difficult (closing gates, putting a tractor in the middle of the drive, etc.). Anything to delay the process until the police arrive.

If the owner regains unchallenged possession then the possessory lien is lost. If they take possession against the will of the lien holder you've got a colorable criminal claim.

Again, before you take any action discuss this with your local attorney.


G.

CosMonster
Aug. 6, 2011, 05:07 PM
While this is true, I flat told my boarder who isn't paying me that I would have trouble finding a vet to work on her horses in an emergency since my vet knows that she doesn't pay her bills...

It stinks all the way around. :no: Hopefully mine will be leaving this weekend and I'll have learned a very expensive lesson about screening boarders.

Yeah, I should have said that I started the lien process on this horse prior to him getting sick (owners had received certified letter, and were still within their time to respond), which put me in a position of more responsibility but not yet full ownership. Or at least that's how I understood it on the phone when I hadn't slept properly in 2 days (because I'd been up every couple of hours checking on the horse) and my vet was talking about surgery on a horse who is worth probably $3k tops and whose owners already owe me around $900... ;) If it is just a delinquent boarder you aren't obligated to do more than minimum standards of care for as long as the horse is on your property.

Hope your delinquent boarder does get out of there quick! Though I have to say, I screen my boarders pretty carefully and I've still had to go through this process 3 times in the last 8 years. I know someone who doesn't screen at all and he does it about 2-3 times a year! :eek: We live in a very poor area so it might be more common here than in other places, but it seems like some people hit hard times and decide it's easiest just to let someone else clean up their mess. :no:

BanjosMamma
Jul. 16, 2012, 05:49 PM
This has happened to me...I had no written or oral agreement with the farm owner as far as board went. My husband was the farm caretaker for three years and my horse stayed there free of charge for the whole time. The farm owner knew that we were in a tight spot when he fired my husband and evicted us, and told us that my horse could stay there "awhile". It has been three months, and I have tried constantly to contact him and his wife during that time, with no reply. During the three months..I had no real address and did not get any mail delivered, so I would never have gotten a certified letter if he sent one.
I filed criminal theft charges..but I am worried sick that I may not have a leg to stand on here.

PRS
Jul. 18, 2012, 03:40 PM
This might help:
http://asci.uvm.edu/equine/law/lien/nc_lien.htm