I got a two year old filly in to break for a new client on April 1st. I picked her up from her breeder for him and brought her to my training center. May 1st he says he lost his partner on the horse and can't afford to continue her training. We agreed to put her on layup board until he figured out what he was going to do with her. I got paid for April and haven't been paid since. A while back he told me he got laid off from his job but was working on selling her. The last time I talked to him he had been in the hospital for five days. He did not say why. Today his phone is disconnected. For all I know he is dead.
I contacted the breeder and told her of my plight and she agreed to let me bring the filly there. She knows she would not be the legal owner by accepting the filly. She is doing it just to help me out as I have put out a couple thousand of my own money so far caring for her and can't afford to continue to do that. I plan to take the filly there tomorrow after taking pictures to document her condition. She looks great, she hasn't missed a meal or a worming. She is about two weeks over due on her trim. I would then send a registered letter to the owners house stating where the horse was and why I took her there along with the pictures of her condition.
Not that it matters but I believe this is a good guy who would pay me the money if he had it. Even if I took him to small claims court I am not sure that would help me out any. I guess it could help me prove what is owed to me if the horse ever is sold.
Does anyone have any comments or suggestions? Its not a done deal yet so there is still time to do something different if somebody has a great idea for another way to handle it. Thanks!
Last edited by Laurierace; Nov. 29, 2010 at 04:02 PM.
This sounds like you have a good handle on a bad situation. Your plan sounds excellent, cover your backside (no good deed goes unpunished and all that). THank you for doing what is right for the horse despite her circumstances.............you are a true horseman.
Iron horse farm, who says the breeder is going to do right by this filly, and not ship her?
That aside, I understand you don't own this filly, but I would want to know what your state's laws are regarding deposition of a horse for back board, etc.
In other words, you might not be 'legally' doing the right thing, and it could come back to bite you. OTOH, it seems that sometimes we do things outside of the law due to the expense, etc of keeping a horse.
I would want to know what the laws are before I moved a horse that wasn't legally mine, just to be on the safe side in case this heads south. For example, guy comes back, breeder 'sold' the horse...ahe, thats a problem.
The owner has the papers so she can not be sold as a registered TB anyway. I know that I could possibly not be following the letter of the law but will have to take that risk as I can not afford another month or more of expenses on her. I assume I will never get paid so based on that assumption I need to stop the bleeding financially. I did get permission to move her from the training center to field board at another facility. I never told him where that field was. For all he knows that could be the breeder's field no?
I don't know the laws today and where you are, but when we were training racers, our contract specified that, if we were not paid for so long or past such figure, we owned the horse and could sell it to recoup what was owed on the bill.
That was according to state law.
Certified letters were sent and the horse recorded with the sheriff's office, if I remember well.
Maybe you ought to check with the JC and an attorney, before doing something you are not supposed to do.
Without the papers the horse has no value. I am not sure she has much value with the papers either but that is another story. Maybe I should have the breeder bill me for board at her farm and I add that onto what he owes me? Knowing full well I am not going to pay myself. If I ever did collect from him I would give her what she was owed.
You guys got me to modify my plan somewhat. I am going to send the letter first and once I have proof that it has been received, then I will move her to the other farm. That should only be a few days I would think. What's an extra $60 on top of everything else he already owes me?
I agree with ppers: find out legally what you can do. Best case scenario- the owner will not come forward and you'll have unloaded the horse and only be out the money he owes up to now. Worse case- he answers the letter, still doesn't come for his horse, or pay.
I was in this situation a few years ago. Owner had 6 horses at my place at different care levels. Paid for 2 years every month. One day- disappeared. Left the track, left her home (rented), left her horses. After months of court battles and a loss of $62,000 - I was "allowed" to give away her horses for free (they were worthless to sell). Lesson learned: Even though you may get a judgement- doesn't actually mean you'll get the money!
Good luck- it's wonderful the breeder is going to take her back for you!
I hate being in that situation. Glad the horse has an out, poor things end up in the middle all the time it seems.
Good luck with it Laurie. I had this happen to me with a guy who seemed to be a pretty upstanding owner.
Won't bore you with the details, but I had to get nasty to get the back bill paid. He simply was making no effort at all to pay me for his layup (that I was doing for cost to help the horse out), while telling me grand stories about racing at the higher end tracks. (he had several horses in training and racing at the time) I finally threatened to go to the stewards and complain. He got pissed, but he paid.
Then fast forward to 6 weeksafter that blow out, my vet sends me a bill for this guy from 5 months earlier with a nasty note. He hadn't paid him either!
No good deed goes unpunished. Get out from under asap.
Here are the "liveryman's lien" laws for Maryland:
§ 16-401. Lien for care and custody.
(a) Creation of lien.- The owner or operator of a livery stable or other establishment who gives care or custody to any livestock has a lien on the livestock for any reasonable charge incurred for:
(1) Board and custody;
(3) Veterinarians' and blacksmiths' services; and
(4) Other proper maintenance expenses.
(b) Sale of livestock.- If the charges which give rise to the lien are due and unpaid for 30 days and the lienor is in possession of the livestock, the lienor may sell the livestock to which the lien attaches at public sale.
(c) Notice of sale.-
(1) The lienor shall publish notice of the sale once a week for two successive weeks in one or more newspapers of general circulation in the county where thelivestock is located.
(2) In addition, the lienor shall send notice by registered or certified mail at least 30 days before the sale to the owner of the livestock at his last known address. If the owner's address is unknown, the notice may be given by posting it on the door of the courthouse or on a bulletin board in the immediate vicinity of the door of the courthouse of the county where the livestock is located.
(d) Application of proceeds.-
(1) The proceeds of the sale shall be applied, in the following order, to:
(i) The expenses of the sale; and
(ii) The amount of the lien claim.
(2) After application of the proceeds in accordance with paragraph (1) of this subsection, any remaining balance shall be paid to the owner of the livestock.
Just a thought - in case he has passed away, a check of the death notices and public notices in the newspapers of record for the owner's home will let you know if he's passed away, and who is handling probate. When my mom died we had to put a notice in the local paper advising any creditors that they had so many days (30?) to file a claim against her estate.
I had a similar situation, horse I sold with payments, guy stopped paying after half, fell off the face of the earth. Worried about the horse until I got a call from a training farm that had been similarly left hanging - at that point I had no situation to bring the horse home and these people could - like it sounds you could - get him to the track IF they had the papers. I signed him over to them, and he went on to win $120K. Niether of us had any contact again with the "owner" -
But I guess in this case, the difference was, I still had the papers, and was easily able to see the best thing was to just let the horse go to the people who could do right by him.
I guess I'm just wondering if you put the message out to this guy somehow, all you are asking is he signs & mails the papers, and then you wouldn't go after more money - maybe those papers would miraculously show up in your mailbox.