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Should I pay all or part of this vet bill?

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  • Should I pay all or part of this vet bill?

    I run a small boarding facility and I teach some lessons as well. One of my boarders asked me to use her horse for lessons since she has no time to ride, as a favor to her. I voluntarily chose to compensate her (she never asked for any $$) by deducting $$ from her board for every lesson I use her horse which adds up to typically 1/3 to 1/2 of her board every month (almost $1,000 so far this year). No contract, just an oral agreement to use the horse and she's been thrilled how good her horse looks because he's fit and in shape.

    A few weeks ago, her horse snuck into the barn as another horse was being led in and ran into his stall. When we went to retrieve him, he bolted out of his stall and wiped out in the aisle and went down. He jumped up and continued out the door and ran behind the barn. When I caught up to him, he was holding a hind leg up and shaking a bit. I looked at this leg and he had a nice case of road rash on his fetlock, which I'm sure stung, and a couple other knicks and scrapes. Because of how he fell, my first through was, "Oh geez! I hope he didn't break his pelvis!!" (initial reaction of any horse person when a horse goes down). I poked and prodded his hips and pelvis and he did not react. He only said "Ow" when I was cleaning and treating his road rash.

    We gave him Bute and put him on stall rest for a few days. His one leg with road rash did swell up a bit, but he seemed fine otherwise. The cuts have healed and the swelling is gone.

    It's been 2 weeks and he's still "off" behind. He looks like he has something going on up high, as he walks like a horse with a sore stifle and it hasn't really improved over time. I think a call to the vet is in order.

    The lady who owns him has never asked for any vet fee compensation for anything, to include this injury, but a third party said I should pay at least part of the vet bill since I'm the only one who uses him.

    I am of the opinion that if I had done something to injure him while being ridden that yes, I would offer compensation, but this is an injury that would have happened whether I used the horse or not and is just one of those injuries that horse owners have to deal with. I feel I have already compensated her for the use of the horse with saving her $1,000 so far this year; if she hadn't already been compensated for use, I might be more inclined to pay part of the bill.

    I don't want to sound like a "cheap ass", but my boarding and lesson operation is very small scale so there isn't much financial surplus once the bills are paid.

    Thoughts? Opinions?

  • #2
    I guess it would depend on how he "snuck" back in.

    If you or an employee didn't shut a gate, or if it's standard practice to just let them run in and out, I'd say, because likely you make more from using the horse than you comp your boarder for (and that's ok) you should pay at least part of the vet bill.

    If he jumped the fence, then no, it isn't your responsibility. If another boarder didn't shut a gate, then that person should pay part of the bill.

    I wouldn't run a public facility where horses could just walk in and out of the barn aisle when ever they wanted, that is an accident waiting to happen.

    Comment


    • #3
      I would think you should pay ALL the vet bill. 1) You are using this horse as a lesson horse so are getting 100% of use to make money in your program 2) You or worker/helper allowed horse to run into barn and then bolt out of stall, your mistake .

      Very careless to allow loose horse to run in/through barn. Sounds to me like some less than good horse handling.
      "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin

      Comment


      • #4
        I agree. Someone let this horse follow them into the barn. He may have snuck out the gate when the first horse was taken through, but that should have been dealt with right then. As in, put the first horse back in the paddock, close and latch it, and then go get the horse which escaped and put him back in the paddock. He couldn't have followed the first horse into the barn unless allowed. Granted, he could have run up to the barn and run around inside, having escaped, but he wouldn't have followed a lead horse into the barn, because good horse management would not have allowed him to accompany the first horse to the barn. Good horse managment would have put the first horse back rigtht away to attend to the escapee. Because loose horses are not allowed to get out of paddocks or remain loose. Get it? Hope I explained it, but its the fault of the person who let him get out of his paddock, not to have caught him and put him back, and to have allowed him to get out of the paddock to begin with. If that was you or your personnel, as you seem to feel you are responsible, you should pay, in my opinion.

        Better horse management is in order, imo.
        My warmbloods have actually drunk mulled wine in the past. Not today though. A drunk warmblood is a surly warmblood. - WildandWickedWarmbloods

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          The design of the property I lease has the barn set in the field with no separate turnout fencing. Imagine a box within a box. In other words, you walk out the door and you are in the turnout field. The only fencing is the 3 board oak that is around the perimeter of the field and the fencing around the arena, which is also in the field, away from the barn. There are 5 horses total.

          Horses are NOT allowed to run in and out of their own free will. They are led in and out with a halter every time.

          Another boarder was leading her horse into the barn when this horse bolted into the barn, running into the boarder's horse in the process and into his stall. It was dealt with ASAP, but when you've got your own horse you're leading freaked out because it was just rear ended by another horse that bolted into it from seemingly no-where, it's hard to do something about the loose horse who by this time is in his stall.

          I'm in an area that is rapidly being overtaken by McMansions and rampant development. Farms are disappearing rapidly, so finding a new facility isn't really an option because there aren't any available.

          The horse has been boarded here for 8 years.

          Comment


          • #6
            Well, I *don't* think you should pay the vet bill. Certainly not because you are using the horse in lessons. As you say, the horse was not injured while in a lesson (which, I'd agree, I'd think you might want to pay then). The owner is being compensated for the lesson use; this is not a lease whereby you've agreed to take on vet bills.

            With your new information, I also don't think it sounds like there's negligence involved with the horse getting into the barn.
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            • #7
              Well, that explains it.

              Though why you can't put a gate at each end of the barn, or something to keep the "turned out" horses actually turned out, I have no idea.

              I guess if a turned out horse had gone into his stall, I'd probably have just made sure he had water in there and shut the door, then led him out properly later on when things had quieted down.

              It's pretty easy to imagine someone being pissed off at the horse for bulldozing the other one, and going into his stall to "shoo" him out. Also easy to imagine the result. Not saying that's how it happened, but, based on your set up, it isn't too hard to make that leap.

              You're lucky that all you have is a horse that's "off". While things can go horribly wrong even in the most perfect setting, that is a very dangerous arrangement for a public barn. I wouldn't do it at home, probably, not without a way to keep them out when I needed to.

              I guess only you know what happened and if your boarder's horse has been there for 8 years, it isn't like she doesn't know what the set up is. But... you get far more "actual income" from her horse than she get's "discount". I taught lessons at a barn where I boarded. BO offered a "discount", I preferred to pay my entire board bill and she wrote me a check for my percentage of the lessons I taught. That way, I felt like BO wasn't going to "discount" the care/feed my horse got and I got a little $$ in my pocket.

              I guess if I were you and I still needed him as a school horse, I'd probably step up and offer to cover the bill, unless it was something extraordinary. If it's just diagnostics and an injection or two, I'd offer to pay. If you don't, you may lose both a school horse and a client. "Oh, I guess since now he's lame and you can't use him, you don't care that he's hurt?" I can see the horse owner saying just that.

              Comment


              • #8
                You should have a written contract in place outlining your arrangement for using the horse and who is responsible for what, and how long. I recently had my daughter's horse out on lease to a school horse program, and he got injured very badly. I had not looked carefully at the fine print in the contract. The only vet work they were responsible for was "routine" and I've gotten stuck with all the vet bills and 12 month rehab and a horse who will never be rideable again. The barn covered themselves well, LOL!

                My suggestion is that you give her some sort of board credit to help with the vet bill(s). I board a few horses and last year I had one turned out in the arena in winter, and he started running wildly and needed to come in. I sent my teen daughter out to catch him, she took a bucket of hay pellets out to get his attention and get him caught. He bolted a bite or two and immediately began to choke badly. Vet out, treated, all that. I covered the vet bill not directly but by comping the boarders 1 month of board because I felt that the incident was in part due to my own negligence.

                Good luck. Get it sorted out NOW. Don't wait. Because if the vet diagnoses a big problem the owner is going to be very worked up about it. Better to have things hammered out ASAP. Comp her some board and stay out of paying the vet bills directly.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I think the horse's injury goes in the "sh!t happens" pile, which HOs pay for.... unless the barn staff was grossly negligent and the BO is a stand-up person.

                  Let the HO pay for the vet bill, as much as it sucks. The problem occurred while the horse was being on the farm in general rather than in a lesson. She picked the facility and the people running it, so technically she assumed the risk.

                  That said, you do benefit from using the horse. Yes, she gets $1K off per year in board, but you have to admit that it would cost you much more to own the lesson horse.

                  With this in mind, offer to be part of the team effort to treat the injuries. For example, don't charge her for handwalking that needs to be done or whatever. That can be your contribution to helping put the horse you use back together. If the HO doesn't ride because she's busy, I think that effort from you will go a long way to keeping her happy and your lesson deal intact.
                  The armchair saddler
                  Politically Pro-Cat

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    With the new information, I agree that this sounds like your basic stupid horse thing.

                    Would you pay for the vet bill for any other horse that got injured in this way? If the answer is no, then no - you should not pay this one either. The owner is already being compensated satisfactorily for your using the horse in lessons.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      As the boarder I'd prefer to see you use some funds to build a fence around the barn.
                      www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                      chaque pas est fait ensemble

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I boarded a lease horse at a barn with a similar design. BO solved this potential problem by installing a regular metal gate where the barn doors should have been which separated the barn from the turnout area. This may be a simple solution for you to avoid something like this happening again.

                        I agree that this is a "sh*t happens" horse silliness situation and as a boarder would not have expected you to foot the bill. However it would be a nice gesture for you to do all or at least part of the horses care while he is out of action since you use him in lessons.
                        "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
                        "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by S1969 View Post
                          With the new information, I agree that this sounds like your basic stupid horse thing.

                          Would you pay for the vet bill for any other horse that got injured in this way? If the answer is no, then no - you should not pay this one either. The owner is already being compensated satisfactorily for your using the horse in lessons.
                          This. The fact that you use this horse in lessons is completely irrelevant to the issue at hand. It is a completely separate business arrangement and has nothing to do with the fact that this horse behaved like an idiot. (Everyone can pick at the arrangement all they want, but the horse has been there for eight years, everyone knows what's up.) The woman is already being compensated for the use, she was previously happy with the arrangement, it should not come into play now that the horse is injured.


                          I guess the only scenario in which I would suggest paying vet bills on this horse would be if you are going to lose a huge chunk of business because he is out of commission and the owner is not going to pay for the vet visit to find out what's wrong. But I would make it perfectly clear that you are paying not because you are at fault.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I like the idea of doing the rehab work for free. I am a little concerned about the precedent of paying for a horse with "Oh Sh*t" injuries although if I boarded my horse there and that occurred, I may go "Wow this could be a dangerous set up" and start looking at other better set up options.

                            I think you need to come up with a way to keep this from happening again, I would put up an electrobraid interior fence with a separate gate before you get to the barn.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I think you're talking about apples & oranges here.

                              It sounds like you want to weasel out of any responsibility for this horse's accident/injury because you're using it in lessons & compensating the owner for that privilege. One has absolutely ZERO to do with the other.

                              You have an unsafe setup, & because of it, a boarder's horse now has an injury resulting in lameness that the severity of which, at this time, is "undetermined". Sorry, but I don't go with the "sh*t happens" excuse. The horse was under your care & your setup. Pay the vet bill. IN TOTAL.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Bacardi1 View Post
                                I think you're talking about apples & oranges here.

                                It sounds like you want to weasel out of any responsibility for this horse's accident/injury because you're using it in lessons & compensating the owner for that privilege. One has absolutely ZERO to do with the other.

                                You have an unsafe setup, & because of it, a boarder's horse now has an injury resulting in lameness that the severity of which, at this time, is "undetermined". Sorry, but I don't go with the "sh*t happens" excuse. The horse was under your care & your setup. Pay the vet bill. IN TOTAL.

                                The boarder was free to move whenever she liked had she thought the set up to be unsafe. Horse has been boarded there EIGHT YEARS. He is more than familiar with the routine. Small boarding barns like this usually have limited traffic in the way of new horses coming and going, so if all are familiar with the routine its fine. Just because it is not how you would keep your horses does not mean its bad or unsafe.

                                I also do not see where she is trying to weasel out of paying. She explained the situation clearly and without emotion, and obviously appreciates use of the horse in lessons.
                                "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
                                "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Bacardi1 View Post
                                  I think you're talking about apples & oranges here.

                                  It sounds like you want to weasel out of any responsibility for this horse's accident/injury because you're using it in lessons & compensating the owner for that privilege. One has absolutely ZERO to do with the other.

                                  You have an unsafe setup, & because of it, a boarder's horse now has an injury resulting in lameness that the severity of which, at this time, is "undetermined". Sorry, but I don't go with the "sh*t happens" excuse. The horse was under your care & your setup. Pay the vet bill. IN TOTAL.
                                  Really? The boarder thought the setup was safe for the last 8 years or she would presumably moved her horse.

                                  No "setup" is perfect - it's the job of the horse owner to decide whether they think the facility is adequate or not. If they choose to board their horse, it sort of goes without saying that they think it's good enough. Certainly after 8 years they realize the benefits and shortcomings of the facility and setup.

                                  Horses can get hurt in any type of setup, from the backyard barn to the nicest show facility. Getting led back and forth from stalls to turnout, leading through the barn, in turnout alone, turned out with other horses, walking to the arena, in their own stalls, etc.. Unless there is neglect (e.g. metal pitchfork accidentally left in the stall with a horse), you can't argue that an injury is "the fault" of the barn owner. What barn owner would ever take on another horse if any injury was their fault? (Horse gets splinter from rough cut fence rails? Horse slips on icy hill? Horse trips on threshhold into stall and falls?)

                                  If the barn owner steps forward to pay for, or rehab, horses that get hurt on their property, they better expect to do it for every horse that gets hurt. Which basically means, they will be broke and won't board any horses.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    When I was a kid, my horse "escaped" while barn help was bringing in horses. It was 100% due to a barn worker's laziness and negligence.

                                    He ran into the barn and slid and fell on the concrete aisle. He got a hematoma on his chest that required drainage and hurt his hip and stifle. My parents paid the bills and were never compensated on board even though he was off for a few months. We never considered that the barn/worker should do something about it... Was treated as a "shit happens" scenario.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Suppose the BO did have gates on the barn aisle.

                                      Would this have stopped a horse from bolting through as a boarder led her horse through? We have all dealt with the "getting one horse out of the pasture" often enough to know it can be a challenge. One that sometimes the horse wins.

                                      I think HO pays the bill,although I can understand that all BO and BM are upset when an accident occurs in their barn.
                                      Taking it day by day!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Okay - let's put the dicey barn setup aside for a moment (& regardless of how long the setup has been in place doesn't automatically mean it's "safe").

                                        The OP still seems to infer that the fact that she's been using the boarder's horse in lessons & compensating the boarder for that use has some bearing on her possible responsibilities re: the injury issue. It DOESN'T. THAT'S what makes her sound "weasely". One has nothing to do with the other.

                                        She SHOULD be compensating the boarder for using the boarder's horse in lessons. It's still wear & tear on the horse by different riders. Does she think she should be getting the use of a nice horse in her business for free?? Regardless of whether or not the boarder was expecting compensation? Geesh.

                                        And sorry, but I will have to agree to disagree with everyone here who thinks this is a "sh*t happens" issue. A setup like this should have much better precautions in place to prevent horses from bolting into the barn when a horse is brought in. If the business has been in place for as long as the OP says, there's been plenty of time to develop & implement safety procedures.

                                        Comment

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