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Obligations AFTER the sale of a horse?

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  • Obligations AFTER the sale of a horse?

    Seeking your thoughts on this one, as I have never sold/given away a horse.

    Two weeks ago I GAVE AWAY my Appaloosa gelding whom I had owned for 6 years. I GAVE him away due to a crappy economy and some health issues. He is sound, broke, and has potential but needed a home where his owner would be very involved. He requires a confident owner/rider, which I believe I found. I delivered him, have a signed contract which included an "as is" clause and a disclosure section where I outlined his current health issues and a trailering issue. During the initial visit/try I told his new owner that he can be fearful and has flight issues. New owner said no problem, I have had horses like this before.

    Fast forward to yesterday when I get a vague email from his new owner's wife saying I needed to call ASAP due to issues with my former horse. I was not able to call, but did ask for more info via e-mail in case it was health related. Get an e-mail back that it was "under control" for the night, but that my gelding struck at his new owner. I never had to deal with striking issues while I owned him.

    So, here it is... do I have an obligation to help them through this issue? I am not concerned about the welfare of him care wise because I did checking on the farm/people, however I am somewhat perplexed by what made him strike. On the hand, he is an experienced horse person and I feel he has the know-how to work through the issue. Would you get involved or let it ride?

    Thank you in advance!
    Gone gaited....

  • #2
    Well, I would tell them you never had that problem with him while he was here.... make it clear that he is not your horse, and you hope they can work through the problem.


    • #3
      So, here it is... do I have an obligation to help them through this issue? I am not concerned about the welfare of him care wise because I did checking on the farm/people, however I am somewhat perplexed by what made him strike. On the hand, he is an experienced horse person and I feel he has the know-how to work through the issue. Would you get involved or let it ride?

      I don't think you are obligated to help them at all. But I would be curious why he would do such a thing. Did he really strike? Or did he just happen to lift a leg in their direction and they misinterpreted it? When my youngster was young he would strike out at me, but it was half hearted and really had no evil intentions (he didn't get away with it by the way - no matter what that is unacceptable behavior). Maybe he's just having a hard time adjusting since you had had him for so long. As far as care, people don't usually spend a lot of time with a horse they are afraid of or don't like, so it would be worth it to me to dig just a little deeper. If they do decide to give him away you have to ask yourself if you would want him back or help them find another home for the horses well being.

      Sadly people do have a tendancy to over estimate their experience with horses. Maybe this guy isn't as experienced as he said he was and is not passing the horses new owner tricks. Appy's are smart that way.


      • #4
        you don't have to help them, but it might be good to make sure your horse is not in any danger. I mean you do have a history with him, maybe you'd want to make sure they are smart enough to have an appy.


        • #5
          I would want a WHOLE lot more detail on the incident, and then I might set up a time to go out there and see if we could re-create the situation. In the meantime I would be thinking about offering to take him back, but that's just me.

          If he really did strike, I'd be thinking that's not a good home for him and he needs to go elsewhere. If it was a slap at a fly or a snatch of a foot away while cleaning feet, then they need a bit of education, which isn't too hard.

          Tough situation, I hope it all works out easily and for the best for all involved.


          • #6
            I do not think it is necessarily your 'job' to help them through this however it might be in the horse's best interests to do so.

            Usually kicking is a much more fear-based reaction than striking. Striking is usually a disrespect/dominance issue, since horses dominate through their front end. I find it odd the horse would be exhibiting such behaviour though if he primarily had the tendency to be reactive and fearful as opposed to dominant. On the other hand however, particularly being an Appy, perhaps your horse is naturally a 'dominant', thinking horse who simply has reactive tendencies. In that case, it is entirely possible you simply never worked with him in such a way that initiated such a reaction from him. That is not necessarily a poor reflection of the new owners; they may simply be doing something different with the horse, either working through an issue whereby the horse feels the need to rebel or retaliate or challenge their leadership (which does not mean they are handling him poorly or in an inexperienced fashion, they could simply be challenging his leadership and he is challenging them back), or they simply made a mistake in his handling and unintentionally provoked such behaviour. I would tend to think it is a result of their unintentionally provoking him due to lack of experience, since they called you concerned, however it does not necessarily mean they are more inexperienced than they made themselves out to be.
            ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
            ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.


            • #7
              Maybe if you considered it helping your horse rather than an obligation to the new owner.
              I'm sure your horse could use a friend to reassure him and help him deal with his new situation.


              • #8
                I agree with the above post. Your horse may be in need of an old friend.


                • #9
                  It depends on how much you care about the horse's future.

                  I once took back a horse that I'd sold because he was experiencing some age-related soundness issues. I was afraid of where he might end up. I decided to retire him at that point.

                  If your ex-horse is acting out, there may be a physical reason or it may be that the new owners have a way of handling him that has caused this reaction.

                  It might be a good idea to go and watch them work with him and give them some tips.
                  Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                  EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                  • #10
                    Just be careful that going to the farm is not seen as an admission of preknowledge that something was wrong with your horse. People love to sue and judges have no clue about horse behavior.

                    You have no obligations to these people. If you are willing to take the horse back, go and try to help him. If not, I would follow other people's advice.


                    • Original Poster

                      Taking him back is not an option. I spent two years soul searching to come to the conclusion that we just were not a good match for each other. He is not a bad horse, actually he is quite affectionate and enjoys working, but he is high energy and high maintenance. I explicitly told them he needed a job and needed to be worked more than I could provide.

                      I also agree that going up there to "help" makes it seem like there was a pre-exisiting issue, which there absolutely was not. It impossible to say WHY he struck out and honestly I am not their trainer. I feel in a way that it is up to the new owner to work through this issue OR hire someone to help him that can. Just because he never struck at me doesn't mean he won't be different with other people. That I cannot help. I am still comfortable with this home, but I just don't see WHY I should go out of my way....

                      They requested a call, but in light of the fact I don't want to be involved but still care about the horse, any suggestions on how to nicely bow out?
                      Gone gaited....


                      • #12
                        Go out of your way to protect yourself Just In Case. Not returning a call would be seen by many people as tacit 'admission' you didn't reveal everything in the contract/disclosure, and that could become an issue later if someone gets hurt. At least returning the call would help avoid that. Hear them out a bit and then state again that 'he didn't and likely wouldn't do that with me, horses react differently to different people, you should get a trainer you are comfortable with to help you work with him'. Preferably, take notes and re-state what you said in writing in an email as documentation.

                        Any chance the wife is being a bit OMG and the husband is not so perturbed about whatever happened?
                        HAS provides hospital care to 340,000 people in Haiti's Artibonite Valley 24/7/365/earthquake/cholera/whatever.
                        www.hashaiti.org blog:http://hashaiti.org/blog


                        • #13
                          You have answered your question. You do not want to go and help them with this problem and you are under no obligation to do so.

                          You asked originally what other people would do. I would go and try to help the horse settle into his new home and if it didn't work out, I would try to take him back and place him in a more suitable home.

                          I understand that it is not always possible to take back a horse. I have certainly been in that situation myself. The last time I sold a horse I sent her on trial for a week before selling her because I would no longer have a stall after she was gone and I would not have had the capability to take her back. Luckily, she's worked out wonderfully for her new owner.

                          I did sell an OTTB many years ago that had some physical issues that prevented him from being a competition horse. I sold him for just slightly more than meat price, required references up the wazoo, wrote a detailed sales contract that explained his physical limitations and released all his vet records. I never followed up with that new owner because I had moved out of state and didn't have the capacity at that time to take him back.

                          However, if you choose not to go and work with them, then you have to make the decision not to wonder what happened to it when you find that the new owners don't have him in three months. Do they have a trainer? Just because someone has owned horses for a long time doesn't mean that they have experience dealing with a horse that shows aggression.

                          Someone at my barn decided to dump a pony that showed significant aggression. The pony bit, kicked at people and finally charged someone and knocked her over. It had been a nice pony and I offered to take over its care until I could find it a home. During those 8 weeks or so, I worked with it almost daily to develop better ground manners. The problem was, I'm afraid, that the pony had learned it could dominate its owner to the point where the owner was afraid of it. Aggression needs to be nipped in the bud or it can get dangerous. Luckily the pony has thrived in her new home (she's at a riding school with lots of supervision and being ridden daily) and has reverted back to being a doll to handle.

                          The previous owner was willing to sell it to a dealer for a dollar and I was pretty sure it was going to go to slaughter which is why I volunteered to help.

                          Good luck with your decision.
                          Last edited by Bogie; Aug. 22, 2010, 02:05 PM. Reason: fixed typo
                          Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                          EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                          • #14
                            Personally, I wouldn't get involved in the situation except to offer to take the animal back (which it sounds like you are unable to do). I would not put myself into the situation by going over to their barn to evaluate the problem. Then what? Are you going to stick around to fix the problem for them? If they have any horse experience at all surely they are familiar with the concept of calling a trainer, which is what I would gently suggest they do.

                            I would say something along the lines of pointing out that you aren't there to see the situation for yourself and it isn't a problem you have experienced before, so it would be very difficult for you to offer meaningful advice, but you could recommend trainer X who should be able to help them.


                            • Original Poster

                              Well, I just sent a follow up e-mail reiterating that while I have never had this issue with him, I hope that they were able to determined why he acted out. I did once again outline his personality type and the type of behavior I have seen from him in the past. There isn't much more than that for me to do. I appreciate all of the advice I have gotten here today.

                              I did leave the door open for them to e-mail me or call me this week if they have questions. I am not going to go up there at this point and work through it. It could be a one time reaction, but if it isn't I will have no problems telling them they should hire training to lend assistance.

                              Here's hoping...

                              Tough situation for me as it was. I have never sold or given away a horse before. I always kept my horses to old age and this was the first I just wasn't clicking with.
                              Gone gaited....


                              • #16
                                I think it's weird that it was New Owner's wife, not New Owner, who got in touch with you.

                                Maybe New Owner thinks he can handle the problem, and his wife thinks less of his abilities than he does.

                                Anyway, I don't think you have any obligation to New Owner. You disclosed everything you knew when the horse changed hands.

                                Let's hope it's just settling-in nerves.
                                I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show


                                • #17
                                  I would stick to emails instead of calls as much as possible, for this reason: Emails have date stamps and are a written record of discussions. If you must call, take careful notes of what was said (recording calls without the knowledge of the other party is illegal) just in case they do decide to take you to court. Make it very clear that the behavior is not one that manifested itself while the horse was in your care.

                                  Beyond covering your butt, you have no obligation to help them. Perhaps suggest the name of a good trainer in their area, but let them know that the horse is theirs and any future training decisions are theirs.

                                  That said, I'd worry about where this horse might end up if I were in your position-too many overfaced owners, instead of admitting they are over faced and seeking a professional to help, simply dump the horse. They could place the horse with a responsible, experienced person who can help, but in order to do that, they must admit, at least to themselves, that they got in ovr their heads. If they won't do that, they're likely to send the horse through an auction or give it away on Craigs List...if you can't take it back, that's understandable, but if you can do so temporarily, or if you know someone willing to take the horse on while you find a new owner, it would give the horse a better chance at a decent future.


                                  • #18
                                    Absent a contractual duty you have no post sale responsibilities for the horse.

                                    Only you can answer the question, "Do I even want to get involved in this on a personal level?"

                                    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


                                    • #19
                                      Yeah, I too would be more concerned with doing right by the horse, as opposed to meeting or not meeting an obligation to the new owner.

                                      It sure sounds like all the bases have been covered as far as disclosure goes, but that won't keep this horse safe from being dumped by owners who are out of their depth.

                                      I would hate to find a picture of a horse I had been responsible for at some point listed on some feedlot "save from the truck" mass e-mail. Which isn't to say that this particular horse will end up like that, but a situation like this can be such a slippery slope.

                                      It sure is a tough call to make. That is for sure.


                                      • #20
                                        Are they requiring your help with a problem they have encountered with him or do they just want to return the horse? If it is the later, and for whatever reason they feel that the horse is not working out for them, then I would take the horse back and find a more suitable home for him. That is the only fair thing to do for the horse and your conscience. It would be no different then selling any horse that did not work out to the expectations of the new owner. Why would you allow any horse to stay in a situation with a new owner that was not working out. I would definetly offer to take the horse back.