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WWYD: bad farm situation of good friend

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  • WWYD: bad farm situation of good friend

    I need some advice about this situation as it is not good at all. Please try to refrain from being nasty about it as this is about a very good friend of mine and I am trying to find a way to get through to her and her husband that the should NOT be breeding at all, much less have the number of horses they do.

    I am worried about my friend's horses. Right now she has 30+ head on her farm and a handful of boarders, including myself. In the past few months I have noticed that the quality of care has gotten sketchy and while I know my friend is having financial problems things are getting scary there. I am looking to move my horses now as I am worried about them being there but i also am worried about the others that aren't mine but have grown attached to.

    Before I list off all of the problems please keep this in mind: animal control has been there and apparently they are good friends with animal control for the area. They party with them and know them all personally so any time a call is made on them, nothing ever gets investigated properly because of their relationships with the ACOs. So calling AC is clearly not possible as even one of the officers was there just visiting my friend the other day.

    So let me tell you what is going on and you guys can tell me what I should do as I am at a loss.

    Recently, several horse have been getting seriously skinny, scary skinny. Hip bones and all skinny. But not all of them. Some of them are okay. She says that they have been dewormed but they're still really bad. (I do my own deworming and shots etc. so I know my horses are taken care of.) There is something wrong with these horses and she isn't doing anything about it.

    The horses in the barn rarely get turned out. They will be in the stall for days even weeks without coming outside and will stand in piles of manure. One stall barely has any openings except for the door and it's been covered up so the horse in there is pretty much in the dark all of the time. The only time my horses get out is if I go to ride.

    I have gone there and found that the horses don't have grain for days.(I now buy my own plus I now buy my own bedding too because they won't buy it now.). There have been times that my friend has harassed me about me paying my board because I usually pay it early and she knows when I get paid so she'll call to demand it because they need grain.

    They have several stallions that aren't handled regularly and one who gets loose on a regular basis. I'm waiting for him to run in the street and either get hit or kill the neighbor's horse as sad as it is to say.

    They continue to breed despite having several unsold young horses and several untrained and unhandled weanlings.

    There are horses in desperate need of farrier care, some even with shoes that have been on since before summer. Some with only one shoe on a seriously overgrown toe, so overgrown that the bars of the shoe don't even come close to the heel. (I pulled that shoe off in the dark one night.)

    Recently there were several mares that were pregnant that spontaneously aborted-then they rebred them on the foal heat. The dead foals weren't buried but thrown on top of the burn pile. They even rebred the one mare that tried to kill her foal because she was a maiden mare and deserved a second chance.

    They are completely overwhelmed and they are trying to sell of some of their stock but they aren't being honest about the horses they sell. They are trying to make money and are overpricing their horses by waaaaaaaaaay too much. I try to help them sell their horses to get the horses out of there because it's not right. They have on TB that is priced at $9k but he is not even worth $2500. They don't ride him, don't do anything with him and they think they'll be able to get that for him because of his color. He is a mess and I tried once to tell my friend that people are not going to pay that for him as he is not registered, not trained to do anything but WT and once they look at the property, they will turn around laugh in their face and leave. My friend thinks she'll be able to get $20k for him once he is trained but she doesn't get that she does not have a $20k horse kind of farm, if you know what I mean. She sold one gelding who had foundered as being 100% sound and completely rideable but he was only pasture sound, maybe okay to do leadline work but not for a grown man who didn't know enough to have the horse vetted.

    I have tried to talk to them about the conditions but I have to be very cautious because I don't want another fight. (One time me and her got into a fist fight when she had been drinking, which she rarely does.) She is obviously depressed and not comprehending the situation and neither is her husband. I think they just stopped caring.

    I can't just leave yet. I have one filly I am buying form her and I refuse to leave her. She had offered a few times to buy her back after I started to train her but I can't just leave without paying her off. That's in our contract. I don't have much left to pay on her and as soon as I do, we will leave but in the meantime, I'm kinda stuck.

    Nothing I say is making a difference and I feel trapped right now. I don't want to take my other horses off the property until I can take my filly plus I don't want to leave because I am worried about the other horses.

    I know that this is a bad situation and while I know my horses are ok because I look after them, I am worried about my friend and also about her horses too. I know she has depression but won't get any help for it. She doesn't do anything around the house or farm but lay there watching tv then coming out every once in awhile to scream at someone.

    Things have really gone down hill and I can no longer talk to her about it. I know she is aware of what is going on but she doesn't do anything about it. Other boarders have left because the care sucks. She charges a lot of money and does absolutely nothing. I don't know what exactly I am paying board for now because I now have to pay for everything and that wasn't the agreement when we started boarding there.

    I wish there was something I could do but I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. I am looking for a new barn so once she is paid off we can get the heck out but what about the other horses? There are 5 horses that I don't want to leave there and I can't call AC because everyone is buddy buddy with them. Heck 2 of the officers came to her birthday party so they aren't going to do anything. (Conveniently the really skinny horses were in the far field so they couldn't be seen.)

    Please give me some suggestions about how I can address this. I don't want to lose my friend but I am losing her to a degree as she is really going down hill. I also want to be there for the other horses since it seems that no one takes care of them but me. Days have gone by when I was away at a show and I know that no one was fed or watered.

    I'm really stressed and need some help from some where.

  • #2
    I think that the only thing you could really do is to try to address her depression. As you are aware, her mental state is having a trickle down effect on the rest of her life, including how she runs her business. If you try to tell her how to handle her farm or take care of her horses, she can simply tell you to get lost. But if you try to get her help for depression, she might be willing to listen to you because you are trying to help her (as a friend) rather than criticize her actions. I realize that this doesn't put weight on the horses or get feet trimmed, but you asked what you can actually DO, and I think this is the best place to start that has any hope of positive results.


    • #3
      Honestly, I am not sure WHY you would want to be friends with someone like this. If she is so ignorant and cruel to breed 30+ horses and to leave horses in manure-filled stalls and to harass you for money, explain to me how any of that qualifies as a desirable friend?!

      Also, I can tell you with much confidence that NOTHING you can say or do will change this person's behavior. Ignorance can be bone deep, and sounds like she's got it in spades. It's a shame that Animal Control will probably not help, but if things get bad enough, and you are able to sneak some pictures, pwehaps you can report it elsewhere (news, humane society, someone higher up in AC for your area) and make enough of a stink that they are forced to deal with it. That takes a lot of courage and persistance, and no illusions that this person is your friend in order to do it. I understand that you want to take your filly out of there, so save up as fast as you can and just get out of there with your horse and your filly. Don't look back....

      Sorry to be harsh, but you are absolutely in a no win situation. Cut your ties and association with this woman (it will reflect badly on you) and get your horses out of there. Be very sure to get a signed bill of sale saying it is completely paid off for the filly.


      • #4
        I know things aren't always black and white. Emotions get involved, and relationships are affected. However, at a certain point, you have to draw your line in the sand. The choices and decisions your "friend" is making are, at best, irresponsible. At worst, abusive.

        Pay for your filly, move your horses, and speak your piece. That's all you CAN do. Get your concerns off your chest, and move on. You can't change who she is, what she thinks is okay, the choices she makes. She has to change them. And the sad news is that she likely won't. The good news is that you will no longer be a part of it in any way, shape, or form.

        I left a training barn that had skinny, underfed, aged horses in the lesson string. They were not taken care of as they should have been, not retired when they needed to be, not given appropriate medical attention when needed.....and sadder that that, not euthanized when it was time. A few of them were also "conveniently" tucked away out back, so they were not readily seen by casual lesson students/families or visiting trainers. I took my money and my horses and got out. Several other customers left at that time too. The proverbial shit hit the fan all at once. I have told everyone I know about the abysmal conditions and treatment, and some of those people have since seen for themselves. Some still think I'm a liar. It doesn't matter to me. I did the right thing for the horses I was responsible for, and contacted the authorities for those horses who I was not responsible for. Past that, it was out of my hands, whether I liked it or not.


        • #5
          You describe, almost to a "T" a woman I used to know - which leaves me with a very strong opinion on how to handle it.

          I struggled for YEARS with the situation including a lot of effort/labor on my part. The bet advice I can give you is to walk away. Take your horses and get out of there. Then report her. Until it works.

          If you have the fortitude, forward her a link to this thread or at least a letter with the message that you have posted with your frank assessment. Be honest and forthright with her. Tell her that while you pity whatever it is that has led her down the wrong path, you feel that as her friend and as an animal lover you can no longer stand by and watch the serious neglect.

          Before you go, take a LOT of pictures with a camera that puts a date stamp on the pictures. Note the locations of the stalls with the horses in the roughest condition.

          Once you have removed yourself and your horses, call ACO. Harass him/her. ACO may not be able to do anything for neglect and that may be why nothing happens. When you call ACO, simply ask them if they have the authority to deal with neglect cases. In my town, ACO refers to the SPCA because ACO can not do a thing. Call the Town Administrator/Manager and Board of Health. Call the newspaper. Call the SPCA. Make a stink until someone listens. The SPCA may ask you specific names/locations of horses in poor location on the property, be prepared to tell them exactly how to find them. Keep at it.

          But before put your friendship at risk and therefore lose any opportunity to help her (if that is even possible), look at it through the eyes of the SPCA or whomever will become involved. They aren't going to care if these people are making bad business decisions or of their horses are priced too high or even if their place is a mess. Nor will they care if stallions are not handled. Or if mares were bred and aborted. And if there is feed on the property the day someone shows up then there is no proof that they are not being fed - unless a bunch of them are skinny enough to draw attention. It is amazing how bad it has to be to actually get action! And also, note that there is a husband involved who doesn't seem to are either so there is likely some invisible complexity to the situation - it isn't like a single crazy cat lady...
          Last edited by sketcher; Oct. 27, 2010, 04:02 PM.


          • #6
            I was in a very similar situation and I actually thought you might be someone I know! I found out the hard way but you will not be able to stay friends with this person AND be able to tell her how to manage her farm/horses. They think everything they are doing is fine and that they know everything because they have been around horses x number of years. Plus what are you going to tell her why you are moving your horses? You have to pick: friendship or trying to be a voice for the horses because you most likely aren't going to be able to do both. But just from what you say, doesnt sound like a very good friendship at this point...
            Originally posted by Sithly
            do NOT give your 5 year old child a big bag of apples and send her out alone into a herd of 20-some horses to get mobbed. There are better ways to dispose of unwanted children.


            • #7
              I would keep my trap shut, get the filly paid off ASAP, get moved, and THEN speak if you feel the need. Chances are, if you chose to tell this person what you think, the friendship will not last. Just keep that in mind if you decide to tell her your opnions. Good luck to you.


              • #8
                Take out a loan and pay off the filly, then leave with your horses. Alternatively, put it on one of those no interest for 6 months credit cards- and pay it off in 6 months.

                Write out whats going on there, with pictures, and take it to the state police. Explain to them why the appropriate local authorities aren't helping you. If you don't get anywhere, mail copies of the story and pictures to your local representative. It's just a matter of time before you find someone in power who is also an animal person.


                • #9
                  As everyone else has said, pay for your filly and get your horses out of there, ASAP!

                  Document everything you've described with photos and video. Make sure you have someone else with you when you do it.

                  Even if the AC won't do their job, they have to report to someone, whether it's the police department or some other superior. And most states have some state level department handling agriculture and animals, report the situation to them, along with the information that the ACO doesn't seem to be taking any action to help.

                  You may want to consider providing the photos and video to a local newspaper or TV station.

                  Your friend may indeed be depressed...but you can't help someone who doesn't want to help themselves. HOWEVER, you certainly can help the animals who have no say in this matter. They can't help themselves, you have a moral obligation to at least report this to the next level up.


                  • #10
                    I have to admit that I made it part way through OP- and had to get up for a glass of wine...good lord it made my head hurt and my eyes sting. But what kept going through my mind is what on earth can this person possibly offer YOU in a friendship. She sounds aweful- like the worst kind of animal abuser. Run don't walk away from this person and her friendship. Trust me, you are better off without her.

                    I had a revalation today about a dear friend who recently pushed me over the edge while working at her farm...for reasons not nearly as severe as what you described, but the general taking advantage of others, etc etc. And I realized that she liked to keep people in the one down position from her, which is why she allows so many of her clients to owe her money...its assurance- they are over extended and therefore cannot leave her farm, so she has them stuck there in a sense. If they paid in full every month, well then she would be in the beta position; a position, I gather, that would make both of our friends uncomfortable.

                    In life you have to look out for yourself. People will take advantage of you as long as you let them. I would ask yourself if you really need that filly, and if so, then get her paid off ASAP and get out of this situation.

                    Then go over the ACOs head and get her exposed.


                    • #11
                      I would definitely pay off filly ASAP and skedaddle before you talk to her, or any one who maybe able to fix the problem.
                      Maybe your parents would help, and you could pay them back?

                      You could try contacting a reputable rescue in your area, explain the situ to them in broad strokes, and ask a name of who they would most recommend you contact. Since this is the sort of thing they have deal with daily, I think they would be most likely to know who will get it dealt with ASAP.

                      Jingles for all the animals involved!

                      I reject your reality, and substitute my own- Adam Savage

                      R.I.P Ron Smith, you'll be greatly missed


                      • #12
                        I would leave at once, and if I were in a really bad mood I'd call a local television station to do a story on this, including the fact that Animal Control has been out multiple times with no results.
                        Click here before you buy.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                          I would leave at once, and if I were in a really bad mood I'd call a local television station to do a story on this, including the fact that Animal Control has been out multiple times with no results.
                          Exactly. There's a reason we have a free press in this country.

                          I would have left months ago, from the sound of it. Tossing dead foals on top of burn piles!? This woman sounds wacko.

                          ETA: I agree with others who are questioning why you're calling this woman a "friend." A "GOOD" friend, nonetheless. I would not hesitate to disown a family member for this sort of situation.
                          Last edited by mg; Oct. 27, 2010, 04:47 PM. Reason: additional input
                          "Last time I picked your feet, you broke my toe!"


                          • #14
                            This situation is a very bad one. I had a similar experience. The best thing you can do for your friend is move your horses ASAP and tell her, whether by written word or verbally, how this has impacted you and why you cannot be her friend any longer. Sooner or later if you stay, you will be guilty by association. You alone cannot change this person nor should you try. If you are her main source of income,which it sounds like, then you are enabling her to continue to abuse these animals. Read your post as if you didn't write it and ask yourself how you would respond.


                            • #15
                              I agree w/everyone who says get out of there yesterday, but photo and video document EVERYTHING before you do.

                              Then, go to anyone and everyone who will listed.

                              I would even go as far as to show up in person to an AC in another area and tell them what is going on w/the corrupt AC in your area. They may have some advise.

                              If all else fails, go to the press. There have been a lot of stories lately about horses being rescued from similar conditions.

                              Please, PLEASE put for feelings for this woman and her husband aside and do what is best for the animals.

                              They can't speak for themselves and are relying on you to do it for them.
                              Show me your horse and I will tell you who you are.


                              • #16
                                I was in a similar position once - not with a friend, really, but a person I worked for (and lived on her property). It was miserable. My husband (then fiance) and I finally had enough of trying, packed up and left.

                                Her animals were seized and returned, then seized again. The story did not have a good ending for the owner - but it is the reason I'm involved in rescue today.

                                Get out of there. Take out a loan to pay for the filly if you have to. I lament the time in my life I wasted trying to help someone who didn't want my help. Once you are out of there, call animal control, the sheriff's department and finally the media.

                                Good luck to you. This kind of thing is so hard.
                                Visit us at Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society - www.bluebonnetequine.org

                                Want to get involved in rescue or start your own? Check out How to Start a Horse Rescue - www.howtostartarescue.com


                                • #17
                                  Is there a state agency you can contact instead of the local animal control? Take LOTS of pictures & send them to the Sec. of Ag for your state & go see him/her &/or call him/her. I know in GA the horse abuse is handled at the state level not by local animal control.
                                  Thanks for trying to help the horses & please don't stop even when you're no longer boarding there. Someone has to help the horses.
                                  Producing horses with gentle minds & brilliant movement!


                                  • #18
                                    Get your animals and go. Then send her a lovely card thanking her for all the good years you had at her barn (I am assuming there were some of those) and expressing concern with the current state of affairs. Make sure the card is pretty. Maybe enclose a picture of happier times.

                                    End the card with an offer of support and help should she need it. (I do not recommend financial help).

                                    Then if you want to persue the AC, SPCA and such, do it.

                                    But be there for her if she needs someone to talk to. Maybe call her a few weeks later just to chat. You never know. You may be the light that awakens her sensibility and compassion.

                                    (I was a little worried about the advice to take out a no interest credit card to pay for the filly...usually cash advances are NOT interest exempt, so be careful there)

                                    Good luck.
                                    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by joiedevie99 View Post
                                      Take out a loan and pay off the filly, then leave with your horses. Alternatively, put it on one of those no interest for 6 months credit cards- and pay it off in 6 months.

                                      Write out whats going on there, with pictures, and take it to the state police. Explain to them why the appropriate local authorities aren't helping you. If you don't get anywhere, mail copies of the story and pictures to your local representative. It's just a matter of time before you find someone in power who is also an animal person.
                                      I'm not a fan of debt, but because you feel strongly about this filly, do what you have to do to pay for her and leave. As you know (or are figuring out painfully now), you cannot save all of them.

                                      You can't even fix this situation by yourself. Part of being a sane and effective person is knowing how to pick your battles.

                                      Originally posted by CHT View Post
                                      Get your animals and go. Then send her a lovely card thanking her for all the good years you had at her barn (I am assuming there were some of those) and expressing concern with the current state of affairs. Make sure the card is pretty. Maybe enclose a picture of happier times.

                                      End the card with an offer of support and help should she need it. (I do not recommend financial help).

                                      Then if you want to persue the AC, SPCA and such, do it.

                                      But be there for her if she needs someone to talk to. Maybe call her a few weeks later just to chat. You never know. You may be the light that awakens her sensibility and compassion.

                                      (I was a little worried about the advice to take out a no interest credit card to pay for the filly...usually cash advances are NOT interest exempt, so be careful there)

                                      Good luck.

                                      Good point on the $$ end and the card, too. I wouldn't expect to be able to maintain the friendship after I left. It sounds like the BO is not the "same person" you befriended originally. But you can acknowledge the good times and make it clear that this isn't personal. Or rather, you don't hold her personally responsible for the stuff she can't control (aka depression here?). You don't need to *say* it. What you need to *act* is "I won't co-sign your BS."

                                      She can interpret your leaving however she'd like. That's not your problem. You just leave with your side of the street as clean as you can make it.

                                      Your gripe should be, however, with the ACO. As others have said, I'd be a big ol' thorn in their side. That organization doesn't have the same excuse as one person who got emotionally and financially overwhelmed.... and was a little stupid about breeding and selling.

                                      If you want to feel like you contributed to the solution, rather than the problem, make it your business to spur the ACO or higher authority into action.

                                      ETA. I should say that I have been in a similar situation, but where animals weren't actually suffering a great deal. A nice friend and BO who started out taking excellent care of her farm and horses let that slip. She had some decent reasons, but i was surprised to see how far standards had fallen.

                                      I simply took my horse out of the situation. I sleep ok at night because my first obligation is to the horse I own. If I get all twisted up in trying to do more such that I can't care for/pay for/put in the time with him, then I have still done the wrong thing.
                                      The armchair saddler
                                      Politically Pro-Cat


                                      • #20
                                        I haven't read through the reply's on here, but I'm thinking that from what it sounds like, it could be a criminal case and may you may be able to bypass the ACO if you call and explain to the Sheriff's or county police. Then there is negligence on the part of the ACO if police do go forth. Usually, the ACO works for the town so what about getting in touch with a town supervisor? I'm just thinking out loud......I hope you can find some answers because with behavior like that I don't think you can get through to her. You have to walk away. I'm sorry and I sure hope those horses can get some help.
                                        "If you've got a horse, you've got a problem"