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padlocked stall door? Equine Law???

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  • padlocked stall door? Equine Law???

    Has anyone had to deal with laws regarding padlocked stall doors? I'm asking for my trainer who is dealing with issues regarding the lien a facility has placed on a client of her's horse. It's obviously super complicated but basically, the client has failed to pay board for 3 months and the facility owner has a lien on the horse. That is all fine BUT the barn owner has placed a padlock on the stall door. This prevents my trainer from blanketing/unblanketing, riding, and caring for the horse. In order to do any of this, we have to call the owner or manager and it often takes hours for them to come unlock the stall. It seems like a ridiculous measure the barn owner is taking solely to exert power/send a message of the severity of this lien. What concerns us (besides the inconvenience to my trainer to care for him) is the potential danger this animal is in should there be a barn fire (god forbid!) or he colics, etc. The barn owner ensures this is perfectly legal but I can't imagine it could be. Also, sort of separate but it's a lovely jumper (valuable) and the amount of $ the client owes doesn't begin to come close to the value of the horse. Does anyone know of any laws preventing stall doors from being locked? Any legal knowledge or information from previous experiences is much appreciated! Concerned for this horse! (Also, located in California, if that makes any difference regarding laws.)
    "When it comes to horses, there is no such thing as a passing fancy. They're a constant in life." -Jackie Kennedy Onassis

  • #2
    Perhaps the trainer can negotiate a lien on the owners tack instead of the horse so the horse can be looked after. Assuming the tack is worth more than is owed of course.

    As stupid and unsafe as this sounds, I don't think it is illegal to secure an item that you have a lien on. Sad in this case that it is a horse, but I am not sure that the law looks at a living animal that different than a car, as long as the animal is still able to be cared for.

    Not sure if the law would see locking a horse in a stall as much different than locking a dog in a house.

    Course I am not a lawyer!
    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

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    • #3
      I don't know exactly what the law is on this either but someone did that at our former barn - it was very scary - just the thought of fire and not being able to get the horse out.
      I'd go for the tack as well instead of the horse.
      The problem with political jokes is that they get elected.
      H. Cate

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      • #4
        If they auction the horse per the lien, any proceeds above what is owed to the facility must be paid to the owner.

        Not sure if locking is legal, but probably not smart if anything happens to the horse.

        Make sure they have actually filed the lien, not just threatened it. Check your local laws on agister's liens.

        http://www.equinelegalsolutions.com/...stersLien.html

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        • #5
          From all of the cases talked about on COTH I thought they stable owner was not allowed to prevent the horse owner from removing the horse from the property?
          "For some people it's not enough to just be a horse's bum, you have to be sea biscuit's bum" -anon.
          Nes' Farm Blog ~ DesigNes.ca
          Need You Now Equine

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          • #6
            If I.m not mistalen, it's illegal to prevent the removal of the horse. At least I believe that is true in Va.
            In an age when scientists are creating artificial intelligence, too many of our educational institutions seem to be creating artificial stupidity.—Thomas Sowell, Is Thinking Obsolete?

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            • #7
              Umm maybe I am missing something here, but how about trainer getting client to pay the darn bill? I can't imagine letting this happen, there are many things that could have been done before it got to this ridiculous situation.

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              • #8
                Padlocking the stall is not necessarily illegal but it is really, really dumb for all the reasons mentioned (and more I'm sure we could think of).

                The BO has the right to prevent the horse from leaving - I tell my clients to go to the local courthouse and get a notice of lien and tack it to the stall door (and keep lots of copies on hand) as well as tell every worker on the property that if the owner shows up, call the police. (I'm in Illinois - don't know if this is doable in CA.) The police normally will not stop the owner from taking the horse without the notice of lien.

                BO cannot sell the horse before obtaining judgment (and the law must be followed to the letter), which means the BO cannot sell the horse to the trainer without going through the proper procedures. If the horse is that nice maybe the trainer could work something out with the owner with the trainer paying the back board? (If they do this - make sure it's all in writing!)

                Here's a link to the applicable CA code: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/di...e=3080-3080.22

                If you'd like a referral to a CA equine attorney, let me know.
                Most people don't need a $35,000 horse. They need a $1,000 horse and $34,000 in lessons.

                "I don't have to be fair… . I'm an American With a Strong, Fact-Free Opinion." (stolen off Facebook)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ponyclubrocks View Post
                  Umm maybe I am missing something here, but how about trainer getting client to pay the darn bill? I can't imagine letting this happen, there are many things that could have been done before it got to this ridiculous situation.
                  This. I mean, if the trainer's still wanting to ride, I assume they're getting paid for training? Or are they willing to keep training after being stiffed for 3 months too?
                  Proud Member Of The Lady Mafia

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Nes View Post
                    From all of the cases talked about on COTH I thought they stable owner was not allowed to prevent the horse owner from removing the horse from the property?
                    It must vary from state to state. In CA it looks like the lien is automatic and they can prevent removal (which makes sense - what good is an agistment lien if the owner is allowed to just waltz in and take their property away if they please? Allowing removal of property by the owner defeats the whole idea of the agistment lien); what they can't do it dispose of the property without filing suit and a whole pile of other paperwork.
                    Proud Member Of The Lady Mafia

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by minnie View Post
                      If I.m not mistalen, it's illegal to prevent the removal of the horse. At least I believe that is true in Va.
                      Here's the VA law (Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-188.1 (2011)):

                      § 18.2-188.1 Defrauding person having a lien on an animal; penalty.

                      It shall be unlawful to remove or cause any horse or other animal to be removed from the possession of the owner or keeper of a livery stable or other person having a lien on the horse or animal for keep, support and care pursuant to § 43-32, [Va. Code Ann. § 43-32 (2011)] with intent to defraud or cheat the lienholder. A violation of this section shall be punishable as a Class 2 misdemeanor.
                      Most people don't need a $35,000 horse. They need a $1,000 horse and $34,000 in lessons.

                      "I don't have to be fair… . I'm an American With a Strong, Fact-Free Opinion." (stolen off Facebook)

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                      • #12
                        I don't understand how anyone who can't pay board can afford a trainer. But I am slow that way. :-)
                        I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
                        I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09

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                        • #13
                          Guys, please be careful stating what can and cannot be done. It varies GREATLY from state to state.
                          Visit Sonesta Farms website at www.sonestafarms.com or our FaceBook page at www.facebook.com/sonestafarms. Also showing & breeding Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

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                          • #14
                            How about a combo lock? Or making a copy of the key for the trainer?

                            But yeah, how is the trainer being paid?
                            Every mighty oak was once a nut that stood its ground.

                            Proud Closet Canterer! Member Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Sonesta View Post
                              Guys, please be careful stating what can and cannot be done. It varies GREATLY from state to state.
                              Yep - I'll say it again: I'm in Illinois - don't know if what I advise my clients is appropriate anywhere else.
                              Most people don't need a $35,000 horse. They need a $1,000 horse and $34,000 in lessons.

                              "I don't have to be fair… . I'm an American With a Strong, Fact-Free Opinion." (stolen off Facebook)

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by CHT View Post
                                Perhaps the trainer can negotiate a lien on the owners tack instead of the horse so the horse can be looked after. Assuming the tack is worth more than is owed of course.
                                Originally posted by summerhorse View Post
                                How about a combo lock? Or making a copy of the key for the trainer?
                                Padlocks on doors are only half about denying the owner access to the horse. The other half is the psychological worry -- about fire, colic, etc.

                                And it's worry that works on bystanders as well as the owner, as evidenced by the fact that the OP is worried enough to post here. The BO is probably counting on the trainer/bystanders to further pressure the owner to get their horse out of the unsafe situation (by paying the BO, thus solving the BO's problem for her).

                                Agreeing to swap the lock out for a combo lock others can access and/or for tack removes that psychological advantage.

                                It never hurts to ask -- maybe the BO just needed something to jumpstart negotiations and the padlock has already served its purpose in that regard -- but I'm just saying: don't discount the psychological side of what the BO is doing. It's real, and it's very effective.

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                                • #17
                                  Legally in TN you cannot hold a horse---------but personally, if you can't pay, I don't want your horse. I'll take you to court for what you owe and I'll drop your horse off at your house. It can stand at your place, not mine. That warning has always worked to get late boarders in motion.

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                                  • #18
                                    I can't talk about the law..but I would carry a pair of bolt cutters. You would be amazed at the tools I keep with me....but I pay my bills too.

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                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Combo lock is a good idea. The BO is refusing to leave a copy of the key with trainer. Very frustrating. Part of the whole power trip the BO is sort of doing. Long story regarding trainer and their payment- I didn't really want to get into it on here because its long and complicated but to say the least, trainer is NOT getting paid right now either- she has a separate lien as well and horse owner owes trainer $12,000 (way more than the 3 months board owed to the BO) but because BO filed first, her lien has priority and until that is resolved, the trainer's lien won't kick in. BUT for this reason and bc trainer has LOTS of reason to believe horse owner has completely abandoned horse at this point and will never pay off the $12,000 owner owes her or the $2,200 owed to the BO, trainer considers horse an asset that she must maintain until the primary lien to BO is paid off (which trainer herself might end up doing) so that her lien can then take precedence and she can proceed to sell the horse.

                                      There's even more mixed up in this like the fact that the "horse owner" is a 26 year old foreign exchange student and the horse is actually owned by the parents who conveniently don't speak a word of english and were supposed to be the ones wiring money every month to pay for the horse. They have never sent money. 26 year old has tons of excuses and works as translator between trainer and parents and BO and parents. Basically this kid is a very irresponsible and shady character who somehow managed to come up with the $50,000 to buy the horse in the first place but hasn't come up with a dollar to support the animal since.

                                      Basically, what I'm really curious about and would love to stick to are laws about physically locking up the animal. I know you can't lock up horses at horse shows like they used to in order to prevent theft (right?...I'm pretty sure there was some rule passed in the last few decades about that...?) so what is the difference here?

                                      Clearly this whole thing is a disaster and we just want to take care of the horse, keep him fit and sound, and find him a new, loving, and responsible home.
                                      "When it comes to horses, there is no such thing as a passing fancy. They're a constant in life." -Jackie Kennedy Onassis

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by alexisgeo View Post
                                        Combo lock is a good idea. The BO is refusing to leave a copy of the key with trainer. Very frustrating. Part of the whole power trip the BO is sort of doing. Long story regarding trainer and their payment- I didn't really want to get into it on here because its long and complicated but to say the least, trainer is NOT getting paid right now either- she has a separate lien as well and horse owner owes trainer $12,000 (way more than the 3 months board owed to the BO) but because BO filed first, her lien has priority and until that is resolved, the trainer's lien won't kick in. BUT for this reason and bc trainer has LOTS of reason to believe horse owner has completely abandoned horse at this point and will never pay off the $12,000 owner owes her or the $2,200 owed to the BO, trainer considers horse an asset that she must maintain until the primary lien to BO is paid off (which trainer herself might end up doing) so that her lien can then take precedence and she can proceed to sell the horse.

                                        There's even more mixed up in this like the fact that the "horse owner" is a 26 year old foreign exchange student and the horse is actually owned by the parents who conveniently don't speak a word of english and were supposed to be the ones wiring money every month to pay for the horse. They have never sent money. 26 year old has tons of excuses and works as translator between trainer and parents and BO and parents. Basically this kid is a very irresponsible and shady character who somehow managed to come up with the $50,000 to buy the horse in the first place but hasn't come up with a dollar to support the animal since.

                                        Basically, what I'm really curious about and would love to stick to are laws about physically locking up the animal. I know you can't lock up horses at horse shows like they used to in order to prevent theft (right?...I'm pretty sure there was some rule passed in the last few decades about that...?) so what is the difference here?

                                        Clearly this whole thing is a disaster and we just want to take care of the horse, keep him fit and sound, and find him a new, loving, and responsible home.
                                        Honestly, if I was trainer and the horse was really valuable, I'd pay off the damned BO and file the necessary paperwork to get started on selling the horse.
                                        The problem will be serving the horse's owners - she'll probably need to hire a lawyer to advise since they're not in the US, not to mention someone to translate the legalese. Can that horse bring in what she's owed, what the BO's owed, and all the legal fees likely to be associated with an international civil case? While I'm not 100% sure about CA, usually the lien holder isn't even allowed to make any profit - strictly what they're owed, plus maybe their legal fees depending on what the statute says.
                                        Proud Member Of The Lady Mafia

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