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Don't Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth

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  • Don't Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth

    Well I no longer have a horse.

    For those of you who don't remember, I was given a horse as a gift for my birthday from my mother's friend. Her and I agreed that that I could keep him there in exchange for me working, riding her horses and helping out around the farm.

    I found given my timeline for my goals - not being able to show competitively until I have graduated (another 3-5 years depending) - that this horse would be ready to retire or go into an easier career within a couple years of me graduating. So I decided to find him a nice home with lower level aspirations and purchase myself a weanling or yearling.

    I had been told that I was allowed to sell or move this horse, he was a gift after all and in my name.

    However, a few weeks a ago (before I had decided to sell) I was told that I would owe the gifter/donor $1,500 and then this weekend, when I had someone scheduled to view him I was told I would owe her $3,000...

    Not only was I told that but I was also informed that this horse had started to display dangerous and possibly fatal (to rider and others in the area) behavior when in the ring with other horses that a professional trainer had not been able to fix. He would spin and bolt with no prior warning (if you didn't know what to look for). She also let me know this morning that she did not believe he would hold up mentally to a competitive career.

    I had originally been planning on showing him at unrecognized shows and possibly using him competitively when I graduated, before I decided he would be better off with someone else.

    She refuses to let him leave her property without me paying the $3,000 and knows that I do not own a trailer and that I do not have a lot of horse contacts in the area. Also, she knows I don't have the money to hire a lawyer (because she would lose if I took this to court - papers and bill of sale were all made out to me).

    So I am out a horse, vet bills, time for services provided in return for board and all the time I put into retraining this horse.

    The point of this post? Get a contract with EVERYTHING, especially an expensive gift.

    Also agreements with family and friends...AVOID.
    The Sempiternal Horse

  • #2
    I'm sorry that things didn't work out with this horse. I'm a little unclear as to the situation though, it sounds a bit like a free lease? Did he remain at the owner's barn or was he somewhere else while you were riding him?
    My blog: Crackerdog Farm

    Comment


    • #3
      I am a little confused. You say the horse is in your name and you have a bill of sale for him. If the money she wants is about ownership of the horse and your paperwork is in order, a lawyer should be able to straighten this out with minimal time, effort, and cost if you want to keep the horse. However, if the $1,500 that got increased to $3,000 is supposed to be for her boarding and training him which you were working off and there's no documentation on that agreement, then things are more complex if you want to keep the horse, even more so because this is a friend of your mother. I will be interested to hear what other COTHers have to say, but IMHO this might be a case to walk away from with only the lessons you learned. :-(

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        The $1,500 was because she made an agreement with my mother after I had been given the horse, without my knowledge, that my mother would be pay 1/2 the purchase price.

        She then decided that I was responsible for the entire of the purchase price.

        I was the one putting the work into retraining the horse.

        Though I was also putting work into her pasture puffs to get them into shape and also train or tune up, depending on the horse. The work I put into her horses and help around the barn went towards my horse's board (which is the only thing I was working/paying for and I did enough work each month to pay off the board).

        Considering that a professional trainer was unable to fix his habit of suddenly spinning and bolting when in the presence of other horses in the ring (which I was not made aware of until a couple days ago), I do not want to deal with that during a show and nor do I want to deal with selling a horse that may never be safe at a show.
        The Sempiternal Horse

        Comment


        • #5
          My current horse, which my mother will either take over or will become a resale project, was $3,000. He needed some tuning up, but could easily go into the western pleasure ring in another month or so and do very well (not my cup of tea, but what he was originally trained for). He's quiet, well built, has a great mind and gaits, but more importantly he has had training and still remembers it.
          Someone purchased him or agreed to purchase him and hasn't paid yet. So not surprised horse owner hasn't agreed for him to be moved or sold.
          You jump in the saddle,
          Hold onto the bridle!
          Jump in the line!
          ...Belefonte

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by MistyBlue View Post
            Someone purchased him or agreed to purchase him and hasn't paid yet. So not surprised horse owner hasn't agreed for him to be moved or sold.
            I read the OP's blog, it cleared some of my questions.
            My blog: Crackerdog Farm

            Comment


            • #7
              Weird, weird, weird. Or has it become customary to buy lavish gifts for friends' children?

              It sounds like you could pretty easily walk away with the horse if you could arrange for transport, but also like you can't really afford a horse anyway, especially one who may or may not have dangerous issues.

              Did she buy Knight specifically for you, or was he in her barn for a while?
              "Why would anybody come here if they had a pony? Who leaves a country packed with ponies to come to a non-pony country? It doesn't make sense!"

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Knight's breeder sold him to one of my mother's friend's clients, a trainer. Trainer's methods weren't the best fit for this horse and she eventually gave up and sold him to my mother's friend. My mother's friend then sold him to one of her very close friends J.H. in return for work that J.H.'s husband did in helping fix/rebuild the farm my mother's friend had purchased (though I believe J.H. still had to pay for him in addition to the work). This was back in 2009. My mother's friend then kicked J.H. out of her barn (Knight was being boarded there) which I did not find out about until recently. I was only told J.H. and hubby needed money and had to sell Knight. J.H. made the sales agreement out to me and the transfer of ownership documents were made out to me. Mother's friend was the one who paid for the horse.

                My mother's friend then put Knight's registration papers, transfer of ownership report and a birthday card into a present bag and had the bag hanging on Knight's door for when I came over one my birthday.

                It was repeatedly said that he was a gift to me from my mother's friend. This was NOT a free lease or me borrowing the horse. She also said the same say day she gifted me this horse that I could sell him or move him if he didn't work out for me.

                Knight had been in her barn for about 5 years, and she owned him for the first year and half to two years of that.

                Also, I spoke with J.H. recently and asked why she had been kicked out and she had no clue and thought that she might have been in the way since my mother had come into the picture. So I still don't know the reason for her being booted.

                If needed, I could easily pick up extra hours at work and afford to board him somewhere else; however, if he can become as dangerous as she says, I don't want to have to deal with or be liable for a horse like that (though it doesn't fit with what I have seen/know of him).

                Misty Blue: From the beginning I was considering selling him and I made it pretty clear to my mother's friend that he wasn't my type of horse. As of August 4th, 2012 (date on both sales agreement and transfer of ownership report) he was mine, though I did know or accept him as a gift until August 7th, 2012 (my birthday).

                ETA: Her property is fenced and gated (with motorized gates). I used to know the code, but she probably has changed it by now. It would be difficult to get in or to get the horse out.
                The Sempiternal Horse

                Comment


                • #9
                  So what does the bill of sale say? Is there an amount for the sale listed? If so, was the amount paid? Are you a minor or over 18? Why would your mother have a second and seperate contract with the same person?

                  None of it seems to make sense.
                  You jump in the saddle,
                  Hold onto the bridle!
                  Jump in the line!
                  ...Belefonte

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Did your mom pay the 1500 for the horse? Was the deal between the friend and your mom in writing?
                    Unrepentant carb eater

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Misty- Op would be a third party beneficiary to the mom/ friend deal (assuming its in writing)
                      Unrepentant carb eater

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I copied this from the OP's blog, it was dated November 11, and I see has since disappeared. After reading the letter from the person she is complaining about I was pretty sure she would delete it if anyone checked her blog. I deleted the names of the people involved.

                        OP, I am sorry things haven't worked out the way you wanted but that's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.

                        From the blog:
                        As I stated earlier in this blog, Knight was given to be as a birthday gift, by a family friend, (name edited out).
                        It became clear to me that with my goals, finish college (another 4-5 years) and then compete that Knight would be around 14-15 years of age and probably would be retiring shortly thereafter, that I would be better off selling Knight while he would still be able to have a career and find myself something younger.
                        After letting (name edited out) know that I was planning on selling Knight and that I had someone coming to look at him a lot happened. I believe this email from (name edited out) sums it up nicely:

                        Hey OP: (name edited out)
                        I’m really sorry that yesterday was hard all around. I don’t think any of us had imagined that getting you a horse for your birthday would cause so much upset just a few months later. My intention is to AVOID any further upset to you, your family, or to myself.
                        I have to admit that when you proposed selling Knight I did not have time to think through all of the consequences and potential outcomes. In hindsight I wish we had discussed his potential sale before you listed him so that we could have had time to consider all of the repercussions.
                        As I’ve disclosed to you, Knight has a known past of being run into by another horse in a show ring. Afterward he had developed the behavior of spinning and running uncontrollably (with a seasoned trainer of 15 years). That is why his owner decided to place him with me with full disclosure. Given that past and knowing that you could handle him and that you were told about this your mother and I felt comfortable buying him for you for your birthday.
                        But to sell him poses some serious risks. First of all to any unknowing person who tries to show him without realizing that his reaction to horses coming close could potentially put the rider in serious or even lethal danger. If this is not disclosed to a buyer it could result in not only injury but potential legal consequences for you as a seller. I also believe that the horse’s best interest is not being fully considered. He is very stress prone and came to me with constant teeth grinding and ulcers. I don’t believe he’ll hold up to the stress of a training program or a show barn.
                        Given his history and knowing that you truly wish to have a different horse I see two possible choices for you:
                        First you can either give him back and sign him over to me (which your mother had promised that my name would be on his papers in the first place because I put up the money for his purchase) OR you can reimburse me outright in cash for the $3000 I paid and move him by the end of the month before you sell him to reduce my legal exposure. Your mother signed a legal contract that I would receive payment BEFORE he was moved or sold and I hope that I will never have to enforce that.
                        Either way the horse can’t be sold or moved until one or the other is decided.
                        Please let me know which of these you’d like to do. I wish to avoid any upset, ugliness or legal action but I must protect any buyer from potential harm and my business from liability associated with this sale.
                        Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you before you show the horse to potential buyers.
                        My deepest desire is for you to find your ideal horse and achieve success in the future.
                        (Name edited out)
                        Last edited by Crackerdog; Nov. 11, 2012, 08:41 PM.
                        My blog: Crackerdog Farm

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          So much doesn't make sense.

                          1) Do you have a bill of sale with your name on it or not? If so, everyone else can take the proverbial long walk off a short pier: The horse is your property.

                          2) That means, too, that selling him is your problem and liability. It your decision to disclose his past history or not, and also to deal with any unhappy buyers later.

                          3) Or, given the fact that this horse isn't the right one for you and will be hard to sell (and currently includes work for a person whom you don't like), it seems to me that you can walk away tomorrow and let this woman have her horse and all her problems back.

                          Reading her letter from the blog: I really don't like it when people reneg on a deal, citing their own failure to think it through before agreeing. The doctor's lack of foresight is not your problem.
                          The armchair saddler
                          Politically Pro-Cat

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Sounds like there's a reasonable out--give him back.
                            Author Page
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                            Steampunk Sweethearts

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                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              I did remove the post on my blog because of the advice of one of my friends.

                              I also see you only copied a portion of the post and seem to have missed the portion where I talk about how I wasn't informed of the horses behavior until this past Friday. That's just over three months of working a horse that apparently is potentially dangerous.

                              She also never informed me that the horse would not be suited to a competitive career. I sold my last horse because I knew her nervous issues would eventually cause her health issues (ulcers mainly) and stress in general, and I didn't think it fair to her.

                              Was I naive in taking an expensive gift from my mother's friend? Yes, extremely and too trusting.

                              Is this a sucky situation that I am stuck eating vet costs etc? Yes

                              Is it a hard way to learn this lesson? Yes

                              Was her intention in the beginning to give me the horse? Yes, she gave him to me as a gift; however, I do believe that she may have regretted it when she realized that he would be leaving her farm and that she really had no say in where he went and I'm sure she had become attached to him during the time he had been at her place.

                              As far as the deal between her and my mother to split the price of the horse (so my mother owes $1,500). It is my understanding that the contract between them was signed afterward the horse being given to me (I am 22 and am only considered a dependent by FAFSA for federal aid). However, that was what my mother told me and I have no way of knowing if that was true since I have never laid eyes on that contract/agreement.

                              As far as me paying the full $3,000, that was never brought up until this weekend (and I never signed anything saying I would pay that).

                              From what I remember from the bill of sale (don't have in right in front of me at the moment) the horse along with all his tack, blankets, brushes, grooming cart etc were being sold to me. I believe the $3,000 sale price was on it, but can't be positive as I am going off of memory. And no it doesn't seem like I will be getting any of those misc items either.

                              I should have handed the gift back and said no thanks, but I didn't.

                              Either way I have asked a mod to take this down. I posted this while I was emotionally strung out from the weekend and that just wasn't. I'm big enough to admit that I could have vented here without going into so much detail on a forum among strangers.
                              Last edited by Sempiternal; Nov. 12, 2012, 02:47 PM.
                              The Sempiternal Horse

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Sempiternal View Post
                                I should have handed the gift back and said no thanks, but I didn't.
                                What would her reaction be if you hand him back to her along with a bill for the work that you put in to pay for him.

                                Give him back and walk away. The longer you have him the more board he will rack up for you to pay.
                                A pussycat of a horse with a chewed off tail won the triple crown, The Cubs won the world series and Trump won the Presidency.
                                Don't tell me 'It can't be done.'

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                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  He was a gift. Like if you are given a puppy for your birthday. I haven't paid her anything for original purchase.

                                  If you pay for someone else to buy you the puppy for your birthday then it's not exactly a gift.
                                  The Sempiternal Horse

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    OP, you are right, I only posted part of that blog post. I copied her email to you because it gave another side to your story, other than taking out names I didn't change a thing. I also didn't post your response to her because I didn't feel it put you in a very good light.

                                    The more you add here the less things make sense. If the horse was a gift and your mom hasn't paid any money to the lady and you don't like the horse then just wash your hands of the whole situation. Being out vet costs is minor compared to what it could have been.

                                    I also didn't copy anything about the lady's job because it has zero bearing on your issue. I hope you are able to work out all the issues with this horse and the lady to the benefit of all involved.
                                    My blog: Crackerdog Farm

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I remember a post about a horse with a similar background...wonder if it was this horse that it was about. I remember the running over by another horse and the buck/spin/bolt issues.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Sempiternal View Post
                                        He was a gift. Like if you are given a puppy for your birthday. I haven't paid her anything for original purchase.

                                        If you pay for someone else to buy you the puppy for your birthday then it's not exactly a gift.
                                        If you have ownership papers you can take the horse. She can sue your mother for the $1500 she's owed as per their agreement, but you had nothing to do with that agreement.

                                        As far as I understand the friend and your mom were each supposed to pay 1/2 of the price, and the friend fronted all the money - but the horse is paid for, and legally yours if that's what the papers say. The payment issue is between mom's friend and mom. You can probably ask for a sheriff/police escort to take the horse off her property if you have the ownership papers in hand.
                                        Proud Member Of The Lady Mafia

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