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Knowing when to cut your losses

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  • Knowing when to cut your losses

    I have a friend (let's call her L) who was introduced to me by a mutual friend about 5 years ago. Since then we've done quite a bit of business together and while I've always come out unscathed, the tide is starting to change.

    She's the type that no matter what her circumstance is, she's always going to gripe about it. She's considerably well off, but whines and complains about always being broke because she has so many horses. She is always asking everyone to help sell her horses for her, but she's pricing a $10,000 mare at close to 6 figures and then whining because no one will buy her. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why she's in the position she's in.

    She's now claiming she's having problems affording hay and feed (she has roughly 45 horses) yet she has 4 horses out with expensive performance trainers and is still planning on breeding another 10 mares this spring. Her barn manager is getting ready to quit because paychecks keep bouncing and working 15 hours a day for an ungrateful boss is getting old. Her barn manager approached me a couple weeks ago and asked if I knew of anyone else in the area hiring so I know he's ready to leave. If something goes wrong with one of her horses, he can never reach her and calls me to come out and help. I don't mind helping him or helping the horse, but I can't help but feel like I'm always covering up for her and doing what she's supposed to do since they're HER horses.

    She's lied to her husband about 2 of her mares claiming they're mine so he doesn't get upset that she's still buying horses. He actually called me at work this morning and left a voicemail asking me if I can find other boarding arrangements for "my" mares because he's concerned about the number of horses at L's barn. WTF!!!

    I'm done with her crap. Now here's my problem. L and I split 2 breedings this year. I paid the stud fee, shipping, and breeding expenses and she provided the mares. Both mares have been checked in foal. I know she's going to claim that she doesn't have the money to buy out my half. One of the mares is her best mare and I don't have the money to buy the mare. My shares of both foals should easily cover the value of the second mare, but she claims the mare is worth $30,000. I have right at $9,000 invested in these 2 breedings so I can't just walk away. We do have a contract drawn up, but it's fairly loosely worded and just says if one partner needs out prior to foaling then expenses up until that point are refunded.

    What are my options here?
    Last edited by yesitsanalter; Mar. 19, 2013, 11:05 AM. Reason: spell check failed me!

  • #2
    Does this person you're dealing with have a substance-abuse problem? Because it sounds like she's lost control of her "reality" a long time ago, and is in denial. She sounds downright delusional.

    This is a flagrant case of irresponsible horse ownership. For all those wondering how way-too-nice youngsters end up dumped at places like New Holland, here is Exhibit A. All it takes is the husband stomping out on her and the train-wreck ensues. This woman should not be breeding ANYTHING. When I talk about the difference between owning a business and IT owning YOU, this is what I mean--the people out there who've never seen a balance sheet.

    I would not want to be in your shoes. If you have a valid written contract, run it by your lawyer and ask him/her how they would go about enforcing it, explaining the situation the way you have here. At the same time, I would start backing away from this whole situation, distancing myself from being the "go-to" for their day-to-day crisis management. You're going to have to separate "friendship" from "business relationship" here, and at this point no matter what you do it's probably going to end painfully.

    The hardest part is, no matter what happens you're going to have to walk away from her horses. CYA. Her ship is sinking, and you don't have to be sucked into the vortex. Guard your OWN reputation.

    Good Luck.


    • #3
      I'm afraid you may think you have too much invested to walk away, but it's really the best course of action. You say the husband called to you remove "your" horses because he is concerned over the numbers on the property? This is not going to go well, not at all. Take LE's advice and CYA NOW.
      Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
      Incredible Invisible


      • #4
        Ouch. That's a tough one. Get a lawyer involved ASAP - we are not in a position to advise you on such a serious situation, especially given the significant chunk of change you have already sunk into the breedings (sorry about that!).

        But yes, protect your reputation first. I would also be straight with her husband if you haven't already.
        "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


        • #5
          Tell her you'll take the 2 pregnant mares into your barn until foals are weaned. Then you'll return mares and keep foals until sold, taking expenses owed from sale price. Document in writing and have her sign when you take posession of the mares.

          Only other choice is that stated above - and you are guaranteed to loose all money at the point in time. Under my suggestion if foals get hurt you could be out money - just document mare/foal injury/death "expectations" for both sides to CYA.
          Now in Kentucky


          • #6
            Perhaps you could keep the mares someplace else, until they foal and wean the babies. Then return the mares to her. Your comments don't specify if this is possible, if you have a farm home to keep them at or would have to board those mares to get your foals.

            Treat it like you are leasing the mares for getting foals back from them. Now that they are in foal, it should just be maintenance until babies arrive. Are the mares due in 2013 or 2014? $9000 plus 15 months board till early weaning in 2014 is quite a bit of time and expense. While foaling in 2013, is a much lesser expense and time span.

            As others have said, get this run by a lawyer, before talking to the woman. Then if husband calls you back, you can say "your mares" will be taken care of quickly. I feel sorry for him, going to come down like a ton of bricks.


            • #7
              I would definitely try to get something worked out sooner rather than later. I don't think you need to take ownership of either of the mares to settle this arrangement.

              Rather, if you wish to buy her out, why don't you figure out what it would cost to do a broodmare lease of the two mares and offer that amount and simply take the two mares into your barn (or to another barn) and care for them until the foals are weaned and then return them to her. Obviously get everything in writing and ideally the mares would be insured.

              Or, you could lease one mare and have full ownership of the foal in exchange for what you have already paid towards the other mare and each of you care for and keep full ownership of one foal.

              Or, while she may not have the cash on hand to pay you, you certainly could push her to refund you the money you have invested (per your contract) since she apparently does have assets she could sell to pay you. You might want to involve a lawyer for this one, but OTOH she might surprise you and come up with the money. Since you do have a contract detailing this as the proper resolution, this may be the clearest cut thing to do and the best ways to cut financial ties with someone who does not have their affairs in order.

              Oh, and I would not lie to her husband. You can refuse to tell him anything or tell him to ask her about it, but I would 100% avoid telling any lies to him--that could only complicate the situation further. Her husband may end up as your ally in getting this settled--clearly he is aware that there are some issues with her business.


              • #8
                Oh Lord, Alter, you aren't in my neck of the woods, are you?? I swear I know who you're talking about...

                From my experience with people just like this, this will probably get messy no matter which direction you go. Just be careful, always keep your hands clean, and have as much proof as you can get. You don't want L saying "Oh, you're leaving, and you can't buy my million dollar Maresy? Sorry, I don't know what contract you're talking about...MY mares are in foal with MY babies". You have a contract, but still. Ditto the lawyer advice. And ditto about telling the husband. If it didn't involve you, I'd say stay out of their marriage issues, but she made the lies about YOU, so you need to make sure he knows the truth. Who knows, maybe he'll get pissed and demand his wife sign babies over to you, so they'll have 2 less mouths to feed.

                Good luck


                • Original Poster

                  The mares are bred for 2014 foals. These mares aren't the two mares she told her husband that I owned, but I honestly don't think he could identify many of her horses. He's not a horse person by any stretch.

                  I told her that I thought it would be best if we severed our business partnership since we seemed to be going in different directions. She, of course, instantly said that she couldn't come up with the cash and that my only choice was to accept one of her horses as a trade. The 3 she offered to let me choose from would be of no use to my program and quite frankly I couldn't sell any of them for $9,000.

                  I offered to accept a lease of the older mare and full ownership of that foal and she said she'll consider it and let me know something tomorrow. The mare is 17 and has only produced 1 foal who was injured during birth and is not a show prospect. The mare herself is exquisite and is a perfect match with the stallion.

                  I would really prefer to retain ownership of one of the foals because the stallion's book is sold out for the year and I couldn't get another breeding to him until next year. Since I negotiated with the farm standing the stallion I'm not sure if she's aware of that fact or not.


                  • #10
                    Maybe you could get her to flip a coin for one of the foals and be done with it.

                    She's sounding like she's hoarding. I had a friend like that, and she got herself completely swamped in horses and wouldn't sell any (because she couldn't get "her" prices, and they were all "special"), and she kept breeding and breeding. Then, her husband became ill, and they couldn't care for the horses, her entire herd was basically seized, and the horses were given away.


                    • #11
                      There are some good ideas above for a fair distribution of the mares and foals.
                      So I'm going to be the misery guys that reminds you that it is entirely possible, even likely, that you come out of this with neither horses or money. For your own sanity you need to decide how far you are willing to pursue this before you walk away. Don't throw good money after bad. Don't let her mess with your head any more than she has done already. Don't allow her to make you the scapegoat of her lies.
                      All these things are easier said than done. Sadly, I think this friendship is over and you are going to have to work very hard not to get sucked into more of the saga.


                      • #12
                        I totally agree with " Don't throw good money after bad". Exit quickly.
                        My mom didn't raise no jellybean salesman!