The horse with the White Tail: a Veterinarian's Tale

Dr. Knopf with a miniature horse foal

Over the Thanksgiving weekend Dr. Knopf showed me a text message that she received from a colleague, which (loosely quoted) said: 
"I performed a PPE [editor's note, pre-purchase exam] on two horses for buyer in TX.  I texted the buyer when complete.  Buyer asked about results of horse with white tail. [Insert mild expletive here], I never did a PPE on a horse with a white tail!"

The Backstory
The vet arrived at the barn and asked for the two horses being sold to the particular out-of-state buyer.  She was given two horses for the pre-purchase, though as was unfortunately discovered later, the vet was given only one correct horse and had not been given the "horse with the white tail."


Who will pay the vet for the PPE on the wrong horse? 
The buyer will understandably say she is only going to pay for the PPE for the horses she is buying. 
Whether it was the barn owner, a trainer, or a groom that got the horses out for the vet, that party will likely claim it wasn't his/ her fault, s/he wasn't given sufficiently clear information on the horse, or that s/he didn't have any responsibility to get the horses out, and most importantly, s/he will not be stuck with the vet bill. 
Without more facts it is difficult to know who is at fault, or at what percentage; perhaps the barn was responsible to provide the right horses, or the vet needed to get more information from the buyer ahead of time.

What if the wrong horse was sent to Texas?
This is surprisingly not uncommon- when the wrong horse is sent to a buyer's barn.  This is sometimes done deliberately, such as fraudulent buyers who intentionally misrepresent the horse being sold.  But more often this is done accidentally or negligently.  In general, the person who committed the wrong would pay for the transport of the horse to return it to the barn and would bear the risk of loss of the horse while it is in transport.  
Many international horse sale disputes have arisen when the buyer claims the wrong horse was sent, but the seller asserts that it sent the correct horse.  This issue has become increasingly common with Internet sales.

Preventative Steps: Oral and Written Communication!
Your Purchase and Sale Agreement must fully and adequately describe the horse to be sold (tattoos, brands, chips, distinctive markings).  This Agreement can be given to the vet for his/ her records prior to performing the PPE.  An added benefit is that the vet will understand from the Agreement the intended purpose of the horse or what guarantees have or have not been made.
At the very least, the buyer should clearly specify to the vet when ordering the PPE which horses are to be examined.  Finally, sending photos to your vet of the right horse can always be helpful, though be sure to capture in the photo a unique detail.... such as a white tail.


You know you're a horse person when....




In addition to horses and riding, my list of gratitude includes my family, my health, and the freedom to pursue life, liberty, and happiness (clearly, I am also grateful for our U.S. Constitution!)

Happy Thanksgiving!


500 Bucks: Selling a Horse without Documentation


On an amazingly warm Fall day, Bella in a sun halo pretending she is saintly
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An estate planning lawyer in my building stopped into my office yesterday evening and asked, "can someone legally sell a horse without a contract or papers? Because that's what my client just did today."

Because horses are for the most part considered property, you can legally sell a horse without written documentation.  However, if the horse is registered then the registration papers should be transferred. Furthermore, certain equine organizations like USEF require written documentation to transfer show points a horse has accrued and to transfer ownership of the horse under the horse's registration number.

The lawyer further said, "oh, the owner of the horse died and his kids don't know anything about horses so they sold it today for 500 bucks to some place where it will live with chickens and goats and such.  They said the horse isn't worth anything and it took them over an hour to get it into the trailer."

If the horse wasn't being knowingly sold for an illegal purpose (such as abusive uses), then selling that horse for "500 bucks" without papers is legal.  But not recommended.

What would you do if you find out the horse you sold is not being used for the intended purpose?  Like this case: the seller thought her horse was just going to a happy permanent home, unfortunately that oral understanding was breached, but without written documentation there is virtually no recourse. (Case sent to me by Stacey over at the Jumping Percheron).

Or what happens if someone is injured or killed on the horse and the injured person wants to sue the owner? You claim the horse had already been sold, but the buyers say that the sale was not yet complete.  This happened in a case with a green-broke horse named Mary Mae.  "The court held that the sale had occurred prior to the injury, despite the obligation to train, and despite the fact that the registration papers were not executed and transferred until a later date."
A common clause in a purchase and sale contract is a specification of when transfer of ownership, and who bears the risk of loss, occurs.

There are so many issues that can arise when a horse is sold without documentation that you owe it to yourself as a seller or buyer, and you owe it to the horse being sold, to memorialize the sale in writing, signed by the parties.  Even if the horse is only worth "500 bucks."

Bella Brand Bran Brew: Compounding a (legal) Problem

Cooking is not high on my list of things I like to do.  Generally I would rather be cleaning tack or mucking stalls than standing over a stove or hovering near an oven.

However, I have one recipe that always receives rave reviews - my speciality bran mash - the horses love it.  Bella's teeth are of course regularly checked and floated, but she has a tendency to quid and spit her grain and supplements out on the ground, so bran mash works best for her.

Disclaimer: There are health concerns and evaluations that must be made with any feeding or graining program, and brans can have their own evils, so be sure to check what is best for your horse.

Bella generally receives a flaky wheat bran mixed with a 'senior horse' pelleted feed, her supplements, and garlic powder (an herb that serves as a fly-biting deterrent).  Other mashes I make may consist of rice bran or beet pulp, though the latter requires longer soaking times.  I mix it all together with warm water, let it soak for a couple minutes, serve, and am met with a happy customer....


But did you know that I could not offer for sale "Bella Brand Bran Brew" to other equestrians without first complying with all necessary licenses and regulations?
I knew an equestrian trainer who mixed together different feeds and grains and offered them for sale to her students and riding friends as a stable mix geared for horses with different nutritional needs, such as the performance horse, the retired horse, the "insert here type of" horse, etc.

This is in breach of US Department of Agriculture laws which require the seller acquire a license to be a "pet food manufacturer."  After that license is obtained through your state's Department of Agriculture, approval with the FDA must be met to establish that it is labeled correctly and meets other requirements.

This is a good site for those of you who harbor dreams of concocting and distributing (which can include giving free handouts or selling) your personal brand of horse feed or cookies.

In addition to my equine bran mashes I have also tried my hand at molasses oat horse cookies (though with less success because they require an oven).

Do you have a favorite horse recipe you make at home?  Would you ever consider distributing it?