What can you do if an Owner won't take back his horse? PART 2

You wouldn't think it would pop up all that often...you have someone else's horse and you want the owner to take it back, but the owner refuses to accept their own horse! 
Because horses are expensive, an owner often wants the burden of care to be on someone- anyone!- else.  Such cases are quite numerous, so the issue deserves a follow-up post.  We discussed this issue once before in the post, "What can you do if an Owner won't take back his horse?"

A wonderful reader sent us the following story (re-used on the blog with permission; names have been removed; edits limited to editorial purposes only):

I came across a craigslist ad saying something along the lines of, "Beautiful TB in Foal with APHA/A PintoHA registered Sire, for Free lease." So, I called the owner, to get more info. I was in the market for a horse. I had been looking at foals, for a while, but they were either too expensive, or too many stipulations.
The woman said, if I take care of her TB mare, while she is in mare, pay bills, vet, board, feed, ALL and care, I can keep her foal. So, I said,"great!"

I asked her to write a contract. She said she would bring it, when she delivers the mare. The mare was 7 months pregnant, at the time. I asked what shots she needed, and do I need to know anything about her. She told me what feed and she is UTD on shots, but will need her Rhino, in a month.

So, the mare was delivered, by the owner. The owner, "forgot," the contract, but said she would mail it to me. Ok. I have been taking amazing care of the mare. I would send the owner emails every month or more, updating her or asking her questions. She got back to me, in a timely manner.

The mare had her foal on March 20th. The foal is going to be 3 months, soon. The mare is severely underweight. Not because I'm not feeding her enough, but because she is old (23!) which I had no idea she was that old. The owner said she has always been a broodmare, never used for riding.

Foal and mare were very healthy, at birth. The foal is almost the same size as his mom! He is eating solids, eating hay and drinking water. I have tried everything to get the mare healthy, but nothing is helping.

The owner asked me, since I'm taking such good care of the mare, would I want to keep her. I told her I can't give her the time and I don't have the funds, for both horses. So, I said, "No."

This is when she started not answering emails. I let her know the mare is very underweight, and she said not to worry. That was one of the last emails, from her.

I have strangers commenting on how bad the mare looks, and the pony riding business at our barn believes it risks having their business license taken away due to the mare's condition.

My vet suggested I start slowly weaning. I contacted the owner many times, letting her know, she needs to come get the mare, but she won't reply.

I want to call the police, in her town, to see if they can contact her, and let her know she needs to take her horse back. It is her horse.  The mare needs to go home, now.

In the previous post we discussed that using the terms of the written lease agreement would be the most helpful. In this situation there isn't a written agreement (remember what this post said, one of the Three Most Common Contract Errors is not using a contract...though I understand how difficult it can be to get one before the horse transaction occurs!).  The previous post also provided options through the court system, and while still viable, can cost you time and money.  So here are some further options moving forward:

1. Follow the steps you would with an abandoned animal (notice to owner, notifying appropriate authorities)
2. Send a certified letter to the owner notifying that board payments will commence 30 days from the notice, and the owner will be invoiced monthly, accruing interest for late payment
3. Commence a small claims action against the owner for monies due to you for caring for the property of another
4. Send the owner a Bill of Sale, Assignment of Ownership, or Transfer of Title requesting the owner sign and return to you.  This absolves the owner of all further liability and you can then euthanize the horse if medically necessary, or otherwise donate or find a new home for the horse.

Be sure to send in your story of trials and triumphs to help educate your fellow horsemen and women about how to better practice law equine law in your everyday horse lives!
Send to: RibbonsandRedTape {at} gmail {dot} com