5 Ways to Legally Protect Stable when Horse Boarder has Riding Guests

 

by Gabriella Cellarosi Daniel, Esq,

What should a stable consider to protect itself when a horse boarder has a guest that frequently rides their horse? Often that guest may even ride more frequently than the horse boarder? There is no boarding agreement executed with this person because they are not the party paying for the horse and its upkeep.

In light of this atypical relationship, how should a stable owner proceed?  

This scenario presents an unusual circumstance since the horse boarder with whom the stable has the boarding agreement is not the person who is regularly riding the horse on the premises. Rather, it is the “authorized guest”– the person who is frequently out at the stable, riding and handling the horse.

5 Equine Legal Documents

In this type of situation, there are some clauses and documents to consider:

1. Liability Release: As with all guests, the authorized guest/rider should execute an Equine Activity Release and Hold Harmless Agreement before riding and having any contact with the horse. Make sure to include state-specific statutes, as appropriate.

For example, Kentucky requires the following language in written contracts:

“WARNING”: Under Kentucky law, a farm animal activity sponsor, farm animal professional, or other person does not have the duty to eliminate all risks of injury of participation in farm animal activities. There are inherent risks of injury that you voluntarily accept if you participate in farm animal activities.” (See, KRS Section 247.402).

Also, consider incorporating into this document that the rider/authorized guest agrees to be responsible for following the stable’s rules, checking fit and condition of tack prior to mounting, and wearing a properly fitted and adjusted ASTM/SEI approved helmet at all times when mounted.

As with other contracts, make sure that adults execute on behalf of minors. This document may also include a choice of venue and law if litigation is filed, as well as a provision for attorneys’ fees. Litigation is a reality of the equestrian sport.

2. Farm rules: Farm rules and conditions are to ensure the safety of riders and horse, as well as ensure the smooth operation of the farm. Consider making the “farm rules” a separate document that both the horse boarder and the authorized guest/rider must execute separately, agreeing to abide by such rules. It may be smart option to include language that if the stable determines that the owner’s guest failed to abide by the stable’s rules that the stable can terminate the boarding agreement, or take such other action as it deems appropriate.

3. The Owner’s Boarding Agreement: It also may be a good option to tailor the boarding agreement to be more “expansive” in this regard. For example, to include in the boarding agreement that the horse owner (boarder) accepts responsibility for the conduct of his/her guests and that they act in accordance with the prescribed farm rules. Further, that the owner agrees to hold harmless and indemnify the stable against among other things, claims/losses/injuries alleged or sustained by a person caused by or arising from the actions (or inaction) of an owner’s guests.

4. Emergency Contact Information Sheet (human): In the event of the unexpected, illness, or injury, ensure that the authorized guest/rider has executed a human emergency contact sheet. This is likely not a document that one would request with a one-time-only guest. Provisions to include on this sheet are the basics (name, horse riding, owner of the horse, contact information, etc.). Also, consider requesting the contact information for two emergency contacts, whether it is acceptable to contact an ambulance in the event of an emergency, and potentially insurance information, as appropriate.

5. Permission and accompanied by the horse boarder? Sometimes boarding agreements and/or farm rules are written such that a guest may only come on the premises with permission and must be accompanied by the horse boarder. Consider your position on this.

The pros: stable knows who is on the premises and has control; cons: horse boarders are paying for a service and the “experience” and while he/she may be agreeable to being responsible for guest, he/she may not want to contact you every time a guest wants to come out to the stable, particularly if the situation is that of a recurring/frequent guest that is riding/handling the horse. You may need to tailor the agreements, as appropriate.

In short, an authorized guest situation calls for attention as an individual who is riding and handling a horse on the property. Be mindful of how to balance the needs of the stable with that of the horse boarder but also taking into account the legalities of the situation.

 


This article does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the author. This article is not a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
 

Equestrians, Are You Wearing Your Riding Helmet Correctly?

Helmet Fit

by Bonnie Navin, Esq.  

Wearing a riding helmet is the first step to preventing head injuries when horseback riding, but wearing a properly fitted helmet is even more important.

As a plaintiff attorney, calls to my office have increased from injured equestrians or family members of injured riders. Often they question whether their head injuries are the result of a failed helmet design.

Also a competitive rider, I recently sought to purchase a new helmet, but after the experience, I found I had more questions than answers. I walked in, told the tack shop owner what I wanted — and they pointed me to the wall of helmets.

No one offered to “fit” the helmet for me nor did anyone provide written instructions on the proper fitting. I also found no instructions in the helmet’s box. I was curious to see that an employee was assisting a parent of two children looking for riding helmets. The comments the tack store employee offered really caused me concern.

First, the tack store worker told the mother the helmet should have some “give” so it doesn’t give the child have a headache. Additionally, she said the chin strap rests on the rider’s chin and not underneath. Both tips contradict helmet manufacturer recommendations.

While every helmet may not be designed in the manner it should be, some injuries are the result of the safety device not being worn properly. Pick up an equine magazine or look on the internet and it isn’t hard to find photos of top professionals clearly wearing their helmets incorrectly.

For those who ride with their hair up in a pony-tail and also down – did you know you should own TWO helmets? One helmet cannot fit properly with both hairstyles. An approved riding helmet is designed to fit in a locked manner on your head. It locks in a few different ways.

-The headband should be tight around your head.
-The chin strap should allow for one finger width under your chin to the harness.
-The helmet should rest two-finger-widths above your brow.
-Fit the helmet from behind to be sure it is tight across the back of your skull base and neck.
Helmets are tested on the one hit theory, meaning if you suffer a fall and your helmet strikes the ground it should be replaced. Did you know if you keep your receipt and information from your helmet purchase that if you need a replacement most reputable helmet companies will provide a replacement either free or at a reduced price?

Traumatic brain injuries can lead to damages in the millions of dollars. So who is responsible to ensure an equestrian’s helmet has been correctly fitted?Responsibility first lies with the manufacturer to ensure the helmet has been designed and tested to reduce the amount of damage to the rider. Next, the manufacturer must include either written instructions or a short video to explain how the helmet is to be worn.

The store owner selling the helmet is required to train their staff on how to properly assist their buyers on the proper fitting of the helmet.

Horse trainers and others who hold themselves out as professionals in the industry must ensure their clients are wearing their helmet in the manner in which it is intended. Some trainers see their riders do not wear a properly fitted helmet, but do nothing to correct the situation. Should the rider fall and the helmet either not work or cause further injury, the trainer could be held liable.

Show officials, including stewards, that witness a rider wearing a helmet incorrectly have a duty to counsel the rider to correct the fit. Many show managers hide behind the rider release to release their liability on this topic, however, that is a false sense of security in many instances.

Like any other piece of riding equipment, adult riders and the parents of young equestrians have the responsibility to understand how helmets should be worn.

Even if you haven’t had a fall, but your helmet is old, it may be time to get a new one. Helmet manufacturers recommend replacing your helmet every 3 to 5 years. For more information regarding your helmet’s specifications go to the manufacturer’s website for additional information.

Legal Tip

If you are questioning whether your helmet was improperly designed after a fall with a resulting head injury, be sure you retain the helmet. It is important to package the safety device so no one can adjust or change the helmet.

Do not put the helmet back on your head. How you wore that helmet at the time of the fall will be called into immediate question and having the helmet will assist the review of a possible claim should the design be called into question.

 

McLain Ward, HH Azure Capture Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Title

Ward’s Elusive Title

by Dana Rossmeier

On his 17th attempt, McLain Ward with HH Azur won the 2017 Longines FEI World Cup Final title Sunday.

The crowd was electric at Omaha’s CenturyLink Center when Ward captured the title (click play on photo above to watch). The 2016 Rio Olympic team silver medalist combination jumped five consecutive clean rounds to secure the win that eluded him his entire career.

Switzerland’s Romain Duguet and Sweden’s Henrik Von Eckermann finished second and third, respectively. Seven additional U.S. combinations joined Ward, who all put forth great effort despite varying levels of experience.

“I’ve been a fighter, digger, and grinder my whole career. I try never to give up and try to keep working at it. The team works at it, and today’s just a culmination of a lot of people’s hard work,” said Ward.

A total of 26 combinations, including four U.S. combinations, advanced to Sunday’s Jumping Final where two rounds determined the champion. One rail separated the top three keeping the competition extremely tight.

Switzerland’s Romain Duguet went clear to remain on four penalties putting extra pressure on Ward for a clear round. Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet had one rail, which put him at seven penalty points, overall, giving Ward extra breathing room. Resting on zero penalties heading into the first round of competition, the crowd watched in excitement and anticipation as Ward (Brewster, N.Y.) and Double H Farm & Francois Mathy’s 2006 Belgian Warmblood mare took the course on. Ward and HH Azur delivered a clean round to move to the second round still in the lead.

Charlie Jacobs (Boston, Mass.) with Cassinja S, CMJ Sporthorse LLC’s 2006 Zweibrücker mare, and Laura Kraut (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) with Zeremonie, Old Willow Farms, LLC’s 2007 Holsteiner mare, joined Ward in the second round and ended with 20 and 23 penalties, respectively. After accumulating faults during each day of competition, Kraut ended on a high note with a clear round on Sunday.

“This was the first round where she actually felt like she normally does outside. She was loose and relaxed, listened to me, and was not so overwhelmed with the environment. She will come out of this with more mileage and experience, and I am looking forward to the future,” said Kraut.

Duguet continued to put the pressure on Ward by going clear in the second round to remain on four penalty points. Wathelet followed and dropped another rail giving him 11 total penalties. With no room for error, Ward and HH Azur remained focused and determined. The dependable mare gave Ward everything she had to help Ward seal the victory.

“[Owners Hunter Harrison and François Mathy] are huge father figures in my life. I learned a tremendous amount from both of them. Much of who I am is because of these two men, and to have them both own, what I consider the best horse I ever sat on in my life, it’s emotional enough,” said Ward, following his double-clear performance on Friday.

 

Business of Horses: Replacing the Handshake with Contracts

by Cathy Trope

Importance of Contracts

Horse people tend to have very traditional notions about how to do business. Many prefer talking in person or on the phone to communicating by e-mail or text. It’s not at all uncommon to meet people who feel like every deal should be made on a “handshake” and that putting things in writing is a sign you don’t trust the other party.

Of course, this makes for a spectacularly difficult situation when the other side proves not to be trustworthy. It also creates situations where there are misunderstandings about agreements more easily.

Take, for instance, hiring a groom. Your candidate has worked as a groom for several other barns and has good references. You talk on the phone, check their references and hire them, without writing up a contract or even sending an e-mail describing your expectations. It turns out the previous barns they worked for were large and well-staffed, whereas your barn is a small operation where everyone is expected to help with everything. The task list is entirely different, and the new hire balks at some of the job duties. They’ve already moved from two states away to take your job, and they’re living on your property. They ask for more money, or they flatly refuse to clean stalls, which results in you having to hire a second person, which is something you never planned on making outside your budget.

You can fire them, but they’re likely to come back at you with a legal action and request reimbursement for moving costs and other expenses. They will argue the job was misrepresented and that they took their actions based upon those misrepresentations. You have nothing in writing to show otherwise. The groom has documentation. They hold a detailed collection of receipts showing everything they spent to move to your farm and everything they spent to move out when you fired them.

Guess which party looks more believable to the judge?

Another example is the sale horse with a behavioral problem. You told the buyer that the horse pulls back when tied, and you even included that fact in the horse’s sale ad. However, you failed to disclose it in writing in the bill of sale. You also failed to send an email to the prospective buyer which included mention of the problem.

Now, let’s say the buyer gets hurt because the horse pulls back and sends a chain cross-tie flying into the buyer’s mouth. They have to have several broken teeth repaired resulting in a huge dental bill. The buyer gets an attorney, and both buyer and trainer deny that you mentioned this dangerous habit prior to the sale. You go online and try to pull up the ad where you mentioned it, but it is gone. You deleted it when the horse sold and the site didn’t save a backup copy. Unless you have additional witnesses, you have no way to prove that you disclosed the problem prior to the sale of the horse.

How can you prevent situations like these, which can easily cost you thousands of dollars in legal expenses?

Don’t Risk it

Use Contracts – and Read Your Contracts

Many horse people have contracts that they use without really understanding what their obligations are under that contract. Take the time to read what you routinely sign and make sure it makes sense and is up-to-date. Was it drafted by an attorney, or cobbled together from examples online that might include terms that are not legal in your state? Are the addresses and phone numbers correct? Is there a way to edit your contracts on the fly to put in specifics? Do you have a copy machine in the barn so that both parties get a fully signed copy of the contract to keep? (Multifunction machines are down to about $100 – there is no reason not to have one handy).

A bill of sale should include not only the horse’s description but also a description of the horse’s issues, both behavioral and physical.

A release of liability should include full contact information with several phone numbers in case of an emergency and should include a place to disclose whether a rider has any known allergies or significant health conditions that medical staff would need to know about in the event of an emergency.

Memorialize Phone and In-Person Conversations With an E-Mail

Bud stopped by while you were feeding and told you his client wanted your grey mare that she had test ridden last week. You said that was great and kept on feeding. When you get a break, send Bud an email – it will serve as a way to prove the conversation took place.

Hi Bud,

Thanks for stopping by today to tell me that Suzy Rider would like to buy Fleet Foot. As we discussed last week, the sale price is $30,000, and I agreed to take $10,000 down within 7 days (so that’ll be next Thursday, March 24, 2017) and the remainder in 8 monthly payments of $2500, due by the 5th of every month starting with May 2017 until paid. I will waive the board here until 3/24/17 but thereafter it will be $15 a day until the mare is picked up. Please let me know if Suzy would like the mare to stay in training until moved. My trainer, Jenna Jumper, charges $40/ride. Suzy is welcome to have a vet come out and inspect the mare at her expense prior to 3/24/17, and our agreement is contingent upon the mare passing for the purpose of preliminary level eventing.

Thanks! Always a pleasure doing business with you.

Look at all the information in that e-mail. There is a lot there that you probably didn’t think to discuss when you were in the middle of throwing hay.

There are also things there that you assume everybody in horses knows – but in court, judges don’t consider any information to be so obvious that it is assumed. Odds are your judge will know nothing about horses or the horse business.

An e-mail like this can do a lot to protect you when Suzy drags her heels and doesn’t pick up the mare until April 13th, and then her hauler shows up without a check to pay for the board and riding in the meantime. When you put it in writing, the other party can’t claim you didn’t tell them. It keeps things clear and stops conflicts from happening before they start.

If you receive an email like this and don’t agree with its recitation of what you agreed to, immediately send a return email.

Hi Fred,

Hey, I got your e-mail about Suzy buying Fleet Foot. I’m not sure we talked about timing, but Suzy can’t pick up that mare or make the first payment until she gets home from Europe on April 1, 2017. So let me know if that’s a problem or not. She wanted the board thrown in until April 1 – is that something you can do, since she is paying your full asking price for the mare? Everything else sounds great – I’m looking forward to having such a nice mare in my barn!

Yes, you still need a traditional bill of sale – but recording your conversations promptly in e-mail can do a lot to make sure the deal is on track and both parties are in agreement, and not confused about the terms. E-mails can also serve as evidence of the parties’ understanding of the deal at the time it was made if there is a legal conflict at some later date.

Don’t Assume – Ever

Assumptions cause a lot of conflict in the horse world.

For example, I’ve been polo grooming on and off for the past thirty years. I know that it is basically a seven-day-a-week-job. Monday might be an easy day of just feeding and basic chores, but the other 6 days are full days of work. If there’s polo on a holiday, you’re working. We all know that, right?

Don’t assume that.

When you’re hiring someone, put the expectations in writing before you hire, to ensure that the prospective candidate understands the time commitment. (Also, make sure that you do a little math and are certain that you’re not offering less than minimum wage for the work. If you’re not sure if the terms you’re offering are legal in your state, it is always cheaper to pay for a consultation with an attorney than defend a lawsuit.)

Everything that you think someone should know because it is common sense ought to be put in writing. I guarantee, the person is out there who doesn’t know (or doesn’t have common sense!) The more you put in writing, the fewer headaches you will have and the more money you will save.

 


 

This is solely informative in nature and not intended as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed equine attorney in your state. This is general information intended to educate horse owners about basic equine legal issues and when they should seek equine law counsel. 

Looking for an equine lawyer? click here

 

Decoding Horse Sales Fraud

by Avery S. Chapman, Esq.

The scenario is repeated all-too-often in the equine industry. A private individual or entity purchases one or more horses, only to find later the horse has some sort of veterinary or behavioral defect that was not disclosed, but known, by the seller.

The question left for the purchaser, if the matter is not worked out amicably, is how to proceed. Do you sue for breach of contract, for fraud in the inducement, for negligent misrepresentation or other non-contract theory of recovery? Do you sue the seller’s agent, and if so, under what theory of recovery?

That question then turns to further analysis as to whether the tortious conduct, such as deceptive representations or misrepresentations, occurred prior to entering into the contract for the purchase and sale of the horse, or as part of the breach of the contract.

If there was bad conduct by the seller, or seller’s agent, prior to the contract, to induce the buyer to enter into the contract to purchase the animals or upon which the buyer justifiably relied to enter into the contract, then the buyer may proceed in both contract and tort concurrently.

If the complaint is only that the horse’s defect was a breach of seller’s performance of the contract, such as the horse could not jump as high or run as long as represented, then a principle of law called the Economic Loss Doctrine may mean that you only can proceed with breach of contract against the party with whom you made the contract.

That Rule holds that if your only damages arise from the breach of the contract and the conduct surrounding the breach is the same as would support other tort claims, then you can only proceed for breach of contract against a party with whom you contracted.  However, if the conduct complained-of predated the formation of the contract, then you might also be able to proceed in tort against that party.

An example might be a breach of contract and fraud action against a seller who represented they had the right to sell a horse when that person did not have the legal right to do so. As well, the seller’s agent, while not being exposed to a breach of contract claim, because the agent is not the one entering into the contract, is still exposed the tort claims such as fraudulent inducement or negligent misrepresentation.

As one esteemed jurist put it: “When one party to the contract sits at the bargaining table with deceit in his heart, all bets are off.”

To appreciate the consideration to be given to choosing theories of recovery in horse purchase cases, first note that in 2013, the Economic Loss Rule was significantly contracted by the Florida Supreme Court and expressly limited only to products liability cases

Since 2013, state courts (Alabama, Florida, and Georgia) and federal courts of the 11th Circuit have focused on whether a tort claim alleging fraud or misrepresentation, when brought alongside a contract claim, was “independent” of that breach of contract claim.

In Georgia, for example, in a case about the ownership of two white-handed Gibbons, the Court stated “We cannot conclude that the district court erred in granting judgment as a matter of law in favor of defendants with respect to plaintiff’s tort claims…we readily conclude that there is no evidence of a pre-contractual misrepresentation.”

However, other courts have found that fraud in the inducement to form a contract occurs where a party’s ability “to negotiate or make informed decisions” is impaired by the pre-contractual fraudulent conduct of the other contracting party, then a party harmed may bring both a breach of contract and a fraud claim and not run afoul of the Economic Loss Doctrine.

If you are feeling confused you are not alone.  Many courts have the same problem discerning just what the Economic Loss Rule allows or does not allow in their state.  The good news is that courts tend to want to see claims tried on their merits.  Therefore, given the lack of clarity of the economic loss rule, many courts will defer addressing this doctrine at the early stage of court proceedings (such as in a motion to dismiss or motion for summary judgment) and will allow contract and tort claims to proceed concurrently against the breaching party.

This means the horse buyer can proceed on theories of torts of fraud and negligence tort as well as breach of contract and will survive a motion to dismiss, when the conduct complained of includes fraudulent or negligent misconduct before the breach of the contract which affects the ability of the non-breaching party to make an informed choice to contract.  That will expose the seller to multiple claims and may lead to a settlement or a verdict against the seller.

 


Avery S. Chapman, Esq. of Equine Law Group, LLC, practices from his offices in Wellington, Florida where he counsels members of the equine communities on a wide range of matters including asset protection, contractual disputes, business formation and dissolution, land use and development, insurance coverage questions and general liability issues. He practices in numerous states and federal courts and can be reached through ascesq1@cs.com or www.equinelawgroup.com.

Understanding Care, Custody or Control Insurance in Equine Industry

 

by Avery S. Chapman, Esq. 

All is well in the world. As an equine professional, you have care, custody, and control over others’ horses. As an owner, you have entrusted your horses to a professional. Each believes that in case of a misadventure, exposure or losses that they are adequately covered by an Excess Personal Liability Insurance (“EPL”) policy issued by your equine sport’s governing body. Guess again.

A review of certain master policies reveals that care, custody or control (“CCC”) is expressly excluded from coverage. Further, CCC policies only cover damage to the horse and not damage to third parties.

The Care, Custody or Control Exclusion

Whoa. Full halt. What’s that? Let me explain. In almost all commercial general liability policies (“CGL”) and most EPL policies issued by equine governing organizations to their members, there is an exclusion for coverage of property in one’s “care, custody or control.”

This means that the policy with such an exclusion does not cover damage to or liability caused by the personal property of another that is in your care, custody or control. Remember, a horse is considered “personal property” in this context. So, putting it another way, if you have care, custody or control of a horse owned by another, and while you do, that horse is hurt or hurts someone or something, let’s say, by breaking out of its paddock and running down a busy street, you are responsible for the damage to the horse and may not be insured against that damage. As well, you are not covered for the harm to any third parties or their property by that errant horse. On the other side, if you are the owner of that errant horse, you may find your trainer to whom you entrusted the care, custody or control of the horse, does not have insurance for the mishap.

Wait you say, why would a CGL or EPL policy exclude such a possibility? To understand that, you have to think like an insurance company. An insurance company is in the business of making money from premiums and sets those premiums from an understanding of what risks the insurance company is assuming. For example, this is why a 17-year old’s auto insurance is more expensive than a 47-year old’s auto insurance. The company understands the risk is decreased as a person matures and has more experience behind the wheel.

In the same vein, insurance companies typically exclude care, custody or control from CGL and EPL policies, only to include coverage back in after an insured specifically discloses in writing what activities the insured is undertaking. Once the insurance company has reviewed those disclosed activities, the company can price the premium according to the risk the company believes it is undertaking by insuring the activity. The company is weighing the likelihood of a mishap in a given activity against the profit to be gained by earning the premium by insuring the activity.

In the equine industry, this means disclosure of the type of equine discipline, sport, activity and whether it is commercial or personal. Insurance companies are reluctant to cover equine professionals and equine activities until the company understands the conditions of the care, custody, and control and hence the risk being assumed by the insurance company. Therefore, the broad CGL and EPL policies you may receive as a benefit for being a member of an equine organization likely do not include coverage for care, custody or control.

Now that you have that down, a word on the definition of care, custody or control. First, there is the scope of the definition. Care, custody or control applies to personal property, that is, movable property that is not real estate or buildings. It does not matter if the personal property is owned by an individual or a business, it is all personal property if you can move it. (For you deep thinkers, a fence is not considered personal property because once it is installed, it is considered a fixture of the real property on which it rests, even if you can relocate the fence line).[irp]

Care, Custody or Control Defined

The next question goes to the definition of the words care, custody or control. A leading insurance industry trade group, the International Risk Management Institute, notes that the definition of care, custody or control is dependent upon the jurisdiction and court giving the definition: “In some cases, CCC has been determined to entail physical possession of the property; in others, any party with a legal obligation to exercise care with respect to property has been deemed to have that property in its CCC.” The definition often turns on the facts of each particular case. American Family Mut. Ins. Co. v. William J. Bentley, 352 N.E.2d 860 (Ind. App. 1976).

One state supreme court has observed: “The care, custody and control clause in liability policies, so far as our research has extended, appears to be almost universally used, but its construction is, to a large extent, dependent upon circumstances of each case and we conclude that the phrase should be applied with common sense and practicality. Hardware Mut. Cas. Co. v. Crafton, 350 S.W.2d 506 (Ark. 1961).

For example in one case, liability for damage to a truck harmed by the collapse of a building while under the supervision of the dairy at the time of the collapse, was imputed to the dairy because the Court determined that supervising the truck meant that the truck was under the care, custody, or control of the dairy. Therefore, the Court applied the CCC exclusion. Paul Madden v. Vitamilk Dairy, Inc. & Continental Cas. Co., 367 P.2d 127 (Wash. 1961).

In contrast. Merely giving permission to park on a lot a trailer which is later destroyed by fire does not trigger the existence of “care” and therefore does not trigger the CCC exclusion. Rochester Woodcraft Shop, Inc. v. General Acc. Fire & Life Assur. Corp. Ltd., 35 A.D. 186, 187 (N.Y. App. Div., 3d Dept., 1970).

Turning, then, to the meanings of the CCC words:

“Care” may be defined as having temporary charge of the property. Hardware Mutual, supra.

“Custody” may be defined as a keeping or guarding and a necessity for an accounting Hardware Mutual, supra.

“Control” may be defined as having the ability or authority to affect the property. Vitamilk Dairy, supra.

Note also that the words are in the disjunctive, joined by the word “or” meaning that any one of them is sufficient to trigger liability and trigger the CCC exclusion.

So What Do I Do Now?

If you are a professional taking care, custody or control over others’ horses, you should first have your own CCC insurance to cover damage to those horses and to cover defense costs for such harm. Typically, such CCC policies are priced on a per-horse basis and cover accidents and sickness, but not mortality.

In addition, you should both: (a) insist the horses’ owner(s) obtain their own mortality policies (or specifically contract that right away); and (b) obtain your own umbrella policy to cover mishaps involving harm to third parties.

If you are an owner entrusting a horse to another, you should: (a) insist the other person has its own CCC policy and request to see it; (b) keep your mortality insurance in place while the horse is not with you; and (c) keep your own umbrella policy in place to guard against the failure of the other person to maintain the proper insurance.

In addition, whether professional or amateur, trainer or owner, there are various liability and asset protection strategies you should deploy as you conduct business in the equine community. Consult an equine attorney familiar with those constructs before a problem arises, because closing the barn doors after the horses get out is never useful.


Avery S. Chapman, Esq. of Equine Law Group, LLC, practices from his offices in Wellington, Florida where he counsels members of the equine communities on a wide range of matters including asset protection, contractual disputes, business formation and dissolution, land use and development, insurance coverage questions and general liability issues. He practices in numerous states and federal courts and can be reached through ascesq1@cs.com or through www.equinelawgroup.com
 
 

Saving Nova: The Therapy Horse Helping Kids

 

by Nik Hawkins

Some therapy animals provide comfort for strangers. But others, like Nova, a 12-year-old Morgan Arab cross, focus on their families.

Nova is one of seven hors­es that live with Clint and Tish Carlson, their five adopted chil­dren, and their two foster children, in La Valle, Wisconsin. Like several of his stablemates, Nova is a rescue horse, and it might explain why he has such a strong connection with the Carlson children. Ranging in ages from 7 to 16, they have all left behind difficult circumstances for better lives, but mental scars still linger. Nova gives them what they need to cope.

“The kids work with Nova and our other horses – brush­ing, riding, feeding,” says Clint Carlson. “It helps soothe them and gives them a sense of re­sponsibility, and it shows them compassion and love.”

Although the Carlsons are not formally trained in any form of equine-assisted therapy, Tish says she plans to pursue certification in the fu­ture, and they witness Nova’s calming influence on their children every day.

“Nova loves to work,” says Tish Carlson. “It doesn’t matter what crazy thing they ask him to do, he does it without hesitation.”

But one night in May 2015, the Carlsons found themselves in serious jeopardy of losing their treasured horse and all the good he brings to the family.

“The kids went out to feed Nova, and normally he’s in our bottom field, but he was right at the door right away,” says Clint Carlson. “He was acting strange and poking his nose at his side.”

Knowing this could be a sign of colic or abdominal pain they called Dr. Suzanne McKichan, a 2009 graduate of the UW School of Veterinary Medicine, at Dells Equine, who drove out to exam­ine Nova. McKichan determined the most likely culprit was an in­testinal blockage, but after trying several methods to get him to pass whatever was lodged in his bowels, an endoscopy showed he was still backed up. Thinking a major sur­gery might be in Nova’s future, she referred the Carlsons to UW School of Veterinary Medicine.

“He wasn’t responding to painkillers, and after a thorough abdominal examination, we found significant small intestinal disten­sion or bloating,” says Dr. Sam Morello. “We later confirmed this with ultrasound.”

The ultrasound also revealed what looked like a “bull’s eye le­sion”—two concentric circles on the interior surface of the ab­domen—suggesting that part of Nova’s small intestine was telescoping into another. This con­dition, called intussusception, can cause major blockages and intense pain. In addition, an analysis of Nova’s abdominal fluid showed elevated levels of lactate and a particular protein, both of which suggested some of the tissue in his intestine was not being prop­erly infused with blood. All signs pointed to surgery as the only so­lution, but it quickly became much more complicated than a typical colic operation.

“We found a large mass in his abdomen that turned out to be a significant portion of his small intestine, folded up like an ac­cordion,” says Morello. “It was so thickened and stuck that we couldn’t straighten it out to evalu­ate the integrity of the tissue.”

The blood flow to the involved bowel was compromised, and that portion of the intestine could not be salvaged, so Morello and large animal surgery resident Dr. Russ Freeland elected to remove it.

“We were surprised and scared at first,” says Clint Carlson. “But Nova’s young, he’s a great horse, and he does so well with the kids, so we knew it was something we had to try.”

colic surgery removal of portion of small intestine
Surgeons removed a part of Nova’s small intestine.

The procedure took several hours, during which Morello and Freedland removed nearly 28 feet of bowel. They also discovered and removed the cause of Nova’s condition. According to pathologists Dr. Jennifer Dreyfus and Dr. Renee Richmond, it was a leiomyoma, which is a fairly rare and benign tumor. The growth was attached to the jejunum, the longest and most coiled part of the equine small intestine, where it was interrupting the natural movements of the organ, causing the bowel to telescope into itself.

Given the large amount of bowel lost—the most Morello has ever had to remove—she was concerned that complications might hinder Nova’s recovery. He had mild episodes of colic in the first week, and he developed ileus, a condition where the bowel stops moving properly due to damage and inflammation. When left untreated, this may allow the intestine to stick to other internal organs. But after plenty of fluids, pain medication, and anti-inflammatories, Nova pulled through and went home a short nine days after he arrived.

“He had a great recovery, considering the severity of his condition,” says Morello. “He came into it in excellent shape, which served him well.”

Nova has been back home in La Valle ever since, and he’s eased his way back into his former role as a therapy horse. The only major difference now is his diet. Now that he has to get by with a lot less surface area for absorbing nutrients, malnutrition is a concern. So the Carlson’s supplement his diet with a high-calorie, easily digested feed, which he’s taken to well. Nova is doing so well that the oldest Carlson child is preparing to enter him in a 4-H horse show.

“I’m extremely happy with how everything turned out,” says Clint Carlson.

And so are the Carlson kids.

MRI Key to Diagnosing Dressage Horse’s Lameness

 

by Louisa Shepard 

While in their second dressage show together, Caitlin MacGuinness noticed that her new mount, Lagato, seemed to be a bit lame on the right front leg, but only when turned sharply to the right.

The farrier did her feet that week, and Legato, known as Lexi, improved. MacGuinness chalked it up to a shoeing imbalance, but gave the big Warmblood mare the winter off, just in case.

“I checked her now and then, circling to the right, and she seemed fine, so I thought it was one and done,” MacGuinness said. “When I started riding her again in the spring, she seemed fine at first, but then all of a sudden she started to look lame to the right.“

Again, the farrier came out, and Lexi improved. But then she rapidly deteriorated, lame not just on the right turn, but also while going straight, even at a walk.

MacGuinness brought Lexi to New Bolton Center in April where she works as a patient care technician on the barn nursing staff.

Radiographs didn’t show anything remarkable in the right front foot, said Dr. David Levine, Assistant Professor of Large Animal Surgery. He recommended a scan with New Bolton Center’s new MRI system, designed specifically for obtaining high-quality images in horses.Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for horses Lexi was the first patient to use the new system, which arrived in June.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used primarily for soft-tissue injuries associated with lameness, but it also detects bone injury.

“We diagnosed a condition using the MRI that we could not otherwise have diagnosed in that part of the foot,” Levine said.

The diagnosis: Adhesions of the deep-digital-flexor tendon to the navicular bone in the right front foot. The solution: minimally invasive surgery, a “navicular bursoscopy,” to break down the adhesions.

The navicular bone aids in the gliding of the deep-digital-flexor tendon over the coffin joint (distal-interphalangeal joint) in the foot, Levine said. “It is a very important area, and a very frequent cause of lameness that can be difficult to diagnose without MRI,” he said.

Getting a diagnosis was helpful, MacGuinness said, so she could make an informed decision on how to best treat Lexi, rather than just MRI shows horse Adhesions of the deep-digital-flexor tendon to the navicular boneputting her on stall rest and hoping the lameness would resolve. “Without it, we probably still wouldn’t know what was going on in there.”

Dr. Levine performed the surgery in September. “We were able to give Caitlin a diagnosis and prognosis, and an option for treatment,” he said. “I gave her a realistic outlook on what her horse’s future would be, and we performed surgery to address the problem.”

MacGuiness is an experienced dressage rider and trainer, and currently owns four horses, in partnership with her mother and aunt. Lexi was a dressage prospect, chosen for her willing nature, smooth ride, and 16.3-hand frame. The Saddlebred/Dutch Warmblood-cross has a stunning presentation – super-dark bay, almost black, with four dramatic white socks.

A pre-purchase exam was clean, and she was in full training for nearly a year when she came up lame, MacGuinness said. The cause of her injury remains a mystery.

And Lexi’s future is still uncertain. MacGuinness brought her back to New Bolton Center the first week of November for a recheck. Levine injected the distal-interphalangeal joint with an anti-inflammatory and sent her back home for continued rehabilitation.

“The prognosis is still guarded,” MacGuiness said. “At least with the surgery she has a chance, because without it, she wouldn’t have.”

6 Considerations of a Lease-to-Buy Horse Sales Agreement

Contract Must Haves

by Gabriella Cellarosi Daniel, Esq.

A client recently came to me after leasing an Appendix Quarter Horse for her daughter and asked me to draft a “lease-to-buy” equine agreement. She was not in a position financially to buy the horse outright and she had some hesitation about the “inflexibility” component of horse ownership – i.e. knowing that it sometimes can be easier to lease than to buy (less commitment), and, of course, the difficulty of selling a horse when the time comes.

She was about to enter into another lease agreement for the upcoming year, and after two years of successful leases, she decided she really liked the horse and potentially wanted to buy the animal.  Now that she thought there was a substantial likelihood that she would buy the horse eventually, she wanted her monthly lease payments to go toward the final purchase price of the horse.

Before you decide to enter into such an agreement, consider the benefits and what can go wrong.

Horse Lease

Generally, the parties will enter into a standard lease agreement that specifies a monthly payment for use of the horse. Time frames can vary from months to years. The parties will also have an agreed upon purchase price for the horse which if/when the time comes, the buyer will pay for the horse. To purchase the horse, the buyer will pay the full purchase price during the lease term.

During this time, the buyer will continue making lease payments per the parties’ agreement, which will potentially go toward the total purchase price of the horse. If/when the buyer wants to purchase the horse, the buyer will pay the purchase price reduced by the amount of lease payments to date. If the buyer decides not to purchase the horse, all of the lease payments made will remain with the seller.

The benefits to the seller include that they are receiving monthly payments for the horse and essentially having a locked in sales price on the horse.

The benefits to the buyer include that if they do not have the full amount ready for purchase of the horse, a lease-to-buy set up accelerates the path to ownership of the horse. It also provides the buyer with an extended trial period on the horse, giving the buyer a higher level of security when the horse is purchased because it has been through its paces over a period of time. The buyer likely will have had the opportunity to assess the horse over a period of time, including seeing the horse’s temperament in a variety of situations, as well as soundness and health issues. Finally, it gives the buyer flexibility. Perhaps the buyer would be leasing regardless and this route provides a sensible option if the horse is indeed “the horse” so the money goes toward something.

Before entering into this type of agreement here are six points you should take into consideration.

1.Do not Forget the Purchase Price

Fees and payment obligations are of critical importance in equine sales agreements. Make sure that you agree upon and put in the lease-to-buy agreement the exact purchase price of the horse. A lot can happen over a lease period, including the unknown, as often does with horses.

In my client’s case, during the prior years of the lease, the horse received a lot of training and increased its mileage in the show ring, mostly attributable to the lessee. As a result, the horse’s value increased over time in large part due to lessee’s hard work. Not by coincidence, the sales price also increased. In short, the buyer does not want to be in a situation mid-lease or after-the-fact, asking about the purchase price.

2.Recognize that the Seller will likely have a security interest in the horse.

An equine purchase agreement with installment payments or lease-to-buy agreement may contain a clause that the buyer grants a security interest in the horse to secure payment of purchase price. The seller would take a security interest to enforce its rights against collateral (the horse) in case the debtor defaults on the obligation. For example, such a clause will act to protect the seller if the buyer stopped making a payment, the seller needed to repossess the horse, or the horse became injured, ill, or dies before the buyer made a final payment. The agreement itself may constitute the security agreement and then a filing may be necessary in accordance with Uniform Commercial Code and jurisdictional requirements.

3.“Risk of Loss”

The risk of loss section must be carefully analyzed. Consider what happens if, during the lease-to-buy agreement or the installment payment equine purchase agreement, the horse becomes ill, injured, or worse yet, dies. Any agreement should include some language that addresses the possibility of injury or death of the horse, and potentially that the buyer is responsible if, among other things, the horse gets injured or dies while the horse is in potential buyer’s custody, care, and control. This provision should indicate that it is effective from the moment the horse leaves the seller’s property and continues until the horse’s return. Depending on whether you require the potential buyer to obtain insurance, consider adding language that the potential buyer assumes all expenses that are not covered by Seller’s Mortality, Major Medical and Loss of Use Insurance, related to an accident, illness, or other peril that may occur including death or permanent disability of horse. Further, that rider/lessor/buyer is responsible for any fees/costs stemming from its negligence.

4.Assumption of Risk, Indemnity, and Release of Liability

You also may want to include language the seller is not responsible for any injuries to the potential buyer, i.e. a liability release. Review your jurisdiction’s specific requirements as far as EALAs (Equine Activity Liability Acts)—e.g. Buyer assumes the risks of equine activities pursuant to [x state] law. Further, some potentially some indemnification language—e.g. buyer agrees to indemnify and hold seller harmless from any claims, demand, liability, judgment, or actions, etc. arising from buyer’s or any other person’s use or handling of the horse.

5. Seller’s Warranties and Representations

Consider language that reflects what, if any, types of warranties and representations are being made in connection with the agreement. For example, whether the seller represents that the horse is in good condition, buyer has been provided with all health and vaccination records, that once purchase price is received in full a bill of sale will be provided to buyer, and whether the horse is being sold “as is” with no warranties, express or implied. Be aware of when these warranties go into effect, e.g. on the effective date of the agreement and transfer of possession of the horse.

6.What to do about the PPE?

In most cases, pre-purchase exams (PPEs) are performed after a buyer has a signed sales contract in hand—otherwise, the seller could change their mind about selling the horse or sell the horse to another buyer after buyer has invested time, money, and energy into the PPE.

Further, there is usually a time period during which buyer has to complete the PPE and to complete a comprehensive veterinary work-up. How does this play out in a lease-to-buy or installment payment equine sales agreement? A few options: (a) waiver of the PPE; (b) performance of the PPE prior to the effective date or transfer of possession; or (c) at a later date as specified in the contract. Remember, as a buyer, you want to be informed about any problems so that you can make an educated decision whether to buy the horse.

While the above is not an all-inclusive list of what should be in a lease-to-buy or installment payment equine sales contract, it includes some of the issues that can crop up if buyer/seller decide to enter into such an agreement.

A lease-to-buy or installment equine sales agreement may be a “win-win” situation for both buyer and seller, but be mindful of the pitfalls that can arise.


This article does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the article’s author. This article is not a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state. Looking for an equine lawyer? click here

CSI: Anatomy of an Animal Abuser

A Closer Look

by Genevieve Rajewski

When a dog or cat comes into the clinic with injuries caused by blunt-force trauma, it probably was hit by a car.

Or was it?

Veterinarians generally rely on their instincts to tell the difference between an accident and abuse. But eliminating some of the guesswork in suspected cases of cruelty or neglect could help get animals out of violent households and produce evidence to prosecute their abusers.

Nida Intarapanich, a third-year veterinary student at Cummings School, took up that cause, one at the forefront of the emerging field of veterinary forensic science. She has developed a statistical modeling tool that looks at injury patterns to help veterinarians distinguish between accident and intent. And because an abused animal often signals more widespread violence in a household, her work could help human victims, too.

“Violence doesn’t exist in a vacuum,” says Intarapanich, who volunteered at animal shelters and crisis centers for human victims of domestic violence while she was an undergraduate at Dartmouth College.

“Often an animal is a much more effective way for an abuser to control the people in their household than threatening them directly,” she says. “Victims of domestic violence have said they’d rather be hurt than have their animals be hurt. An abuser can use a puppy or kitten to force the woman to stay, keep their kids quiet or make them otherwise do as they’re told.”

The Humane Society of the United States estimates that nearly 1 million animals a year are abused or killed in episodes of domestic violence.

In 2013, the Animal Rescue League of Boston helped investigate 420 criminal cases of animal cruelty or neglect. The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals investigated 2,089 suspected cases of animal maltreatment in 2012, according to its most recent data.

Accident or abuse?

Injuries from car accidents and abuse manifest in very different patterns, says Intarapanich, who examined the medical records of 400 dogs and cats hit by cars and treated at Cummings School’s Foster Hospital for Small Animals. She also looked at 50 confirmed cases of abused dogs and cats from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Her work, done with faculty mentors Elizabeth Rozanski, an emergency and critical care vet, and Emily McCobb, V00, M.S.03, director of the Shelter Medicine Program, was funded by the school’s student research program.

Abused animals, Intarapanich discovered, tend to have a much higher rate of head injuries and rib fractures. They also sustain tooth fractures and claw damage. “Many veterinarians associate claw damage with a pet skidding across the pavement after being struck by a car,” Intarapanich says. “But our research showed it’s far more significantly associated with physical abuse.” The researchers suspect an animal injures its claws “in a frantic attempt to escape the actions of the abuser,” she says.

In contrast, pets hit by cars tend to suffer skin abrasions and damage to the hind end, likely from being hit while running away from the vehicle.

Similar to patterns of injury seen in child abuse, evidence of previous fractures are often present in animals that have been intentionally hurt.

“Unfortunately, physical abuse rarely is a one-time occurrence,” says Intarapanich, who plans to submit her research to a veterinary journal or human forensics publication.

These new findings of abuse injuries would be hugely important for prosecuting animal abusers, because “oftentimes we are trying to refute an unlikely story,” says Martha Smith-Blackmore, V97, a veterinary forensic scientist.

Smith-Blackmore, vice president of animal welfare at the Animal Rescue League of Boston, often testifies in court about animal abuse. “Many times a veterinarian may have a gut feeling that this just isn’t what an animal looks like after it was hit by a car. Until now, there hasn’t been a scientific study of cases that says when animals get hit by cars, these are the collection of injuries we tend to see,” she says.

Once she has cataloged the abuse and accidental injuries, Intarapanich applies a statistical method called discriminant analysis, allowing her to develop an equation that can be applied to identify car-strike victims with 92 percent accuracy and abuse victims with 81 percent accuracy.

Veterinary forensics “is a developing field, and we’re all learning techniques together,” says Smith-Blackmore. “Nida has come along at just the right time to back us up with science.”

The connections between animal abuse and other interpersonal violence, including violence against spouses, children, elders and the mentally and physically challenged, are well-documented.

“It’s been conventional wisdom in Western philosophy for hundreds of years that children who hurt animals in young childhood often grow up to have aggressive and antisocial behaviors in adulthood,” says Phil Arkow, coordinator of the National Link Coalition, which works to end violence against animals and people and curates research on the connections between the two.

However, only recently has there been a body of research that shows that “acts of animal cruelty often indicate the co-occurrence of other crimes or predict future crimes,” he says.

It’s not just social services and animal welfare experts who have made the connection between human and animal violence.

The FBI announced in October that it will begin tracking data on cases of animal cruelty the same way it does for homicides, arson, armed robberies and assaults—through its enormous electronic database known as the National Crime Information Center. Arkow calls the move “probably the most significant sea change in the history of animal protection.” Now some 18,000 U.S. law-enforcement agencies will report arrests for intentional abuse or torture, organized abuse (dogfighting and cockfighting), gross neglect and sexual abuse of animals.

“This sends a signal to every police officer and sheriff in this country that animal cruelty is indeed a crime to be taken very seriously,” Arkow says.

The crime center data will allow communities and law enforcement to gain a better understanding of animal abuse and its perpetrators. That, Arkow says, could produce more effective programs to prevent such violence.

State lawmakers have also stepped up. Animal cruelty can now be prosecuted as a felony in all 50 states, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Before 1986, just four states had felony animal cruelty laws. Additionally, “more and more states are mandating veterinarians to report [to police] suspected animal cruelty or permitting them to do so without fear of civil or criminal liability,” Arkow notes.

“As family practitioners dealing with the four-legged members of the family, veterinarians are in the exact same situation as pediatricians were 50 years ago regarding the recognition and response to suspected child abuse,” Arkow says.

Veterinary forensic research like Intarapanich’s, he says, can change society’s perception of and response to abused animals in much the same way the seminal article “The Battered Child Syndrome,” published in 1962 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, did for children once assumed to be “accident-prone.”

Smith-Blackmore says it’s imperative for both animal and human victims that veterinarians are able to identify an abused pet. “That animal,” she says, “can be the sentinel for a whole system of harm: the canary in the coal mine that brings to light a whole broken and hurt family at home who are equally suffering.”

Reprinted with permission, Cummings Veterinary Medicine magazine, © 2015 Tufts University

Did you know?

When children mistreat animals, it may indicate that the youngsters are victims of abuse.

In a 1983 study of New Jersey families investigated for child abuse and neglect, children had abused pets in one-third of the homes – using the animals as scapegoats for their anger.

A 2003 study found that sexually abused children were five times more likely to have abused pets than children who had not been molested.

Young people who perpetrate or witness animal cruelty are more likely to commit other violent acts.

A 2013 study showed that 43 percent of schoolyard shooters have histories of animal cruelty.

A history of pet abuse is one of the four most significant risk factors for becoming a batterer.

71% of battered women report that abusers hurt, killed or threatened their pets to control them and their children.

A dozen studies reported that between 15% and 48% of battered women delay leaving abusive situations – or return to them – because they fear for the safety of their pets.

One study reported that 41% of domestic-violence batterers had adult histories of animal abuse, compared with 1.5% of the general population.

3 Ways to Market Your Stallion

by Jamie Samples

So you have this fantastic stallion and you are confident in his ability to produce quality babies; however, you are not sure to effectively get the message out to prospective mare owners. The big question is where to start. With the many marketing options, which are the most effective and affordable? We will give you, what we believe, are the top three ways to market your stallion.

1. Your stallion must have an online presence.

This starts with a website, and not just any old website. You have to look at your website and think of first impressions. If a prospective mare owner landed on your stallion’s website what would they think about your horse? Your website MUST reflect the quality of your stallion. This might require outsourcing your website development to someone other than yourself or a friend of the family. This is when you have to remember that cheap is not always better. Remember you have a quality stallion and your website must reflect this.

2. Your stallion must show his “personality” on social media.

Does your stallion have a Facebook page? Are you showcasing his talent through video posts, awards & recognition & most of all lots of quality pictures? It is really great when a stallion owner showcases the mares & new babies for the entire world to see.

An example of a stallion that really has a great Facebook page is a Paint Stallion named John Simon. I am sure he instructs his owners every day what he would like to be posted *wink wink*. When you preview his Facebook page you can really tell this stallion has a great personality and you can see what types of babies he produces. Also, you can truly tell that he has a great temperament. He has many photos of children and special times with his owners. What is a great looking horse if they do not have a solid temperament?

This is one of the easiest ways to showcase your stallion. We recommend posting a minimum of once per day every day of the week. We know horse owners are very busy so we recommend that you utilize the Facebook scheduling tool within Facebook.

3. Although there are so many great ways to market your stallion, the last option we want to highlight is Email Marketing.

Staying connected with mare owners and others in the industry is crucial for your stallion. You may speak with someone at a Stallion Exhibition or a show where your stallion is doing well in the ring. That person may or may not have a mare this moment to breed or this person could be a great connector and know many others that could have an interest.

Connecting once a month via email is a great way to ensure your stallion stays at the forefront of those important targets’ minds. We recommend using Constant Contact as an email platform. The service allows you to showcase a professional design that also allows you to track the number of opens, click through rates and many other helpful marketing statistics. It is also easy to use.

Keep in mind that if you have a dynamite stallion, all of your marketing materials must reflect that message. You never know how someone will find out about your stallion. First impressions are everything.  

Don’t miss a thing. Get regular updates, including equine marketing strategies.

Equine Jobs: Deciding the Independent Contractor or Employee Dilemma

by Gabriella Cellarosi Daniel, Esq.,

Independent or Employee?

There is often much confusion on whether a worker is considered an “independent contractor” or an “employee” in the eyes of the law. It is a hot topic given that classification matters because it may materially impact insurance, tax, and liability issues.

From a liability perspective, business owners may prefer to classify employees as “independent contractors” because an owner who employs an independent contractor is generally not liable for injuries to third persons caused by the contractor’s negligence. Additionally, federal and state anti-discrimination laws usually do not apply to independent contractors.

Some employers may prefer to label certain employees as independent contractors to lessen the “hassle factor”. Employers have to pay their share of employment taxes for employees, withhold employees’ share of employment taxes from gross pay, and report gross and net wages to the government. An independent contractor will be subject to the self-employment tax.

In contrast, individuals may want to be classified as an employee because if they are injured on the job, they generally would receive worker’s compensation benefits under a state worker’s compensation act. In order for workers’ compensation statutes to provide coverage, the parties must have an employer-employee relationship at the time of the injury.

An independent contractor should also make sure that they have appropriate insurance in place in the event of lawsuits, property damage, and other issues.

Closer look

If you are assessing whether you have an independent contractor working for you, there are some considerations:

1. Review the IRS Guidelines.

The IRS guidelines are a good place to start and provide guidance: “You are not an independent contractor if you perform services that can be controlled by an employer (what will be done and how it will be done). This applies even if you are given freedom of action. What matters is that the employer has the legal right to control the details of how the services are performed.” (see http://www.irs.gov/). The IRS guidelines also go on to note that “facts that provide evidence of the degree of control and independence fall into three categories”:

 •Behavioral: Does the company control or have the right to control what the worker does and how the worker does his/her job? (Remember that it’s not whether the employer actually exercises the control but whether the employer can exercise the control).

•Financial: Are the business aspects of the job controlled by the payer? (how the worker is paid, are tools/supplies provided, the extent to which the worker has unreimbursed business expenses, etc.)

•Type of Relationship: Are there written contracts (evidencing intent/understanding of the parties’ relationship) or employee type benefits? (i.e. vacation pay, pension plan, insurance)

Be mindful that employers who misclassify workers as independent contractors can end up with substantial tax bills and be subjected to tax penalties for failing to pay employment taxes or failing to file the requisite forms. The IRS guidelines are a great starting point and a tax professional or a lawyer will be able to assist if you have problems with classification.

2. Should You Have An Independent Contractor Contract?

It depends. Generally, courts take the position that neither the presence or absence of a written contract controls whether an individual is deemed an independent contractor. Notwithstanding, with respect to application to the horse industry, in some cases, an independent contractor contract may be appropriate and may be beneficial if a matter goes on to litigation. One likely would not have a contract for a veterinarian or farrier, but subject to the specific circumstances, may for a trainer, jockey, braider, or exercise rider.

Be mindful that a contract for an independent contractor will differ from that of an employee contract and that such a contract, on its face, should describe an independent contractor relationship. For example, for an independent contractor contract, while not exhaustive, consider having the following clauses:

•Refer to independent contractor as “Contractor” and the horse or farm owner(s) as “Owner” respectively
•Contact term (when work will start and when work will end)
•Contractor responsible for bringing his own tools
•Contractor (not employer) determines when, where, and how to perform work
•Contractor will not be provided worker’s compensation coverage or benefits
•Contractor will be responsible for complying with tax requirements (e.g. 1099)

Of course, individuals likely to be considered an “employee” would have a different contract (e.g. barn managers, assistant barn managers, etc.).

3. There is no “magic” analysis.

Whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor is subject to a multi-factored analysis. Case law concedes that this can be a grey area in the law. When such matters come to litigation, courts often assess a number of different factors and any determination turns on a very fact-specific inquiry and analysis. In legal terms, courts look to the “totality of the facts and circumstances” and there is no hard and fast rule. But, a primary focus is an employer’s right of control of the work to be performed.

With respect to right of control, courts look to a number of factors and there also is no bright-line test. For example, what about the exercise rider who is told to breeze, gallop, or jog the horse? Or pre-race instructions given to jockey? Are those sufficient indicia of the right of control work done? Exercise riders are often times considered independent contractors. Facts that would support this determination would be the owner only providing general instructions on the type of work (e.g. breeze, gallop, or jog the horse), the owner who does not supervise work closely, and the individual/exercise rider has significant freedom to perform the work as desired (e.g. individual can come and go as they please, work for other people, works for many other people, can decide not to ride the horse if he/she thinks not in best interest of horse, as he/she sees fit).

What about tools? Horses, saddles, bridles, versus helmet, chaps, whips? Provision of tools may weigh in favor of an employee determination – i.e. providing the horses, saddles, bridles, and other equipment necessary to perform the work of exercising and training the horses. However, an individual’s provision of their own helmet, chaps, whip, and vest, may not impact the determination and the individual may still be found to be an employee. (Note: case law explains that provision of a halter for a farrier is not considered “equipment” any more than a corral or other enclosure that a horse is kept in).

Some courts have held that a jockey injured while working out a horse was an employee of the owner of the horse and therefore entitled to worker’s compensation benefits based on the fact that horse owner had supplied the jockey with the riding equipment on the day of the accident and due to the fact that the jockey was required to ride all of the owner’s horses that day at the track. In contrast, courts have found that a jockey injured during the course of a race was an independent contractor because the jockey provided all of his own equipment and the jockey was free to ride other owners’ horses in other races that day.

Regarding the financial piece, the court may look at how the work is compensated, as well as the nature of the work. For example, indicia of employee status would be evidence that an individual was receiving wages and receiving a W-2 or a 1099 from the employer and whether there are deductions or withholdings from compensation. If the exercise rider/jockey etc. is guaranteed a minimum salary rate not predicated on the number of horses rode, receives a Christmas bonus and shares in a portion of prize money that a horse wins that may be further indicia of an employer/employee relationship.

In contrast, indicia of an independent contractor would be the submission of a monthly bill for services performed that the owner must pay. Courts also might assess the degree of economic dependence that an individual has with a farm or owner. For example, is a trainer/rider/barn worker working with one owner (more likely an employee) or relying on multiple owners for income (more likely an independent contractor). Is the jockey working with one owner, riding all of that horse owner’s horses that day in every race (more likely an employee) or just one race and one horse (i.e. a “free-lance” jockey) (more likely an independent contractor). The same analysis can apply to a barn worker.

Stable workers

Determining how to classify a barn worker can be particularly complicated. As a preliminary matter, there are different types of barn workers: barn managers, assistant barn managers, stall cleaners, etc. Consider the barn worker who is told what to do (e.g. feed x horses, x times a day, x tasks, etc.) but isn’t micromanaged by the barn owner. At first blush, the individual may appear to be an independent contractor, but in light of the information in this article, the IRS and common law would likely classify these individuals as employees.

The parties’ respective expectations and understandings can also play a role. For example, does the person consider themself an employee of the farm? Do the parties have a written contract which spells out the parties’ intent and/or understanding of the relationship? Consider whether the parties have had oral or written discussions outlining or describing the nature of the parties’ working relationship. Communicating on specifics with the individual working for you may be beneficial to iron out details of the working relationship, highlight (and then give time to correct) if there is a disparity in the parties’ respective understanding of the relationship, and hopefully prevent disputes in the future.

While this can be a complicated determination, if you have questions about whether you have an employer-employee relationship or an independent contractor relationship, consult a knowledgeable attorney or tax professional, as appropriate.

 

California Appeals Court Upholds Ruling in Nunnink Trial

 

by Catherine Golden

The California Court of Appeals held that a minor’s release of liability was enforceable against her parents in their wrongful death claims against their daughter’s horse trainer. The Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling granting the defendant’s motion for judgment relieving horse trainer Kristi Nunnink of liability.

Mia Eriksson, the 17-year-old daughter of Karan and Stan Eriksson, was an accomplished rider and aspired to be a member of the Olympic equestrian team.  In May 2006, she commenced training with Nunnink. At that time, Mia and Nunnink entered into a release of liability agreement in which Mia, as “Rider,” agreed to release Nunnink, as “Trainer,” from all liability except for damages caused by Nunnink’s “direct, willful and wanton negligence.” Mia’s mother, Karan, also signed the release as the “Rider’s Parent.”

After competing in a number of intermediate 3-day events over the summer and early fall, Mia entered the Galway Downs event in southern California which would be her first “two-star” event. The only horse Mia rode in 2006 was Kory.

Prior to the Galway event Kory sustained a contusion to his chest when he tripped and fell near a jump. However, he was cleared to compete at Galway.

After Kory’s fall, Mia’s mother did not want her to compete at Galway Downs. Mia had also had a few “rough rides” during competition and Karen told Nunnink that Mia “was done” for the year. The following day Kory did very well with Mia during practice jumps and eventually, Mia, with Nunnink’s support, was allowed to compete on Kory at Galway in the dressage phase only.

At Galway, Kory was cleared by the veterinarian to compete. Mia finished 41st out of 44 in dressage. Mia wanted to compete the next day in the cross country phase. Her mother was adamant that she could not. Karan spoke with Nunnink who said both Kory and Mia were physically sound and capable of performing and Karen gave Mia the go ahead.

During the cross-country event Kory refused four jumps, and therefore Mia was eliminated from the competition. However, she continued to ride the course. Kory hit a fence, fell over it and landed on his back crushing Mia. She died from her injuries sustained in the rotational fall. Both Stan and Karan Eriksson were watching when their daughter was killed.

The Erickssons filed a wrongful death action against trainer Nunnink who initially prevailed on a motion for summary judgment. The Erickssons’ appealed and the Court of Appeal reversed the lower court’s decision. The case proceeded to trial and after the Erikssons’ case-in-chief the Court granted Nunnink’s motion for entry of judgment relying on the release executed by Mia.
The Erickssons appealed, contending that the release was ambiguous and argued that Nunnink’s reference to herself as “trainer,” instead of coach, meant the term applied only to her training of the horses, not to her coaching of their daughter. The Court of Appeals disagreed, because the release defined “trainer” as Nunnink and the term “trainer” throughout the release was effectively only a placeholder for Nunnink’s name.

The Court affirmed the lower court’s decision and held that the release was enforceable and could be asserted by Nunnink as a defense to the Erikssons’ claims. The release expressly provided: “[w]hen the Trainer, Rider and (if minor) Rider’s parent sign this Release, it will then be irrevocable and binding on all parties, subject to the above terms and conditions.” Under these circumstances, the release could not be disaffirmed even though Mia was a minor. The court stated that although Karan’s signature prevented the agreement from being disaffirmed, it did not make her a party to the release. The release clearly identified the only parties as Nunnink and Mia.

In the release, Mia expressly agreed to release Nunnink from liability for claims, causes of action, and damages, including “those based on death.” Although Mia could not release or waive her parents’ wrongful death claims, it is well-settled law that a release of future liability or express assumption of the risk by the decedent may be asserted as a defense to such claims. Although a wrongful death cause of action is not derived from the rights of the decedent, the duty of care that was owed to Mia was negated by her in the release. Because Nunnink can owe no greater duty to the heirs than to Mia, the release of any claims would cause any wrongful death action to fail. Nunnink could thus rely on Mia’s release as a defense to the Erikssons’ cause of action for wrongful death. The same principle applied to the Erikssons’ emotional distress claims.

The Court concluded that the Erikssons could prevail on their claims against Nunnink only if they could show that she was grossly negligent. In the unpublished portion of its opinion, the court found the Erikssons failed to make such a showing.

 

View Decision

Horses being Horses: 6 Considerations after a Riding Accident

by Gabriella Cellarosi Daniel, Esq. 

Spring is upon us and everyone is getting back out to ride and preparing to show. It is the scene that every barn owner dreads, a rider-less horse galloping by with stirrups flapping in the wind.

Picture a barn owner who runs a successful and lucrative boarding, breeding, and training operation. One day a horse boarder, while out riding a young and spirited horse, is thrown and seriously injured. When accidents happen (because it is nearly impossible to have an injury-free property) allegations of negligence can be made. The question can then become was it just “horses being horses”, or was an incident due to some fault of the barn owner and/or rider?

There are some steps a barn owner should consider taking after making sure that emergency medical assistance is provided to anyone who is injured, including the horse. Any necessary emergency action should also be taken to prevent further injury to the rider and horse, as well as limiting property damage.

Horseback Riding Accidents

1.Investigate what happened.
The barn owner should investigate what happened. In legal terms, this would be akin to collecting evidence. Investigations can take several shapes but may often include interviewing witnesses to the incident (e.g. other boarders, barn employees, friends/family that were with the person at the time of the incident) to determine, if possible, the circumstances surrounding the incident, what happened, as well as any individuals who may have relevant information. While subject to the particular facts of each incident and as appropriate, some questions to ask during the course of an investigation may include, but are not limited to:

•Where did the incident occur? (cross-country, indoor arena, outdoor arena, trails, stable, etc.)
•When did the accident occur?
•What happened?
•What, if anything, happened before the incident?
•Was he/she riding during barn hours?
•Riding conditions (e.g. riding in a sufficiently illuminated area? Footing?)
•Did the horse or rider have any known ailments?
•Did something occur to spook/upset the horse?
•What were the ground conditions? (deep, slippery, hard, good)
•Was the rider riding alone or with other people?
•Was the rider wearing protective/safety equipment, including an ASTM/SEI approved helmet?
•What were horse/rider doing at the time of the incident? (jumping, trail-riding/hacking, lesson)
•Were there any unsafe acts that could have led to the incident? Any otherwise unusual or extenuating circumstances?
•Was medical assistance offered and obtained? If yes, what type?
•What occurred post-incident?
•Did anyone provide any eyewitness reports?
•What caused the incident? (if known)

Such interviews may be particularly helpful if the injured rider is incapacitated and/or seeking medical treatment and therefore, there is no option to speak to the injured party to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident. Interviews the day of the incident also document recollections while they are still fresh and can often be beneficial in the event of after-the-fact conflicting accounts.
The barn owner may also want to take photographs, as needed, to document where the incident occurred, physical surroundings of the incident, and conditions. Finally, to the extent possible, the barn owner should attempt to determine the cause(s) of the incident.
With respect to causes, do not speculate. Be mindful that assessing the cause of the incident can likely be subject to an individual’s opinion (including one who may not have personal and/or independent knowledge incident). Try to gather information that can shed light on why an incident occurred and the rider and/or barn owner’s respective roles, if any, in contributing to an incident. Of course, keep in mind that an incident with a horse may not necessarily happen when a person is riding. Consider a horse that panics during a clipping session and shoots through a stall door, bolts in the field and tramples someone, bites/kicks, etc. The same information gathering principles apply.

2.Prepare a report.

In the course of the farm’s business operations, prepare a report that documents your investigation of the facts, people spoken with (if any), statements provided (if any), and potential causes of the incident (if known). The report should include the information obtained from the investigation as noted above. The report should be fact-based and not speculative. Resist the urge to include personal opinions and/or self-serving statements (e.g. the “farm was not at fault” versus “the farm was not on notice of any problem or condition with X”).
After you have prepared a report, ensure that it is stored in safe place for a given amount of time that is in line with your personal record-keeping protocol. Be aware that there are state-specific statutes of limitations for filing lawsuits.
Also, consider having a barn form in place for consistency purposes and that details the information that barn owner/supervisor/employee needs when confronted with an emergency situation. The barn owner may not always be the person on hand to complete the form and should make it easy for a barn employee to otherwise gather the needed information.
3.File appropriate reports.
Timely file a worker’s compensation report and contact your insurance, as appropriate. Review your insurance contract to determine what constitutes “timely” reporting periods. Even if a claim does not occur in the future, it is wise to report for tracking, business, and legal purposes. Insurance companies understand that injured persons may bring claims and want to be aware of any incident that may generate a claim in the future and may also want to conduct their own investigation of the incident.
4.Damage control.
In today’s environment of social media, an incident can quickly go beyond just the individual involved. Information, pictures, and videos can easily and quickly be posted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites. How should a barn respond (if at all) to such dissemination of information? The answer: it depends.
Of course, social media can be a powerful tool to increase awareness and update others with needed information. A response, if one is provided, will likely be subject to the specific facts of the situation. Nonetheless, every barn should have a plan in place for addressing incidents that are reported on social media. For example, in the case of a public venue where an incident occurs, responding in a clear and concise manner and providing an explanation to a social media posting may quell differing, incorrect, and/or speculative accounts of what occurred with horse and rider. It may also quash future discussions because an answer has been provided from a credible and knowledgeable source.
In contrast, with respect to a more private situation, no explanation may be appropriate, warranted, or beneficial, especially from a legal standpoint if a claim is pursued in the future. If conduct is serious (e.g. libel and/or slander) and can potentially damage business reputation and profits, consider consulting an attorney to address the conduct. Always keep in mind that if and when a lawsuit is filed, it will be more likely than not that the parties will seek to obtain information relative to the incident posted on social media sites, if any. As such, be thoughtful about social media postings.
5.Doing the right thing or admission of guilt?
The question is often posed, if a barn pays for some or all of a person’s medical expenses or veterinary expenses for an injured horse as a “goodwill gesture”, will this later be viewed as an admission of guilt? What happens if a portion of bills are paid by the barn owner and then due to complications, there are additional bills which the barn owner does not wish to pay – will barn owner be responsible for the second set of bills because the first were paid?
Barn owners may be torn between what they feel is “doing the right thing” and what could ostensibly constitute an admission of liability. Most boarding operations likely have insurance policies in place which generally provide coverage for a certain amount of medical bills regardless of fault. Generally, when this coverage is utilized, payment of bills for this limited amount, does not in itself constitute liability for the incident. Further, pursuant to public policy doctrines and rules of evidence, generally evidence of offers to pay medical expenses cannot be later used in court as an admission of liability. However, statements made in connection with offers to pay medical expenses (e.g. “. . . it was completely barn X’s fault. . .” may later be admissible in a court proceeding. Because this is a fact-specific inquiry and subject to state specific laws, as well as complexities of a legal nature, consult a knowledgeable attorney and your insurance carrier, as appropriate.

6.Post-incident action/“take-aways.”

When an incident occurs, it may be helpful to evaluate farm practices, if any, that caused or contributed to the incident (e.g. was there a hole on the property, a fence down, broken jumps, issues with the footing, or otherwise problems/conditions with the riding facility, etc.)

Performing a post-incident evaluation may also include developing or amending checklists for safe riding practices, as appropriate. Such lists may include riding during farm hours, riding in illuminated areas, wearing safety-approved riding helmets and other protective equipment, and the rider’s responsibility to ensure safe and properly fitting tack and equipment.

While these recommendations are not all-inclusive, they are some points to keep in mind when an incident occurs. Depending on the facts and circumstances of an incident, consult a knowledgeable attorney as appropriate.

 


 

This article does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the article’s author. This article is not a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state. Looking for an equine lawyer? click here

 

Equip Yourself for Horse Buying Success

 

by Robyn Ranke, Esq.

Horse Buying Success

What are your expectations when you are buying a horse? Are you relying solely on the opinions of those advising you to reach your decision to buy? The vast majority of amateurs do. As attorneys, we encourage buyers to embrace the pre-purchase examination with eyes wide open – to consider factors beyond the opinions of those advising you before making an offer to buy. These factors adopt a common sense approach to the decision-making process much like that of buying a house or a car.

Be aware the difficulty with a horse transaction is that no statutory laws exist specifically designed to protect the buyer in a horse sales transaction. By comparison, there are specific statutory laws enacted to protect buyers in real estate and automobile transactions. In general, these statutory laws were enacted to protect buyers against fraud, nondisclosure, and hidden defects and set forth provisions such as fiduciary responsibilities, seller’s written disclosure statement, buyer’s rights and remedies, and the like. We don’t see that with horse sales transactions (with the exception of the dual agent statute which mandates a written bill of sale and commission disclosures, however, the statute is limited in scope and not exhaustive. California & Prof. Code section 19525)

Crucial to your understanding is at the time of the pre-purchase examination the prior history of the horse, medical history, and other factors, are not considered. Rather, the exam is but a “snapshot” of the horse’s condition on that day at the time the exam is being performed. The veterinarian’s objective is only to identify current factors that affect, or may affect, soundness for buyer’s intended use within the confines of that moment in time the horse is being examined. So a buyer needs to ask themselves what does this mean exactly to my ultimate decision to purchase the horse? Consider if your pre-purchase veterinarian was equipped with the horse’s prior medical history your veterinarian’s opinions and findings of the horse’s suitability for your intended use may change – without which the opinions and findings are limited. By analogy, if the foundation of the house is cracked and goes undisclosed, you, the buyer, are making a decision to purchase based on a solid foundation.

As attorneys, we view the case after-the-fact – after a horse is purchased and turns up lame. We legally dissect the horse sales transaction in reverse. Buyers should get thoroughly informed about what additional information to ask for before you make a decision to purchase.

Unfortunately, experience has taught us that a common practice in the industry is to mask the truth of the horse’s prior history of lameness, prior injury, or medical condition with half-truths about the horse’s more ‘current’ suitability, performance, and soundness – because arguably “there is no perfect horse.” If there is no perfect horse then you, the buyer, have a right to know just how “imperfect” the horse is in order to make an informed decision of whether to buy. In many instances, the horse will be sold but at a reduced price.

How does the buyer get informed other than through their hired professional?

The quandary is if your hired professional is not crystal clear with you about the process, or what they find during the process, or what they actually know, then how can you, the buyer, make an “informed decision” about whether to buy or not? In fact, you, the buyer, are relying upon the hired professional to do their job and leave no stone unturned in the process.

Pre-Purchase Exam

 

Although not exhaustive, things a buyer should consider before the pre-purchase examination include:

•The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) has not adopted a uniform standard of practice for equine veterinarians when conducting a pre-purchase exam – this means veterinarians perform the exam with clinical and diagnostic procedures according to their own protocol; no one veterinarian performs the exam exactly like another;

•The pre-purchase exam is but a “snapshot” of the horse on that day at that time the exam is being performed – What does this mean exactly for you, the buyer? The horse is good today but not tomorrow?;

•It is not up to the veterinarian to ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ a horse but to identify current factors affecting soundness for intended use – What does this mean exactly to you, the buyer’s, overall decision to purchase?;

•Prior written medical history from seller or seller’s agent is typically never asked for or considered;

•Prior pre-purchase records and radiographs are typically never asked for or considered;

A pre-purchase exam is a snapshot in time.
A pre-purchase exam is a snapshot in time.

•Prior equine insurance records on the horse to consider policy exclusions is typically never asked for or considered;

•Equine insurance carriers do not share medical coverage information or prior claims with one another when a horse owner changes insurance carriers;

•A copy of the horse’s show record is typically never asked for – even when the show record is obtained a thorough analysis of the show record is often times not made;

•Buyer in many instances is not present during the examination – Is this blind trust in your hired professional to leave no stone unturned?

 

When buying a horse, it is advisable to request and obtain the following before you make an offer to buy:

•Prior written medical history;

•Prior prepurchase exam records and radiographs;

•Equine Insurance Records, Claims and Policy Exclusions;

•Show Records

•Registration Papers (confirm age, identity, and breeding)

•Written Disclosure Statement signed by Seller and Seller’s Agent;

•Pre-purchase drug screen and test results;

•Be present during the examination;

•Discuss with your veterinarian before the exam in detail what the examination will encompass and what recommended procedures are available that they may not be performing;

•Discuss with your veterinarian their findings in private and be thorough;

•Don’t be afraid to ask questions or request further information about your veterinarian’s findings – regardless of who’s involved in the transaction.

•Clear ethics conflicts with your prepurchase veterinarian, buying agent and/or trainer. (ie, your horse trainer/sales agent must disclose their relationship with a veterinarian.)

 

This list of information, alone, is not exhaustive of the pre-purchase examination process conducted by your veterinarian. However, is information that, if available, places you, the buyer, in much better position to make an informed decision and can make or break the sale.
Your veterinarian should consider this information in conjunction with their own clinical and diagnostic findings and opinions because equipped with the horse’s prior history, your veterinarian’s opinions and findings may, in fact, change.

Horse Deworming Compounds and the Shifting Paradigm

by Doug Thal, DVM DABVP

In the first part of this series we looked at equine parasites and how the horse industry is changing to manage parasites in horses to prevent parasite resistance.
When discussing compounds, it is vital for horse owners to understand that there is a big difference between trade names and active ingredients. Currently used deworming compounds can be divided into three basic groups effective against worms other than tapeworms and one compound specific to tapeworms.
– Benzimidazole Products. This is the oldest class with the highest resistance in small strongyles.
Examples include Oxibendazole (Anthelcide EQ) Fenbendazole (Panacur, SafeGuard). It is still the best wormer class for use in young horses and is our most effective compound against Ascarids, the main parasite of young horses.
– Pyrantel Products. These have less resistance, but it is a rapidly growing problem.
Examples include Strongid paste, Strongid C, Rotectrin 2. These have some effect against Tapeworms. This drug can be used on a limited basis, with FECR tests.
– Ivermectin / Moxidectin. These are two related compounds. We are seeing the beginnings of resistance problems, but these are still very effective against a wide variety of parasites. These products kill bots in the stomach. Moxidectin is the newest deworming compound and has the fewest resistance problems. It kills encysted small strongyles.
There is strong resistance to this class of wormer now being seen in Ascarids. For this reason, this class of drugs should probably be used very little in horses under 1 year of age.
– Praziquantel. This compound is effective only for Tapeworms, which are not killed by the other compounds. In several commercial products, Praziquantel is added to one of the others to kill tapeworms. Much of the USA probably does not have a problem with Tapeworms. So care needs to be taken not to overuse these products.
There are also various delivery methods when discussing deworming horses.
Paste – Oral paste syringe or liquid is the most common method of de-wormer delivery. Deworming pastes and feed formulations have been the foundation of deworming programs because of convenience, cost, and ease of administration.
Tube Deworming – Prior to the development of Ivermectin in the early 1980’s, tube deworming was the standard method for parasite control. Tube worming is performed by a veterinarian using a rubber nasogastric tube. The technique still has its place and is highly effective because it allows a large dose of chemical to be delivered into the stomach at once. There is minimal temporary discomfort for the horse as the tube is passed through the nostril and down the esophagus into the stomach. Due to the skill required, this procedure should be performed only by a veterinarian.
Supplement – Daily deworming with a feed supplement is another delivery method. The most common continuous dewormer is Strongid C®.
Continuous dewormers like Strongid C® (pyrantel) are still frequently used and tend to be highly effective in decreasing worm loads in horses and on pasture. They work by inhibiting the larval stages of many worm species. Horses on a continuous wormer should still be dewormed with either Ivermectin or Moxidectin Praziquantel in the spring and late fall. This is primarily to kill bots and tapeworms not affected by the Strongid C®. Horses on Strongid C® should have fecal testing performed 1-2 times per year to assess the effectiveness of the program. Horses have FEC’s performed while they are on this supplement.
In a recent discussion with Dr. Reinemeyer, regarding the place of continuous worming regimens he said:
“Continuous wormers still have a place. They can be given to select horses within a group for which we want minimal worm burden (say a show horse being pastured with riding horses). But we should never give it to all the horses in a herd, and we should stick to just short-term – never for the life of the horse.”
All three methods of delivery are effective and likely have their place in the new paradigm. The key is that the deworming product must be given to the proper horses, in the proper dose, at the proper time. Decisions must be guided by testing. Administration must be such that the animal actually ingests the required dose.
Doc’s Notes:
Any deworming should be based on fecal exam results.
Any halter trained equine can be taught to easily accept dewormers if the right technique is used. Your veterinarians can advise you if you have any questions.
It is critical to get the correct dose to the stomach. Under-dosing is ineffective and contributes to parasite resistance. It is best to err on the side of a very slight overdose, with all compounds except Quest (moxidectin), which are less safe at higher doses.
For Quest products, the dose must be calculated based on the horse’s weight, an overdose is possible. Overdose is unlikely with the other products. While Quest products are very effective, I do not recommend them for horses less than 2 years or under 600 lbs. I personally do not use these products in pregnant mares either, although they are likely safe.
Some horses may find pastes unpalatable and spit them out. It is best to dose before feeding because horses with feed in their mouths can more easily spit out the paste.
Products with Praziquantel are available and have excellent effectiveness against tapeworms and should be used as directed. Your vet can tell you whether they are indicated in your area.
Unfortunately, the research suggests that Diatomaceous Earth does not work. Hopefully, in the future, there will be some progress here. There are worm killing fungi and now even a worm-killing bacteria that are reported to be effective treatments. For now, until your vet recommends these products, your best bet is not to rely on them, no matter the claims that are made by those selling them.
Remove bot eggs regularly from the horse’s hair coat to prevent ingestion. Bots generally do not cause serious disease but if they can be removed it means fewer will be ingested.
Foals should not be dewormed until they have adult ascarids present- at least 60-70 days. On average, they should be dewormed every 3 months thereafter until they are a year old, with a compound that kills ascarids (oxibendazole or fenbendazole). After that, they are monitored with fecal egg counts and treated as adults. Foals that appear poor can have fecal egg counts performed and may require a different approach.
Pregnant mares should be dewormed with a safe product a few weeks prior to foaling to decrease the foal’s exposure to parasites unless they are ill or have complicated pregnancies.
There is a strong argument that Strongid C is contributing to the problem with pyrantel resistance, and some believe its use should be discontinued.
Stable Management Practices
Importantly, chemical control is actually the less important part of a total parasite control plan. Since parasites are primarily transferred through manure, good stable and pasture management is key.
Horses in growing pastures tend to defecate in certain areas in the pasture (the roughs) and graze in between these (the greens). This is likely an adaptive behavior reducing ingestion of parasite eggs. Keep this in mind given your management of the pasture.
When possible, use a feeder for hay and grain rather than feeding on the ground.
Harrowing pastures regularly may break up manure piles and expose parasite eggs and larvae to the elements, but also spreads viable eggs out onto the grass so that horses are forced to ingest more parasites. My recommendation in our area is to only harrow horse pasture when the weather is hot and dry during the peak of the summer, then to allow several weeks for the parasites to die before putting horses out.
While eggs may be slow to develop to infective stages in cold weather, they do survive, awaiting the right conditions. Many parasite eggs survive on snow and ice for the winter and may resume their life cycle in the spring. The old idea that cold weather kills parasites is mostly wrong.
Spreading manure on pastures without first composting it will spread parasite eggs on the pasture and can lead to heavy pasture contamination and re-infestation.
Composting requires watering (in our climate) and turning of piles. Properly done, this leads to intense heat production and killing of most parasites. With proper management, composted manure can be returned to the land and benefit it.
Rotate pastures by allowing other livestock, such as sheep or cattle to graze them. This interrupts the life cycles of equine parasites.
Group horses by age to reduce exposure to certain parasites and maximize the deworming program geared to that group.
Keep the number of horses per acre to a minimum to prevent overgrazing and reduce the fecal contamination per acre, or use rotational grazing.
In the past, it was taken for granted that frequent rotational deworming was the best way to reduce parasite resistance. While rotational deworming still has a place in the new paradigm, it is no longer the main treatment of choice. Parasite resistance is a real and growing threat. It is a problem that veterinarians and horse owners need to work together to manage. Resistance is inevitable. Our goal in changing the paradigm is to slow the problem and extend the period of effectiveness of our currently effective compounds, while still maintaining the health of our horses.

My Horse is Not a Chattel, Sir

Opinions: Uniquely Yours | Horse Authority
by Bonnie Navin, Esq.

Horse not chattel, but family

In the presence of the Lakeland Nutrition Feed Recall, one can only wonder how the aggrieved could possibly be compensated for the losses suffered. In most states, horses, like all animals, are known as chattel. Chattel, under the law, meaning property. In other words, horses are treated the same as your car. Certainly, anyone who has ever owned and loved a horse knows they could never be treated as property but rather a member of your family.

Florida courts have mixed emotions when addressing whether a pet owner would be entitled to the recovery of pain and suffering for the ongoing losses and ultimate loss of their equine.

In the presence of the Lakeland Nutrition Feed Recall, one can only wonder how the aggrieved could possibly be compensated for the losses suffered. In most states, horses, like all animals, are known as chattel. Chattel, under the law, meaning property. In other words, horses are treated the same as your car. Certainly, anyone who has ever owned and loved a horse knows they could never be treated as property but rather a member of your family.
A veterinarian euthanized Dallas due to monensin toxicity from eating poisoned horse feed manufactured by Lakeland Nutrition.

In Knowles Animal Hospital v. Helen Wills, 360 So.2d 37 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1978) the Third District upheld the recovery for the element of pain and suffering when considering a dog owner’s grief for the severe burn and disfigurement inflicted on their dog by their vet. The court noted the jury was permitted to consider the element of mental pain and suffering of the dog owners. The court went on to note that on the evidence the jury could, and no doubt did, view the neglectful conduct which resulted in the burn injury suffered by the dog to have been a character amounting to great indifference to the property of the plaintiffs, such as to justify the jury award.

But along came Kennedy v. Byas, 867 So.2d 1195 (Fla. 1st DCA 2004) who vehemently disagreed with the holding of the Knowles case citing that while a dog may be part of the family, under Florida law, animals are considered to be personal property. Citing Bennett v. Bennett, 655 So.2d 109, 110 (Fla. 1st DCA 1995). Despite rejecting Knowles, the First District recognized there were times when pain and suffering should be an element of consideration, thus distinguishing LaPorte v. Assoc. Indeps, Inc., 163 So.2d 267, 269 (Fla. 1964). In LaPorte, the Florida Supreme Court opined the maliciousness of throwing a garbage can at the plaintiff’s pet certainly opened the door for recovery of pain and suffering.

Recovery of pain and suffering

As an equine attorney, I have had much success in state court retaining the element of pain and suffering for the right cases. The argument sits well with most judges. There can be no question that a feed company who manufacturers feed for cattle and horses in the same location, and possibly in the same machinery, must have stringent policies and protocols in place to ensure that cross-contamination cannot occur.

In the case of Monensin inclusion, cattle and poultry can consume 10 times more than the lethal limit a horse can consume. There can be no room for error or mistake. Sadly, the effects do not appear for 12-24 hours thus horses eat with no understanding that they are being poisoned and there is no sign for noting the feed is contaminated. It is not equivalent to recognizing moldy hay.

Feed in Florida can cost as high as $30.00 per bag and horses are no longer purchased for $500.00. Given the financial gain of these feed companies who supply Florida farms to feed expensive show horses, such a mistake must come with a significant penalty to the manufacturer. That should include the mental pain and suffering being experienced every day by these children and their families, as they watch their partners deteriorate before their eyes.

Colic and Your Horse: A Veterinarian’s Perspective

by Doug Thal, DVM DABVP

Colic Treatment

It always surprises me when an experienced horse person asks me how I treat “colic.” That question is akin to asking a physician how they treat a “limp.”
Equine colic is simply abdominal pain. Signs of equine colic are what we see – a horse’s behavior when it is experiencing abdominal pain. Like a limp, colic can be caused by any of a large number of conditions (diagnoses). The key question we (vets and horse owners) must always ask is: What is the condition (diagnosis) that is causing the colic? The answer provides the information needed to determine how it should be treated.
Examples that I hear frequently:
– Horses colic when the barometric pressure drops.
– If you keep a horse from rolling, he can’t twist his intestine.
– Putting a colicy horse in a trailer and driving around will “fix” him.
– If a colicy horse passes manure, they are getting better.
Too often, I see the results of this flawed logic, which leads to delayed treatment and sometimes death.
Since intestinal problems are so common in horses, it’s important for every horse person to know something about colic, and the basics of equine intestinal health. The equine gastrointestinal tract is unique in is its ability to utilize cellulose and other structural carbohydrates (the fibrous part of grass that is poorly digestible). The process of breaking down this carbohydrate into useable nutrition is called fermentation, which requires a specialized and complicated intestinal tract. Fermentation produces large quantities of gas and requires a complex ecology of microbes. This sophisticated system has worked well for wild horses for millions of years but does not function as well for our stabled horses that are sedentary and fed two meals per day.  

A trip down the equine gastrointestinal tract

From the mouth, feed travels through the esophagus to a small, 3 to 5-gallon stomach, and then moves into a narrow, slick and slithering, 70-foot long hose, the small intestine. From here, the partially digested feed moves into a 3-foot long, sock-shaped, 5 to 7-gallon cecum.
The cecum mixes and ferments feed, absorbs water, and empties into a truck tire sized (tractor tire sized in some horses), double horseshoe-shaped large colon with a narrow, hairpin turn. The large colon is the “fermentation vat” where roughage is broken down into nutrients and absorbed. After leaving the large colon, manure moves into the 10-foot long small colon, where fecal balls are formed. The manure finally exits at the rectum and anus.
Horses are very sensitive to abdominal pain and demonstrate it differently than other animals. Signs of abdominal pain in horses range from mild to severe and include lack of appetite, lethargy, seeming “not quite right”, lip curling, teeth grinding, looking at the side, stretching, pawing, kicking at the belly, lying down, rolling, and many others.

Conditions causing colic 

Colic signs may result from disturbances that occur anywhere along the gastrointestinal tract, or even from problems with other abdominal organs like the kidney or liver. Intestinal pain can even be confused with pain coming from other areas of the body (examples include muscle pain and chest pain). Examples of conditions causing colic, let’s call them CCC’s for short, can be broken down by the intestinal region that is being affected. For example, the stomach can develop ulcers or an impaction of feed material. The small intestine can be affected by something simple like a spasm, or something serious like a twist. The large colon may be affected by simple gas, blocked by a stone or strangled by a twist. Any of these regions can be affected by inflammatory disorders or bacterial infections. These are just a few of many examples of problems causing colic. As a horse owner watching a horse showing signs of colic, you truly have no idea of the condition that is causing it.

What exactly causes pain in horses experiencing colic? Pain arises from a CCC through at least one of the following ways:
– Tension on attachments of the intestine to the body wall (mesentery).
– Over-filling (distension) or muscular spasm of part of the intestine. Example: gas accumulation, spasmodic colic.
– Irritation to the inner surface of the intestine. Example: gastric ulcers, blister beetle toxicity.
– Loss of blood supply to a segment of intestine. Examples include large colon volvulus and thromboembolic colic.

Breaking the pain cycle

Many horses showing signs of colic resolve quickly on their own or in response to a pain-killer like Banamine®.
It helps to use a human illustration: When you double over because your belly hurts, most of the time it’s just because you have some gas pain and not because you have appendicitis, but an observer that sees you in pain might not know that. The majority of people who experience a bout of intestinal pain will get over it by just suffering through it or with some simple medication. So, too, do many horses.

Of 100 horses that we notice showing signs of colic, 60-70 will recover if we simply give the horse a little time, or a shot of Banamine® (flunixin meglumine – a potent anti-inflammatory and pain reliever). But it is critical for us to understand what we are doing when we give Banamine®. We are taking away the pain. If the condition causing the colic pain happens to be minor, then it will likely resolve on its own. If the condition is more severe, we may make the horse appear improved for a time, but we are probably delaying proper diagnosis and treatment, and this could cost the horse its life.

Once a horse is in colic pain (from any condition) there is a sequence of events that tend to worsen the problem. In a healthy horse, normal movement of the gut propels food, fluid, and gas down the tract. Blockage of this normal movement from any cause leads to gas and fluid backup, stretch on the intestinal wall, and pain. Pain causes the nervous system to shut down normal intestinal movement. The shutdown of the gut leads to more gas and fluid accumulation, which leads to more stretch on the gut wall, and more pain and the cycle continues and worsens.

If this cycle is broken by appropriate treatment, including pain relief, there is a better chance of the problem resolving. This is why it is important to start treatment early. This also assumes that the condition is a “simple” cause of colic and not a mechanical obstruction. If the problem is a true mechanical obstruction like a displaced, twisted or impacted segment of intestine, it will not resolve with conservative treatment or time. Instead, it may require colic surgery or intensive medical veterinary care.

It is impossible for an observer of a horse in colic pain to distinguish between the less serious and the more serious CCC’s. More severe pain and longer lasting pain is more likely to be caused by a more serious condition, but this is not always the case.

An experienced veterinarian can often quickly identify the CCC based on the results of a history, physical examination, various diagnostics, and intuition. Early treatment of horses with more serious problems may be the difference between life and death. Quick and correct diagnosis leads to quick and correct treatment.
CCC’s are common. Roughly 5 to 10% of domestic, stabled horses will experience an episode of colic in a given year.
CCC’s affect all groups and breeds of horses in all geographic locations. Simple intestinal spasm is common everywhere, but certain types of CCC’s are more prevalent in different geographic areas. Specific conditions are also seen more commonly in specific breeds, ages, and types of horses.
For example, certain large colon displacements are more common in large warmblood-type breeds. Large colon volvulus (twist) is very common in post-foaling Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred broodmares.
Generally, the incidence of CCC’s is higher in stabled versus pastured horses, and more commonly arise in horses that are fed a high grain to forage (hay or grass) ratio.

5 Stamina Producing Tips to Enhance Horseback Riding Success

by Dione Miller

Do you know the types of food that keep your brain focused and alert, your muscles strong and your breathing steady?

Riding success involves more than just your horse’s athletic ability. If you’re competing or riding daily, taking a look at your nutrition may enhance your skill, energy and stamina. Horse owners scrutinize what their horses eat – have you done the same for yourself to ensure your nutritional needs are being met?

Think about how much more enjoyable it would be to ride longer without being out of breath and if you could eliminate leg cramps or back pain. Enjoy feeling more fluid with your horse during every ride.

Confused about how to improve your energy, strength, and stamina?

Here are five simple ways to maximize your energy and keep your muscles from fatiguing. Are you up to a 30-Day challenge to become a better you through nutrition?

1.Maximize your energy by starting your day with a Serotonin surge.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter often referred to as the happiness hormone. It also reduces your appetite and gives your consistent long-term energy! In simple terms, Serotonin is what some anti-depressants help elevate to improve your mood.

So, how can you raise Serotonin naturally? The easiest way is to start your day with a protein breakfast with no sugar. This also helps your body burn fat. Throughout the night your body has been repairing and building. Giving your body nutrient dense protein first thing in the morning will give you steady energy throughout the morning.

Try: Egg scramble with veggies or turkey bacon, poached eggs with asparagus

2.Vitamin B12 supplementation increases your energy and happiness factor.

B-12 has a key role in the function of the brain, nervous system, and the formation of the blood. A doctor can check your current levels and supplementation may be necessary. If you feel lethargic, moody, are having difficulty concentrating or remembering things, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, you could be suffering from a lack of B12. You can get a boost of B12 in great quantities from seafood, poultry, pork, and dairy products.

Try: Add Greek yogurt to one of your daily meals.

3.Potassium is an essential nutrient.

Potassium triggers the heart to pump blood through the body and is also critical for muscle contraction, kidney filtration, and nerve conduction.

Try: Beans, dark leafy greens (spinach), sweet potatoes, potatoes (baked, not fried), bananas, avocados, lima beans, kiwi, dried fruit, plain yogurt, mushrooms, and peas

4.Getting restful sleep is essential for daily energy.

For some, the stresses of life make getting good sleep difficult. A snack or magnesium and zinc supplement before bed might help. There is also a combination supplement of ZMA which contains Magnesium, B6 vitamin, and Zinc in one capsule. ZMA increases deep REM sleep which is the sleep that leaves us feeling rested and refreshed. According to a study done by Western Washington University, 12 NCAA Division 2 football players took ZMA nightly for 8 weeks during spring training and were shown to have 2.5 times the strength as those that took the placebo.

If you’d like a more natural alternative, try 10 raw almonds before bed. Magnesium relaxes the muscles and is essential for the transmission of nerve impulses, regulation of body temperature, detoxification, energy production, and the formation of healthy bones and teeth. Women of all ages benefit immensely from the intake of magnesium. Besides keeping osteoporosis at bay, magnesium’s health benefits include relief from symptoms of menopause and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It also minimizes the risk of premature labor.

Additional crucial health benefits of magnesium include protein synthesis, relief from bronchospasm (constricted airways) in the lungs, and improvement of parathyroid function. It boosts the bio-availability of vitamin B6 and cholesterol, improves muscle functioning, and prevents osteoporosis, insomnia, constipation, heart attacks, hypertension, constipation, migraines, kidney stones, and gallstones.

Try: Nuts (almonds), whole grains, wheat germ, fish, and green leafy vegetables

5.Water is your lifeline!

Water cleanses you, hydrates you, clears your skin and keeps your mind focused. Exercise depletes your body’s water supply along with minerals and electrolytes.

Drinking 10 – 12 glasses a day is a bit more than the average, but it is essential for your body. It may be difficult at first, but set a goal to drink a glass upon rising and before you go to bed at the very least. Before drinking that soda, think about substituting a glass of water.

While many people believe sports drinks are a great solution for replenishing lost fluids and electrolytes when exercising — most do not realize many of these products contain almost two-thirds of the sugar of a soda. Those high sugars levels combined with sodium, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and artificial flavors actually defeat the rehydration process.

Try: Teas and water infused with lemon or vitamin fizzes such as Emergen-C

5 challenges for you to tackle over the next 30 days:

1.Steady Energy, Serotonin Surge! Protein and veggies at every meal to keep energy even and you feeling HAPPY!!

2.Energy and Stamina!! B12 levels checked and supplementation (if required) to increase energy.

3. Heart Health! Potassium daily from natural sources to keep your heart strong and blood pressure low.

4. Sleep sound – (Supplement if necessary) Magnesium and Zinc at bedtime! or a ZMA supplement.

5. Hydration 10-12 glasses of water a day. Minimum one 8oz glass in the morning and one at night. Reduce your sugary drinks, colas, energy/ sports drinks to 1 time a day or not at all if you can.

In our fast-paced, one-miracle-pill-solves-all-world we often neglect to see the ramifications of such near-sighted approaches. The solution to getting healthy, strong and energized is not without effort, but they are simple and without costly health care fixes.

 

 
 

Partnership with Farrier Crucial to Your Horse’s Success

by Steve Sermersheim, CJF TE, AWCF and Robbie Hunizker, CJF

The relationship between a farrier and owner or trainer is an important, yet often over-looked, part in the success of the equine athlete. It is over-looked by owners. It is over-looked by trainers. It can even be over-looked by farriers. However, a good, solid relationship with your farrier is critical in order to be successful with your horse, whether you are competing or just riding for fun.

Talking to your farrier about any concerns you have is key to good horse management. You are with your horse every day. You should be able to recognize and communicate with your farrier if your horse is having soundness issues or is not performing to his potential. With the internet and social media networks, information on hoof care and shoeing is abundant these days. These sources are easy to access but may not always the best source for advice. While there is plenty of good, accurate information to be found on the web there is also a lot of misinformation. Be cautious and bear in mind that anyone can promote shoeing techniques and products on the internet, regardless of knowledge or qualifications. Remember, every horse differs in conformation, attitude, training level, and natural ability. Equine athletes are as individual as their riders. What works for your friend’s horse may not work for your horse. Respect and trust your farrier’s judgment. Likewise, good farriers will respect your opinion.

Below are tips to help solidify your relationship with your farrier. These are common sense things you should reasonably expect from your farrier as well as things you can provide. You will be pleasantly surprised by the positive relationship that will flourish by following this simple advice.

What you should expect from your farrier:

The farrier you choose should be competent and professional. He/she should be educated and understand the specific discipline in which you are participating. Most farriers work effectively on multiple types of horses, but usually focus their skills on only one or two disciplines. Find a farrier who excels in the discipline in which you are competing. For example, you would not go to a cardiologist for a slipped disc in your back. Likewise, you should not use a farrier who specializes in padded, gaited horses for your grand prix dressage horse.

Your farrier should be proactive in attending continuing education and/or certification testing opportunities. There is no excuse for a farrier not to update his skills and knowledge. There are seminars on shoeing and lameness as well as certification readily available all over the world. Although certification in the U.S. is voluntary, it is an important part of farrier education. The American Farriers Association is the most successful certification program in the USA and offers three levels of certification (certified, tradesman and journeyman) and three separate endorsements (therapeutic, forging and education). Ask your farrier what level of certification he has achieved, he will be proud to tell you.

A farrier should arrive on time for your appointment. As we all know, our days do not always go according to plan. It is not unreasonable to expect a phone call from the farrier when he is delayed or unable to keep your appointment.

Your farrier should be able to answer all your hoof care and lameness questions. Farriers should be knowledgeable of equine anatomy and how it correlates with your horse’s specific needs. This knowledge is essential for your farrier to correctly and appropriately shoe your horse. This is critical in order for your farrier to be able to discuss lameness issues with your veterinarian as well as fill your horse’s shoeing prescription.

A farrier should have the ability to build a variety of shoes for your horse’s individual needs. Not every type or style of shoe can be purchased from the horseshoe supply company. However, skilled farriers can forge shoes tailored to your horse’s needs.

A farrier should display a presentable appearance and demeanor. Your farrier is there for your horses and/or clients. The hoof care professional you choose is a reflection of you and should be respectful of your horse, property and business. Appearance and attitude are a reflection of your farrier’s pride in a job well done.

Perhaps most importantly, a farrier should know when he is in over his head. Farriers are sometimes presented with lameness or injury issues that they have not yet encountered. This is why your farrier’s involvement in the AFA is so important to you and your horse. It provides him access to thousands of farriers, one of which has undoubtedly treated similar issues and can offer sound advice or a second opinion.

What your farrier expects from you:

A good environment is essential for a farrier to do his job effectively. The shoeing area should be clean and dry. The work area should be level, shaded, and well-lit. It should be ventilated in the summer and out of the elements in the winter. It also should be free of obstacles including equipment, children, and dogs.
A competent horse holder or safe cross ties should be available. Be prepared to assist your farrier. Your farrier’s apprentice or helper is not there to hold horses.
If your horse will not stand for shoeing, you must control the horse or ask a vet to provide sedation. Farriers should never sedate your horse.
Shoeing a horse that will not stand is extremely difficult to accomplish properly. Remember, your farrier is not there to train your horse to stand. It is your responsibility to work with your horse to make sure it stands quietly. Be aware of farrier safety! These components are very important for the safety of the farrier as well as your horse.
Be conscientious in asking farriers to add, or subtract, horses from the schedule. Farriers are usually a one or two man show. Their schedules are hectic and somewhat inflexible. Although flexibility is important, adding horses to the schedule can ruin your farrier’s well-planned day.  If you are willing to ask your farrier to add an unplanned horse to the list, be understanding when he’s delayed because another client has done the same. You must also realize that when you scratch a horse from the list, your farrier will have to work hard to fit them in when you are ready. Most farriers book future visits before they leave. As we know, sometimes your farrier’s schedule has to be changed for reasons out of his control. When your farrier’s day goes awry, be patient and work with him to reschedule. He will reciprocate when you are forced to do the same.
Remember that the farrier is the expert. While communication with your farrier is key, telling him how to fix your horse or what type of device to put on your horse’s hoofs is not always the best approach. If you think you know more than your farrier, consider finding someone else to look at your horse’s hoofs. There are thousands of knowledgeable, well-trained farriers out there that can explain why your horse is being shod a particular way.
Have a backup plan for a farrier emergency. Ask for the name of another farrier to help in an emergency, i.e., lost or sprung shoe. Your farrier should know someone with the same shoeing philosophy that he can trust to take care of your horse when it is impossible for him to do so.
Provide prompt payment to your farrier when the job is finished. Your farrier works hard for you and your horse. Don’t make him wait for payment after he’s provided you a professional service.
As you can see, there are as many things to expect from your farrier as there are for you to provide him. Many people think farriers just slap a device on the bottom of a horse’s foot and everything is good. Unfortunately, there are many horseshoers that still feel the same way. This is incorrect thinking!
A knowledgeable, well-educated farrier is an essential part of your horse’s team. Farriers and owners need to talk to each other to truly do our equine athletes justice.
Communication with the veterinarian is also very important. He/she is a crucial part of your horse’s team. Keeping the horse sound and performing to full potential is difficult.
Having the best farrier you can possibly hire is the best way to keep your horse sound. But remember, in order for your horse to truly be the success you desire, don’t overlook the importance of communication with your farrier.