Andre Dignelli’s Heritage Farm may produce national hunter and equitation champions, but a lawsuit filed last week calls into question the stable’s sales methods.
Pony mom Barbara Tichner-Dildabanian alleges the defendants withheld key information from a pre-purchase exam. She is suing Heritage Farm, her former trainer, Patricia Griffith, and the farm’s veterinarian, Christopher (Kit) Miller, DVM. Griffith presented a welsh gelding named Sports Talk to Tichner-Dildabanian for purchase last year. The small pony seemed to meet her purchase requirements. She says she wanted something suitable for her beginner daughter to show in the Pony Hunter Division, and when outgrown, the pony would be leased or sold. Before she plunked down the hefty $175,000 for her child’s new mount, Tichner-Dildabanian asked for a pre-purchase exam.
Court documents state Griffith called Dr. Miller from Miller & Associates in March 2012 to perform the pre-purchase exam, including x-rays. Relying on the representations and advice of the defendants that the horse was sound, gentle, and suitable for competitive jumping, the relatively inexperienced show mom decided to purchase the horse from Lane Change Farm. What Tichner-Dildabanian didn’t know, is the x-rays taken by Dr. Miller showed the 6-year old pony was suffering from laminitis, according to court records. She later discovered the pony had also repeatedly suffered from sore feet while at Heritage Farm.
Additionally, the pony’s feet were allegedly blocked in August 2012, without her permission or knowledge, so he could compete at Pony Finals. Her daughter and the dark bay gelding placed 13th overall at the competition.
While those responsible for the sale get to battle this matter out in court, Sports Talk hasn’t fared well either. At the ripe age of 7, he is now retired due to laminitis. He is one of the lucky broken ones. He reportedly gets to spend his days turned out in a grazing muzzle.