Skip to comments.Dispute gives glimpse into high-stakes world of champion horses
Posted on 09/21/2013 7:41:30 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
In a legal dispute over a champion sporting stallion, Wisconsin's Court of Appeals decided it was a case of a horse or two apiece.
But the Viroqua trainer on the losing end of the ruling doesn't see it that way.
"It's been pretty frustrating," said Amy S. Hunter. "Basically it means I live in the wrong state. Anywhere there's some knowledge of the industry this would be different."
Hunter, 43, trained a sick horse back to health and productivity for a wealthy out-of-state owner, who Hunter says was so grateful she told Hunter she could keep it. But after the horse regained Grand Prix show jumping status, the owner demanded the horse back, prompting a lawsuit.
"I feel like the court sees this as a joke," Hunter said, referring to the trial judge's comment that an Irish Draught horse should be pulling a plow. "This is my life's work."
According to the opinion, Grace Shaw-Kennedy of California imported Cradilo, an Irish Draught horse, from Ireland for about $35,000 in 1996 but turned over his care and management to business partner Kassandra Ladd. The horse competed in dressage events for a few years until he was slowed by a lung infection.
In 2006, Ladd turned Cradilo over to Hunter, with the understanding Hunter would use Cradilo for breeding but also try to rehab him for a possible return to high-level competition.
(Excerpt) Read more at jsonline.com ...
Cradilo, a 20-year-old Irish Draught, was nursed back to health and trained by Amy Hunter, a Viroqua woman who lost the horse in a court battle with his wealthy owner.
Irish Draught horse at heart of dispute between trainer and owner in Wisconsin.
FReep Mail me if you want on, or off, this Wisconsin interest ping list.
Hunter feels like she got ripped off. I'm not sure I see it that way. But I'm not a horse guy.
Thanks for posting this. I just sent it to my wife and daughter. My daughter has a good equestrian career starting and has already been involved in a contract dispute as an assistant trainer. I’m really proud of her because she’s been taking the dispute to the courts and winning. She’s learned the importance of iron-clad contracts already.
That’s a great shot of Ms. Hunter and Cradilo going over the double oxer.
Horses eat a lot and have expensive doctors. But, I hear you.
Last year, my D-I-L's beloved horse, which she had bred and raised from a foal, dropped dead just after completing a Dressage exercise. An aneurysm. It was just that sudden. Years of training had gone into that horse and I can't begin to guess how many $$$. She was only about 9 years old.
This is a valid point. 20 years is the maximum age to insure the life and health of a horse, and by that time any remaining market value lies in their ability to breed. If I owned this horse, I'd retire him to stud.
I think this situation was summed up best by Rachel Cox, cited in the story as a Pennsylvania horse farm owner and board member of the Irish Draught Horse Association of North America. "I've seen this so many times," Cox said, referring to misunderstandings among owners, breeders and trainers of expensive horses. She said owners underestimate the effort trainers put in, trainers can get very attached to specific animals, and friends frequently don't execute the proper paperwork. "You really need to cross the T's and dot the I's."
If it's not written in a binding contract, someone else is going to decide. This bitter dispute could and should have been avoided by confirming all agreements in writing.
It’s ironic that people think negotiating a contract with a friend will jeopardize or ruin the friendship. But that is nothing compared to the bitter acrimony, enmity, and outright hatred that results when the deal without a contract sours and goes to court.
Meh. I don’t understand it, this love of big, useless, expensive animals, but I live on ‘Horse Row’ as I call it, and the barns and stables and training areas keep expanding and expanding and expanding!
I read yesterday that Americans spent $62 BILLION on their HOUSEPETS (cats, dogs, etc.) this past year. $21 billion in food and medical bills, and the rest in grooming, toys and frilly-dillies.
Give me a herd of milk cows, any day. I’ll even settle for sheep. More chickens! God’s most USEFUL creature, IMHO.
But no goats. I hate goats. :)
The truth is that written contracts often save friendships. Everyone forgets things, and it's often the little details that become fuzzy over time -- and even fuzzier when one or both of the parties' interests or circumstances might have changed. In such cases, a quick review of the written contract often causes one to say, "Yeah, I remember we did agree to that!"
Good contracts are like good fences, protecting friends and neighbors on both sides.
Our daughter announced at age 6 that she found her life’s calling with horses. Twenty years later, that hasn’t changed one bit! It’s wonderful to see a childhood passion become your life’s work. I do believe she’d challenge your assertion of “useless.”
Oh, I was counting on at least ONE snotty retort, LOL!
Draft Horses that pull beer wagons or plow fields aren’t useless. How’s that? ;)
I also don’t understand going into debt for a fancy car or a boat, but that’s just me. :)
Sure wish 0bama would hurry up with those 40 acres and a mule for us ‘indentured slaves’ on his Government Plantation; a gal’s gotta EAT!
Hey, I held the “snot” in reserve. That was a polite and measured response.
Where is your horse country in Wisconsin?
“The Cow is of the bovine ilk. One end is Moo, the other...Milk!” :)
Which reminds me: I have an article in Countryside Magazine (I think) on single homesteaders and how LOTS of us are doing this. I’ll bring the magazine to work, so next time you stop in I’ll give it to you.
The author is way off here. The horse was originally a dressage horse, but suddenly becomes a Grand Prix jumper at the age of 20.
That is not a Grand Prix class oxer, it's probably around 3' max.
As others have said, she should have gotten it in writing. Bottom line, the horse at the age of 20 is not worth much even as a sire. No one in the US is interested in plow horses for dressage or jumping.
I have extensive experience in the dressage and hunter/jumper field in Wisconsin.
Well, it appears that this is a case of an owner expecting to get care and training for her expensive horse for “free” and a trainer expecting to get the use and profit from an expensive horse for “free”. It looks like each was trying to take advantage of the other. Sad story.
Look at how well he uses his front end over the fence, and the beautiful expression in his ears and eyes.
I regret the “draft horse” comment, he is a nice looking horse, but at age 20, sheesh, let him retire to stud or as a low level riding horse where there will be no more stress on his joints.
She should be able to keep the horse. Former owner gave it her and she earned it.
I have been around horses all my life, but only watched jumping on TV, I notice 25+years ago they all looked like thoroughbreds but now are looking more and more like what we Americans think of as a draft horse. During one event I was watching they said something about one or more of the European breeds descended from the knight horses. Not sure what breed/s the announcer was referring to or if it is even true but the type of horses they ride has really changed over the years.
I was thinking that way too until I re-read the article. If I had to make the decision I would have made the same one the judge did. What swayed me was the owner sending her money to keep the horse going after it was “given” to her. I have sold many horses over the years, and given away a couple- never paid any expenses after I gave up ownership. Seems they had some sort of evolving agreement and absolutely should have had it all in writing.
Now I’m going to have to look for an excuse to stop in :p
If you seek justice, stay as far as effin' possible from the "Judicial" System... as they are the Cattle Rustlers in this story.
Very often I see Mending Wall misinterpreted and used to make a completely wrong point... thank you for knowing what the poem is all about.
Americans used to jump Thoroughbreds. Now they all seem to be warmbloods - part draft. And THAT’S a comment that will get the owners of the $100K+ warmbloods pissed! Oh well. I’ll stick to riding my cheap Arabian on the trails.
Photographing Horses :
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