Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Life........and Its Lessons........Buying....the Unexpected

Part 1

When we sign a contract to purchase a horse we generally think of that contract as an obligation. We tend not think about the legal rights a written contract give us when making decisions about the welfare of the horse. I would imagine that's because we don't think about "life" getting in the way and causing unexpected issues.

As I mentioned before this particular horse was Lindsay's therapy horse. He started off as my first show horse with the intention he would move on to Lindsay sometime later down the road. However, Lindsay's pony died during the first year of her cancer treatment and she needed another horse immediately.

Lindsay's desire to live and fight her illness were tightly tied to her connection to "her" horse. We didn't have the money to pay off the horses we were buying on those contracts so we sure didn't have the money to get Lindsay a new pony. Instead this third horse took over the duties of that pony.

Because Lindsay was already attached to this horse using him as a replacement for her pony was acceptable to Lindsay. Otherwise I hate to think what might have happened. Lindsay health was precarious and her survival still a big question.

At one point in this journey the horse injured himself and was on stall rest for a time. Lindsay's health was bad enough she wasn't getting any therapy riding anyway. At least she knew the horse was there for her in the barn. That connection was the thing that was important to Lindsay's well being.

One morning I went to the barn and found the horse standing in one corner of the stall looking at his food in the opposite corner. The horse hadn't touched a bite which was not like this chow hound at all. I immediately began looking for some explanation.

As I stepped into the stall my eyes scanned the horse looking for some explanation of the untouched meal. As my eyes travelled down the horse's back legs, I saw the problem. My heart sank into my stomach as I saw the horse's right hind hoof was rolled over onto it's outside and the toe was touching the inside of the left hind hoof. I didn't know "what" specifically the injury was but I knew whatever it was it was NOT GOOD!

I moved the horse's hay right in front of his face where he could reach it. Then I raced to the house to call my vet. I tried to stay calm not to upset Lindsay. I also called my neighbor to come sit with her while I tended to the horse.

When my vet arrived, he didn't know what to say. He had never seen such an injury. He recommended I take the horse to Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital in Snohomish for treatment. I agreed so my vet stabilized the leg with a splint made from 2 x 4's and duct tape so we could make the trip.

That silly horse began kicking the walls of the trailer from the time we closed the doors. We hurried to get on the road so hopefully he would discontinue the kicking and not do anymore damage to an already frightening injury.

Before we left, I called the holder of the contract notifying her of the injury. When I arrived at Pilchuck I learned the woman had called the vet there and was insisting the horse be euthanized so she could get her money from the insurance I was contractually obligated to carry.

I was appalled at the seller's request. I was equally appalled that the veterinary hospital was actually considering giving her what she wanted. Luckily as the buyer on the contract I knew what my rights were in this case even though I didn't really "own" the horse yet. Washington State law gave me the right to make the decision about whether the horse got treatment or not as long as I paid for that treatment.

Even at that this veterinarian was more intimidated by the woman with money than by me. He told me I was putting HIM in an awkward position by not allowing him to do as this woman asked. I gave him an earful about how he would look to a jury in a courtroom having euthanized the horse of a child with brain cancer because a wealthy woman wanted her money.

Fortunately it didn't ever have to go that far. When the x-rays were completed the horse was diagnosed with a dislocated fetlock. The horse's colateral ligament had blown allowing all of those tiny bones in the fetlock to spread all over the place. This was an injury the insurance company would find reasonable to treat. That diagnosis gave the vet what he needed to placate the woman who thought more of money than my sick child.

I will never forget this woman's lack of compassion and integrity. I suppose I should have known that she was capable of this. I had other dealings with her that clearly showed money was her god.

To be continued....................

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  1. Fighting for right is always worthwhile and rarely easy. It is a "Them and Us" World. Pick a side.

  2. Gosh, I have never heard of that kind of injury before. Did he do it by kicking, do you think?

  3. Wow. You are right...that would not have looked good to a jury. At least it didn't have to go there.

  4. English Rider, you're right about it not being easy. It really is a shame it has to come down to picking sides. The world would be so much better off if people would be interested in what is good for more than just themselves.

    Fantastyk Voyager, no the injury was not from kicking. The initial reason he was off was a slight strain to his suspensory ligament. The vets figure he laid down with the weak leg underneath him. When he tried to get up the suspensory couldn't handle its usual load putting excess strain on the colateral ligament. That ligament is a small one on the side of the fetlock and is not designed to take load only to keep the bones in place from what I understand. With the excess pressure the ligament blew and the bones popped out of place.

    photogchic, I wonder to this day whether that vet would have taken the risk of finding out what a jury would think. I could tell by the look on his face he was not pleased that I brought it up. Believe me if he had euthanized that horse my next stop would have been a lawyer. I felt like I was fighting for my daugher's life not just that of the horse.

  5. People are amazing. How could she even think of putting him down without even knowing what was wrong with him yet. Money is the only thing some people worship and it's a shame to go through life like that. You were right to fight for your horse and your daughter. Glad it didn't go to the courts and it all worked out well in the end.