Friday, March 4, 2011

The New Journey.............. Determining the Training......

Part One

There is a downside to the broad sweeping statement I had used in my reply to their counterclaim. You darn well better be telling the truth because, if you are not, it could come back and bite you in the b*tt later. If you have overlooked a statement that was truth and have now denied it in this statement, then you have affected your credibility should the court happen to notice.

Credibility was pretty much this entire case. It was all going to come down to providing to the court adequate evidence it could determine who was telling the truth and who wasn't. I didn't have to worry about my end because I knew I was telling the truth. I also knew that BG and WF were telling all kinds of different versions of this story and none of them was the truth. There were little bits and pieces of truth that were manipulated to support what they wanted to accomplish which was to get this horse without really paying for him.

I was going to have to find evidence to support what I knew to be true so I could expose those distortions as the manipulations they were. It was important I not get stuck with a belief they had meant one thing, when it really meant another. With their claims being so broad at this point, there were lots of different ways what they said could be explained. I needed to be ready for whatever angle they might chose once BG and WF were pinned down to tell it "their" way.

It was going to be up to me to do the "pinning down" of BG and WF. It was clear looking at their paperwork that BG and WF were avoiding details as much as possible. Despite his claim that he had provided a detailed accounting of the work he'd done it was obvious he'd left lots of room to manipulate the information to be supported by whatever he wanted to use.

It was equally obvious that BG or WF wouldn't be deterred by lack of evidence to support their claims. They would manufacture it whenever needed as they had already done. I suspected they would not be above getting others to support their claims even though those people had very little if any real knowledge of what had happened. There were individuals in their barn who were capable of such. Although I did take some comfort in believing that not all of them would step up and do something knowingly wrong.

While this made the case more complicated, it is what made it possible for me to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It would be hard for any judge or jury to believe them when they couldn't keep their stories straight as long as I could expose that to the court. It was in the little details that they made the most errors and believe me there were tons of details. I was bound and determined to find each and every one of them to expose BG and WF as the frauds that they are and to make it simple enough for the court to easily see what it had taken me months and months to uncover.

To even begin to accomplish this, I knew I was going to have to find some way to figure out, as close as possible, how much work BG had actually done that applied to our contract. Since I had not kept a detailed account throughout the entire sixteen month period, I was going to have to use what I had to recreate the information.

Fortunately for me, I had some resources in that endeavor. I had written a brief journal when BG first started young horses under saddle for me. I knew I had some pertinent information there. I also knew there were posts on my blog that would have information too. Then there were my notations on my calendar after regionals that covered all the way to the end.

The calendars accounted for the last 7 months of our association so at least that portion was complete. Although I did not name the horses worked in part of that record, I had enough recollection of the horses that I was working at the time to be pretty accurate about which ones were worked.

Because BG did not work my horses unless I hauled them to his facility each day using my truck and horse trailer (there were I think 3 days that were an exception to this) there were many times I could document that horses had not left my property so could not have been worked. Additional resources I used to determine such days horses were not worked included local weather records for snow and ice days, receipts for doctor, dentist, hair and other miscellaneous appointments I had, records of repairs on my truck and show records. Anything that substantiated I was someplace else or that my truck was unavailable was proof I could not have hauled horses to BG's facility during that time. Therefore horses could not have been trained.

I decided the best way to utilize this information so that it could be easily understood was to build a calendar. Using all of this data I had compiled, I recreated a daily accounting of what had been done that covered the entire 16 months BG claimed in his accounting sheet.

I had begun this process of researching this information weeks before this stage in our dispute I started by reading through each and every blog post during that time frame looking for mention of what we had done that day or mention of what we hadn't done. Any post that stated how I had used my day would be used for evidence.

I methodically printed out a hard copy of each complete post that had usable information. (Even though this meant pages and pages per each post it was imperative that the document be complete. Whenever documents are provided for court they must be complete unless they fit a rule for exception. Then there is the fact they could claim it was edited as some kind of manipulation on my part so completeness is important.) I also built a record of those posts for cross reference stating the date, title and a brief synopsis of the pertinent content so I didn't have to reread each post again to locate the information as I put it to use.

Once I had all of those blog posts printed out, (in triplicate, one for me, one for their attorney and one to be filed with the court). I set up the calendar on my Publisher program. Using Publisher I could format the calendar to contain the exact sixteen months I wanted to cover and I could add proper legends etc to make the calendar easy to decipher. I made it like the typical yearly calendar with a month per regular page for a total of sixteen pages and boxes to hold information for each day.

I began plugging the information into the appropriate dates noting the name of each horse worked, indicating what had been done with that horse, who did it, as well as where the information had been gleaned. To accomplish this I used codes and added two legends to explain the code, one legend for the source of the information and one for how each horse was worked.

Examples for the code I used for the sources of information included J for journal, bp for blog post, c for calendar, e-r for email from BD and so on. For the legend on how the horses were worked, I used colors. I applied those colors to the font each horse's name was written in. Those colors indicated whether a horse was worked solely by BG, jointly by both of us, solely by me or whether a horse was just lunged. There was also a provision to show a horse was not covered under the terms of the contract. (That would be Legs and Dandy)

Each day a horse was trained solely by BG I put in black so there was no confusion. For the other situations, each had its own color. Every horse that was hauled to BG's facility was included on this accounting whether BG worked them or not so the number of horses in each trailer load was accounted for. I wanted there to be no questions about numbers not adding up.

I also noted regular days off and days gone to, packing for, or unpacking from horse shows, also days BG had taken off for specific tasks I knew that hadn't been accounted for in another way. Because the terms of our contract had included a 5 day work week, there was no provision for BG to be paid for days he did not train horses for me. If he didn't work a horse for whatever reason, he was not entitled to be paid for it. That meant horse shows or days he took off to do things for other clients etc did not count as work days despite BG's assertions on his accounting sheet.

In the very bottom of each day's frame I put numbers that indicated the total number of horses BG got credit for working that day. The first number indicated horses that were worked solely by BG. Then there was a plus sign followed by a number reached by combining horses that appeared in that box based on what had happened with each. That was followed by an equal sign. Then the total number of horses that BG would receive credit for working on any given day would result from adding up those first two numbers.

The second number was determined by crediting a half for each horse BG and I worked together. The horses that were being conditioned, I only gave BG a half credit for as well. Why I did this I will explain later but it was based on information in BG's own accounting sheet.

I did not take any credit for time lunging the horses that were being conditioned even though most of the time I was the one working those horses. This gave BG lots of credit that he had not earned because I couldn't figure out an appropriate way to determine when he had worked them and when I had worked them. Because I could not come up with an idea that I could be sure was fair in regard to the conditioning horses. I preferred to err to his benefit instead of mine because that is how I always make such decisions. I do not want something I am not entitled to so, since there was a question, I gave it to BG.

When I filled in this information I automatically included Reflection and whatever horse of mine might be there in a pen during the time Reflection was boarded there. Although I wasn't getting to see Reflection worked (sometimes not the second one either) and I did not always have a horse present in a pen except after my mares had come home, I gave the man the benefit of the doubt and credited those horses on all work days. The only days I did not give him credit for working those horses was when I knew that horses were not worked because BG was unavailable. I even gave him credit on snow days.( I have since learned many times those horses were not worked when BG told me he had but I guess at this point that is no surprise. )

Once I got this calendar all filled in and checked and cross checked for error, then I went about creating dollar totals for each month based on the numbers in the bottom of each frame. I also went through and compiled the number of days that each horse was worked.

It was interesting to note I had a frame of reference to cross check these numbers on the horses to see how accurate I had been. That information was actually in one of my blog posts.

BG had told a trainer at the first horse show in Salem Oregon that Louie had about 68 days under saddle at that time. Then by the regional championships he had confirmed to the same trainer that Louie was under the 90 day mark in his training.

Looking at my totals procured from my accounting, Louie, at the time BG said 68 days, was at 97 days. That meant either BG had either lied to me and the trainer about the horse's actual training at the time or my accounting was off. There was no way of knowing which was accurate. What it did say was my accounting pretty much said I had erred in favor of BG. By the regional show the difference had gotten closer because BG did not work horses thirty days in between those two shows. By that time according to my accounting, the horse had been worked 104 days. I knew my numbers were at least reasonable if not 100% accurate. They were certainly closer than what BG tried to say with his figure of something like $30, 000 for training.

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

A Discovery.....

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  1. I believe that accurate and complete records are the single most important thing any business can do. If BG couldn't do better shame on him. And I'm very impressed with the accounting you were able to document.
    In all the veterinary practices I've worked at I was known as the file police because I would go through the files with a fine tooth comb and if they weren't complete, back they would go. In the medical field you open yourself up to horrible lawsuits if any little thing is missed. That's one reason in my own business I document things in multiple places.
    I also wanted to commend you for a comment you made previously that you were not allowing these peoples actions to taint your view of everyone else. I know in my own life I have gotten a lot of grief for a similar view. But I refuse to change my entire way of being just because some purple are so dishonest. Now that's not to say I'm not careful and wary but I just don't see how viewing every other living person out there as deceitful and out to get me is better for myself. Let alone my mental health.

  2. Wow - I'm impressed. What a thorough system you created.

  3. Sounds like the blog really came in handy. I use mine for reference, as well. I like the way you were able to recreate the time--that is wonderful--and I'm sure it was surprising for those involved on the other side.

  4. I'm impressed too. You certainly put together a comprehensive calendar of what happened. I'm sure this helped in court or at least I hope it did.

  5. Nicole, I am the same way about records, normally. I think the only reason I didn't keep count of horses were were working in the beginning was because I was so exhausted when I got home, I was always "going to" get something set up but never quite got it done. Not my usual, for sure.

    I am with you on the mental health. I think letting people dictate how we see the world turns us into victims and I will never go back to that place.

    Carol, thanks, I have always been a detail person. While I didn't keep complete records early on, I always knew in the back of my mind somewhere I did have reasonable resources to recreate them if I needed.

    Linda, yes, the blog came in very handy in a number of ways.

  6. Arlene, the calendar definitely helped with the case. Building it gave me lots of insights that helped in my strategy.

  7. I would have loved to have seen the look on the face of BG and his attorney when he saw your calendar and the details!

  8. Although I've never had a dispute like this with a trainer, I also keep a calendar for training. I must be a micro manager when it comes to my horses, but I want to keep track of everything.

    I can't believe it's been over a month since you started this saga, and you've been posting 7 days a week. What a huge job it must have been!

  9. horsemom, there were a number of places along this journey where I would love to have seen the looks on their faces.

    redhorse, I have been thinking maybe keeping a calendar like this would be a good idea for me on a regular basis. I don't know if that's micro managing or just wantint to know.

    I think I began this series on Jan 20 and you're right, I've posted 7 days a week. I figure it might be finished in a couple of weeks or so. Seems like forever but considering it covers two whole years of my live, I guess it's no surprise the story has taken this much to write.

    From the point I began working on this from a legal aspect (which was in Jan 0f 2010) I was putting in 10 to 12 hour days most every day. It was a pretty intense time in my life and I'll be glad to put it behind me.

  10. Wow thats a lot of work making a calendar like that. i use a daytimer and try to keep track of all the horses I ride weather they are mine or not. I am trying to keep track of when my trainer puts rides on my horses, but am lucky she is very honest and I ride there most of the time, so i see her riding.
    I too am suspicious of all people, but I want to believe the best in them, but am still a little wary and watch a lot more than I used to , even though nothing like this has happened to me before.
    Wow 2 years, I dont know how you ever got anything else done in that time!

  11. Wow! Mikael I applaud your record keeping, the rest of us should really learn something from all of this. It certainly must have made a huge difference in all of this. I too would liked to have seen the looks on their faces at different times!!!!

  12. I would have done exactly what you have done - reproduce that calendar! I'm thinking that you are so lucky that you hauled horses to him to be worked, and didn't leave more horses there. You have proof and he doesn't.

  13. Crystal, it was a lot of work. I think I spent weeks on it trying to be careful and accurate. I think I am going to begin doing this on a regular basis. With a goofy hear like this I have no idea of how much riding I've done. I just know it isn't much Having an accurate record would be nice.
    Yes, it was 2 years from when the contract began to when I got the horse back. When we did work horses I was exhausted and then recuperating when we weren't. Once the legal stuff began it took up all of my time. I rode Legs first thing in the morning when weather permitted to keep me sane and everything else was pretty much the lawsuit.

    MM, It certainly made a difference to me. Without it I was just guessing at how much work he'd done and as it turned out I was giving him way more credit than he deserved. Because I am committed to the truth, it gave me something reliable I could use instead of tryin to guess. It also gave me insights into ways to catch them in their game. The calendar was very useful.