Tuesday, December 2, 2008

An Article I Wrote - Please Review.

I had to submit photos of my rescue horse to the Saddlebred Assoc. from all 4 angles. Chastain thought I was nuts when I was taking a picture of his back side!
This is an article that I submitted to Saddle and Bridle magazine. Normally I only write about local horse shows and barns, but this was a more important News type article. It was inspired by the events I experienced while trying to get my horse reregistered into my name. This story however, is totally fictitious. If you have the time, please read it and tell me what you think.

By: Julie Size

One of the principal objectives of the American Saddlebred Registry is to record, regulate and maintain the official registration of purebred American Saddlebred horses. When a horse is sold, given or donated to its next owner stripped of its papers, it can be difficult if not impossible to reconnect them. Without papers, the horse is immediately devalued and in some cases at risk. Everyone should review the ASR Rules and Regulations displayed online at web address: http://www.asha.net/rules-introduction and then tab over to 2008 American Saddlebred Registry Rules and Regulations page.

Let’s say that an older show horse, we can call him Ben, is given to a friend who has no intention of taking him back into the show ring and maybe only wants to use him as a trail horse. Since Ben was a free gift, the previous owner does not bother with paperwork and may not want to pay the transfer fee. This situation seems very innocent and everything works out for a while. Time passes and the owners of the horse lose touch. Owner number 2 runs into some financial troubles and needs to find a new home for the horse. Looking carefully at all of her choices, she decides to just donate Ben to the Mounted Patrol, thinking about all of his good characteristics that would make him an excellent candidate for this. She gets a nice tax deduction and no longer has the bill of feed and board. The Mounted Patrol evaluates Ben and decides that he is just too old for the job required and takes him to the local auction house. Ben is run through with other horses rejected by the Patrol. With no minimum bid required, the highest bidder takes him, regardless of who it is. By now, no one is quite sure what breed of horse Ben really is, so his newest 4th owner assumes he must be a dressage horse since he is so tall, refined and athletic….and the story can go on forever.

Now, let’s review the above story in relation to the rules of the American Saddle Horse Association. Owner number 1 was in clear violation by not transferring Ben to owner number 2.

Section V in the ASR Rules and Regulations clearly states, “Every transfer of ownership of a registered American Saddlebred must be recorded with the Registry. A complete and correct chain of ownership must be maintained. The Seller is responsible for recording all transfers of ownership including all unrecorded back transfers and for payment of all fees necessary to record such transfers unless and agreement has been reached by the buyer and seller.”

Section XV under the topic of Violations states, “Willfully withholding a Breeders Certificate or Transfer Certificate from the legal owner of a horse … shall be in violation of the Registry and subject to penalty.”

Even though is seems that owner number 1 and 2 agreed to the terms of a free horse ‘sold’ stripped of his papers, it was still a violation against the ASR.

Now back to Ben. Ben’s 4th owner takes him home, saddles him up into dressage tack and is totally disillusioned with the fact that he will not lower his head and does not understand the cues to side pass. In one more attempt to figure out her new acquisition, she puts Western tack on him. It is obvious Ben does not know how to neck rein either and out of total frustration, Ben starts to misbehave. Owner number 4 is convinced she purchased a rogue horse and sends him right back. Tonight though, Ben is lucky. Sitting in the auction stands is someone who is very familiar with Saddlebreds and takes a special interest in those who might be in troubling situations…just like Ben. She, we will call her Abby, buys him, takes him home and starts the arduous process of trying to find out who he is and then to get him reregistered into her name.

It would seem to most that the investigation of who the horse is would be the most difficult part of the puzzle, but sometimes it is not! Thankfully the Saddlebred community is close knit and identification has many times come quickly. Calls to Veterinarians from vet papers, publishing photos of unidentified Saddlebreds on the www.saddlebredrescue.com discussion form, and multiple calls to former owners can yield results in hours. Getting the horse registered into Abby’s (owner number 5) name however can take months. Even if you know the true identity of the horse, it is no guarantee that he can be registered into your name!

Ben’s newest owner realized what a great horse she had and by chance received information leading to the discovery of his real identity. She immediately contacted the first owner, explained the whole situation and requested the transfer. Although seemingly agreeable over the phone, nothing was ever done in writing.

Section V. Transfer of Ownership states, “Transfers should be completed in the handwriting of the seller or the seller’s agent.” Information given verbally has no legal merit. It must be in writing!

Abby then contacted the American Saddle Horse Association. ASHA has a department that handles cases specific to this. She talks to a representative and is given a list of things needed in order for Ben’s case to be opened. She agrees and sends in all of the written documents she has verifying her purchase of the horse at the auction. She also writes a letter giving the details of her investigation of Ben’s origin. ASHA starts where the chain was broken and writes to owner number 1, the person to whom Ben is still registered to. They request a written response, due back in 30 days, to either allow or deny the transfer of Ben to Abby. If Owner number 1 writes in to deny the transfer, he must also give reason for this denial as would be the case if the horse was stolen. If owner number 1 ignores the request from ASHA, another registered letter is sent, this time with a 15 day deadline. If this request is also ignored, the ASHA must move to the next owner and repeat the process, over and over again. Abby is responsible to continue the forward progress of Ben’s case by tracking the deadline dates and contacting ASHA to move the case up to the next step of investigation. This is a time laden process that can take months to years…with no guarantee the transfer will ever be made. If every party chooses to ignore the requests, the case is then presented in front of an ASHA board. They meticulously review the historic details of the investigation and they can make a final decision about Ben’s registration. Each case is individual and must be handled as such.

If the transfer is denied there is still one course of action that could get Ben back into the show ring, if Abby so chose.

Section VIII under Leases & Certificates of Eligibility of Show Part B. “The Registry must execute a Certificate of Eligibility to Show in the name of the current unrecorded owner if, after reasonable investigation and approval by the Registry Committee, the Registry is satisfied that it is not possible to document and record the complete chain of ownership and properly record the name of the current owner.”

How might this story have changed if Abby were not at the auction the night Ben was sent though by owner number 4? Well, he could have easily been repurchased by another horse person who did not recognize him for who he was and that cycle could continue through many owners. He could also be purchased by a broker, a person who does nothing but buy and sell horses for profit. Saddlebred Rescue has been known to pay quite a high ransom to get these horses back into safe hands. The last possibility is the worst. The brokers who wait around at auctions, claiming horses who are sold at prices so low, they can easily be shipped across the border for a profit to slaughter houses. None of us want to think that our beloved horses could face such a terrible end and the only thing you can do to try and prevent this from happening is to never let your horse go without taking the responsibility of reregistering him in his new owner’s name!


Ginger said...

Thats a great article you wrote, Julie. I can see how all that could happen, and it would of been so easy to avoid all the red tape, if the first seller had done the right thing and did the transfer papers.
Your rescue horse is a beauty. He/or she, is lucky to be in your care.

Terrie's Lil' Piece of Serenity said...

You are an amazing woman. I love reading your blog. What a beautiful horse. And he's lucky you rescued him!!

justabeachkat said...

Good job Julie! He's a beauty!


Susan said...

Julie, you have such a kind and loving heart. I love to read about your animals. I'm so glad your horse found its way to you.

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