Friday, June 26, 2009

Oh what a tangled web we...oh hell, this is just ridiculous

TGIF! And what could liven up a Friday workday more than a tale of craziness from the Arabian horse show world? Well, fortunately for you all - I have one. This might be the best one ever. I just want to put all the guys involved in front of Judge Judy. That would be hilarious.

All right, are you ready? There's a lot going on here, so you have to pay attention.

We start with an Arabian stallion called LD Pistal. Pistal is a son of the ever-famous Magnum Psyche, the Brad Pitt of the Arabian horse world, except that Brad has had less plastic surgery. In case you missed that scandal, David Boggs - a very well known Arabian horse trainer - got caught having his vet do cosmetic surgeries on various horses, including Magnum Psyche. They thinned out his throatlatch and said it was to correct cribbing, in the same spirit in which countless starlets claim a nose job was necessary to correct a horribly deviated septum. Anyway, the AHA suspended Boggs for 5 years but he bounced right back to win U.S. National Champion stallion with his cosmetically improved horsey. Way to make a point, AHA! Woot!

Anyway, so Magnum Psyche sires LD Pistal (shown at left) and LD Pistal is promoted at great expense at the finest shows in the land. He was owned by an LLC that seems to be headed by a gentleman named Jeff Sloan. In March 2008, they sold him to a gentleman named Felix Cantu - for $350,000.

Gee, does anybody think Arabian prices are getting ludicrously inflated again and there's gonna be one hell of a crash like there was in the late 80s? Raise your hands if you see trouble brewin'! I mean, I can see those prices on racehorses...which win money. But how do you ever justify an Arabian halter horse being worth that?

Anyway, Pistal went out and won U.S. National Champion Senior Stallion last year. Awesome, except Cantu had by that time run up a $70K bill with Boggs for boarding and training, and well, it turns out all he'd managed to pay of that $350K purchase price was $52K. So while everybody was happy the horse kicked ass at Nationals,
no one was very happy with Mr. Cantu. Still, the Arabian world was understandably shocked when a Minnesota based breeder, browsing through the newspaper five days ago, saw the following notice:

Published: 06/20/2009

HORSES July 1, 2009 at 10:00 A.M., Midwest Station II, Inc., will sell to highest cash bidder, Chestnut Stallion QUETZALLI, AHA #617002, D/O/B 6/10/2004 and Stallion LD PISTAL, AHA #573783, D/O/B 5/20/2000. Sale held at 16917 70th Street NE, Elk River, MN. Stallions available for inspection during business hours. 763-441-6466 Web ID 6921

It's just not every day you see last year's U.S. National Champion Arabian Stallion being auctioned off like a repossessed pickup! Needless to say, the Arabian world was shocked and surprised and a great brouhaha erupted, in which David Boggs claimed he TOLD Jeff Sloan what he was doing, and Sloan argued he never received actual notice of the sale.

Details are here, but you have to join the board to read it all.

My first question, also asked by a bright gal on that board, is if you only make one payment on a horse and default, doesn't it go back to its owner? Well, yes, that would normally be the case, wouldn't it? How can a barn sell a horse to pay a bill when the person who incurred the bill is not the horse's lawful or registered owner? What is this silly shit? Why didn't Sloan take the horse back and tell Boggs to go sue Cantu - allegedly a bank president - for his training bill?

(Keep listening, it gets better!)

Could it be because Sloan and his partners prefer to sue Cantu themselves, a lawsuit which they have filed for - are ya sitting down? $75 MILLION DOLLARS.

WTF. If I were the judge, I would smack your frivolous lawsuit filing behinds and sanction you for being ludicrous. $75 million. How have you been damaged to the tune of $75 million??? You are owed $300K plus interest, fees and costs! That's what you're owed.

However, you ARE definitely owed it and WTF does Boggs think he's doing selling the horse like this? Someone posted that when you put a stableman's lien on a horse, you must sell it at a sheriff's sale. That may be, but even if that is the law, why wasn't the sale promoted? Why wouldn't you take out a full page ad in the Arabian Horse Journal and say, hey, here's your chance to own a National Champion - for sale to the highest bidder. You know, so you could pay BOTH the training bill AND most of the original seller's price. WHO THE HELL was going to show up to buy this horse, when you hushed it up as best you could until the last few days? Some BYB who might have three grand in hand on a good day? If Boggs had a client lined up to buy the horse, what is the price and are Sloan and his partners being reimbursed? Sure doesn't sound like it. From Sloan: "
Another sad note is that the partners who put the money up to buy him through Midwest in the first place, have lost a tremendous amount of money given that they bought the horse, sold him to Cantu, and now Midwest is auctioning him off to recover their board bill and never even gave the partners the courtesy of letting us know that the horse would be auctioned. What if Carol Johnson had not contacted me? What if we were never informed and the horse were sold out from under us. "

Well, Mr. Sloan, that's why we LOVE the Internet. Hard to keep secrets on the Internet!

(Keep listening, it gets better)

Tangled web, folks. Here's more information: Pistal's got a problem. He's subfertile. He's only got 12 foals on the ground. Most of the mares he breeds, he doesn't settle.

(Keep listening, it gets better) So they cloned him. And now there is a little yearling copy of him that goes everywhere he goes, like Mary's little lamb. Sloan and his partners invested in the creation of this critter in case AHA allowed clones in the future. They wrote up a rather lengthy proposal to AHA about clone management, pretty much ALL of which I have a problem with. It goes like this:

"Here is the story on the clone....

When we learned after buying Pistal that for whatever reason, even with the best fertility care and management - that provided by a man I highly respect - Mario Zerlotti - that Pistal was "fertility" challenged and was having trouble settling mares, we were offered the opportunity to have a clone created for the purposes of being able to utilize the clone at some future date (publically) to produce semen "on behalf of Pistal" which semen would be identifical to Pistal's in DNA.

Before agreeding to create a clone for this purpose, my first call was to another person I highly respect at the AHA - Debbie Fuentes. I asked Debbie if a clone could be used for breeding purposes and she clearly and accurately informed me that currently clones were not allowed to be registered nor are they allowed to be used for breeding purposes. She also however informed me that it was not out of the question, if a proposal were made to the registration committee at AHA that perhaps, under the right conditions, a clone could be perhaps approved at some future date by AHA to be used for breeding purposes. Certainly there were to be no guarantees but that AHA remained open to exploring a variety of things happening in the world of breeding, and there was at least an interest in hearing a proposal for the use of a clone for certain limited purposes.

I then created a proposal that essentially included the following points and submitted it to AHA as follows:

1. That a special class of registration be created at the Registry which would allow for a very narrow and limited use of a clone for the purpose of perptuating certain bloodlines that are valued by the breed but can't be utilized due to fertility problems. I limited my proposal to stallions only.

(FHOTD in: These are not super rare bloodlines that are impossible to perpetuate without cloning the great chestnut hope. Take a look. Magnum Psyche has a gazillion get out there, and LD Pistal is a genetically unremarkable melting pot of Russian, Spanish, Polish, Egyptian and Domestic lines. He's a Heinz-57 of Arabian lineage and I can find you a horse with very similar genetic material at any auction in America. Yes, he is an excellent individual - but the argument that the bloodlines are so special we had to clone him is ridiculous.)

2. The clone had to be used for breeding purposes only.

3. The clone had to be maintained on the same location as the stallion with the fertility problem.

4. If semen was used from the clone it had to be clearly stated in the breeding agreement accordingly.

5. The clone could never be sold independent of the stallion with the breeding problem and could only be sold in a package with the stallion

6. The clone could never be shown in any competition

7. The "special registration" of such a clone for this very regulated purpose had to be approved by an oversight committee at the Registry who would determine registration based on "need" only and that a clone would never be approved for this purpose unless the fertility problem of the stallion could be proven, and if the stallion's fertility problem were ever to be cured and the stallion could breed again, the clone no longer could be used to replace the stallion to produce semen.

I was scheduled to go before Debbie and the registration committee at the 2008 Vegas show in April but because we sold Pistal and the clone to Mr. Cantu in a package in March of 2008, I never did appear and the matter never came up again. At that point, Mr. Cantu owned Pistal the clone and it was up to him to do what he felt was right with the horses, and it was no longer my place to advocate on this matter.

I hope that clarifies a few points, and I would be happy to answer any other questions anybody may have...

Jeff "

Jeff, the only way I'd EVER be okay with cloning is if the clone had ALL the rights of a non-clone including showing. How the hell ELSE do you protect THAT horse's future? It's not cells in a lab, you know. IT'S A HORSE. It deserves a great life, too. And don't you think it's a little irresponsible that you created this horse because maybe AHA would allow cloning and then you drop your efforts to convince them like a hot potato the second you sell Tweedledee and Tweedledum to someone else?

(I hear the clone has a lien on it too - from the genetics lab that produced him. Of course he does!)

I don't know who I like in this fight. They all seem like different varieties of irresponsible horsepeople. I don't like the cloning crap but I will say that Sloan has at least expressed a concern (valid, IMHO) that the horse's future must be protected and that he cannot be allowed to fall through the cracks via this ridiculous public auction. So he scores some points with me there.

Boggs just wants his bill paid, but how was that going to happen when he wasn't publicizing the sale? And given that Sloan still has the horse registered to his partnership, and I am pretty sure was not going to sign a transfer giving someone else the horse when he isn't getting paid a dime out of the auction proceeds, how is this horse even being sold with papers?

Am I just an old cynic if I think someone wants to lose money on the horse? Or that things are being set up for Mr. Subfertile Disappointment to die or disappear so that his insurance money can be collected? There's so much weird here, and I'm not sure I trust anybody.

So here you go - here's the FHOTD resolution to this situation, that would make me think someone actually cared about being fair and protecting the horse:

1. Jeff, you give the $52K payment that was made to David for his training bill.

2. David, you take the $52K as full settlement and you're out of the dispute. Think about the $18K you lost the next time you are tempted to let someone keep running up their bill. Maybe you can learn from this.

3. Jeff, you take the horses back and merely sue Felix for your costs (i.e. transporting the horse, legal fees up to this point)

4. Felix, you take the $52K loss and stop buying horses you can't afford!

5. Jeff, geld the clone and train it as a riding horse. So what if the great chestnut hope there only produces a half dozen foals a year? They'll be worth more money if they're rare anyway.

I can't WAIT to see how this all shakes out. Betcha next we'll have a veterinarian specializing in cosmetic work putting liens on the horses!

It is Friday and of course we have a Friday featured rescue. I met this horse and he's really a cool personality. He is wary but he definitely wants attention and to learn! He is not stupid or high-strung and won't need 6 foot panels like a mustang fresh off the range. I was able to walk up to him and hand feed and pet him. He's a 6 year old, good sized buckskin mustang named Kharma and was recently re-rescued from the Three Strikes Ranch case and Colorado Horse Rescue has done a great job of getting him back up to normal weight. He will need training from the ground up, but if you're up to the challenge and looking for a great mustang in Colorado, please contact CHR.

For those in Washington state, SOS Equines in Kennewick is holding a "spa day" tomorrow, Saturday June 27th, to pretty up the adoptable horses and get great new pictures. Volunteers will also enjoy a barbecue and the whole day should be a lot of fun. Beautiful weather's in the forecast! If you'd like to join us, click here for more information.

On a related note, there is just a wonderful older AQHA mare in danger that SOS can help if a home is found. She is broke to ride and very well bred - registered name Bikini Pants. Granddaughter of Impressive and Doc Bar. This mare IS scheduled to ship to slaughter tomorrow if no home is found. Her price is only $450 and she does come with her papers in order. Click here to see more about her, and pictures. I really want to see this mare find a home. She definitely qualifies as WAY too nice to be a sandwich in my book!