A Horse story…
Richard and Burke in Samarquand
As professionals, clients relay heavily upon us to find them information that they themselves cannot locate, as well as to identify solutions to a host of different situations that are not pre‐packaged, off‐the‐shelf answers. In this vein, they also rely upon us to perform some unusual tasks.
A client, an active purchaser of businesses, had employed us for our due diligence services, to determine what issues might be associated with the business that the client was buying. As part of this transaction, she had encountered a most unique problem.
It seems our client had sold a thoroughbred Arabian Horse to the daughter of a dear friend ‐ on terms. The terms of the sale were that the purchaser was to pay $1,000 per month for the horse for one year and that would be that. The horse was worth much more than that, but our client had figured that the horse was going to a good home and that was more important than the money. Horse people are horse people and they know one another and what matters. The terms were not being met, but she was assured the horse was in the best of care. Our client was frustrated but understood that it takes young people a bit more time to understand how they must meet their obligations. However, the “understanding” ended when our client heard a fantastic tale of the friend’s daughter riding the horse through a bar in downtown Glendale, AZ‐ in a drunken state. The details of the evening really were quite ribald and only fit for a newsletter with better graphics capabilities so the story and pictures can be properly paired. With the understanding gone – our client did not what the payments (per the original agreement) but, rather the return of the horse.
Our client called the police, who could not be of assistance since it was a civil matter. Further, our client’s attorney suggested filing a lawsuit. Walking away versus suing offered an end‐to‐end spectrum of effort, neither appealed to her.
At this point, our client had called us for advice. We suggested a “selfhelp” remedy available under the UCC code and under most state laws. We suggested that our client go find the horse and take it back. She suggested we go find the horse with her POA and to call her when we had the horse in our possession. It was too much of a challenge not to at least try. Mind you, while you may think of the west especiallyArizona as filled with horses ‐ I assure you Central Park in New York has more horses than downtown Glendale, AZ.
Our search took three nights of drifting in and out of the bars where the horse had been seen and late on the third night, as our investigator was walking out the back door that led to a bicycle trail at the back of the bar – our girl with the horse was riding up. She tied up the horse and went into the bar. Our investigator promptly untied the horse and road off down the bicycle trail. Not wanting to be branded as a horse thief ‐ we immediately called the police to report a horse “repossession”.
When the young woman at the police department stopped laughing, she then patched us through to the department that handles automobile repossessions. The young officer at the repossessions desk that night thought that our call was a joke ‐ even after he hung up on us as he hung up on us each of the next two times we called back. Our investigator gave his full name and the name of the firm, and finally the officer on the line began to take our reported horse repossession a bit more seriously. The police department’s vehicle repossession database was set up for well, automobiles ‐ with data fields to correspond to the year, make, model and VIN. The officer and our investigator talked it over and came up with an elegantly creative (if misleading) way to fill out the fields and get a repossession case number for the horse.
Year ‐ DOB of horse was 2001 ‐ so it was a 2001 model. Make ‐ Arabian. Model ‐ Thoroughbred. VIN ‐ We provided the officer with the AZ Department of Agriculture’s Hauling Card Number – and like magic, success ‐ a horse repo case number was issued.
We then contacted our client and she (along with two police cars) met us to load the horse into the trailer ‐ after a quick photo session with the officers, the horse and the investigator. The officers, quite rightly, came to see off the horse to make sure this was a true tail ‐ with photos. I am sure the photo session was requested by the officers with a reasons more a kin to getting your picture taken with Sasquatch as opposed to a celebrity investigator.
The moral of this story is simple and straightforward. Systems are set up to handle routine, everyday occurrences ‐ not the extraordinary. Sometimes life’s circumstances require creativity, patience and good humor to bend systems to allow them to compensate for the extraordinary. Our purpose is about solutions not excuses.