Horse owner ordered to pay injury in dispute over racehorse

A Donegal racehorse owner has been ordered to pay over €1,000 fees to a horse trainer after a dispute over an injury to a €60,000 thoroughbred.

A Donegal racehorse owner has been ordered to pay over €1,000 fees to a horse trainer after a dispute over an injury to a €60,000 thoroughbred.

Mr Eamonn Crawford of Dungorman, Castlefin was ordered to pay the fees owed to trainer Regina Bonner after the horse picked up an injury while under her care. Ms Bonner, of Deelside Stables Drumkeen, took a civil action against Mr Crawford after he refused to pay training, livery and vet fees. He claimed that Ms Bonner’s boyfriend, Paul Friel, had said they would keep the horse for free while it recovered from a muscle tear.

Letterkenny District Court heard that the horse, Sir Ejay, picked up a tear to a ligament in March 2008 after it had a training session at Rathmullan beach. The horse was put down last year when the injury re-occurred after it had attended five race meetings.

Mr Crawford, who owns 14 thoroughbred horses, said he never allowed any of his horses on a beach. He also requested that Sir Ejay would not be trained on a beach because the softness of sand can lead to injuries and the hardness of the surface cannot be controlled. He said he had gone to Ms Bonner to train the horse because she had a gallop at her stables. But she said her gallop was only big enough to allow horses to canter and for galloping she always took them to the beach. She said Mr Crawford knew this from her care of a previous horse of his, and she insisted that he had not requested that the horse not be taken to the beach. She admitted that the soft surface could induce injuries, but said she always took the horses to the beach when the tide was out for at least an hour to avoid this.

Ms Bonner said she did not know that Mr Crawford had a problem with her taking the horse to the beach until she returned the horse to him and presented him with the bill. Mr Crawford said he was not happy with the bill, she said. “He said he should not have to pay the vet bill. He got very nasty and I got very upset. I got a lot of verbal abuse. He blamed me and said it was may fault that the horse got injured,” she said.

Judge Conal Gibbons said Ms Bonner was entitled to be paid what she was owed and that any arrangement Mr Crawford made with Mr Friel would not have been binding. He said it was extraordinary that Ms Bonner did not have a standard contract of terms and conditions with customers. If Mr Crawford did not want his valuable racehorse brought to the beach, he should have put that in writing, he said.

The judge made a decree of €1,222.91 and awarded costs to Ms Bonner.