Unfortunately, due what I believe are unethical business practices, I am filing a report. I do not feel I have any legal recourse (and he knows it) and I'm tired of being bullied.
I bought a six year old gelding from him as an endurance prospect in February of 2012 sight unseen. Very expensive lesson learned about buying a horse unseen. Decision was made to buy the horse based on a video, and the trust that I put into the conversations I had with Mr. LaPlants' trainer/agent Jennifer Hudson, with whom the horse had spent 60 days with in the fall of 2011. The horse was bought with a contract that had a 40% down payment, 3 months of payments, and then the remaining balance due to be paid at the end of 90 days. Contract also had a 30 day return clause.
Horse was shipped and the minute the horse stepped off the trailer I knew I had been duped. The horse was not what the trainer nor owner had represented to me. He was also underweight (body score of 3), ulcers and had a bad case of rain rot. The horse had a lot of handling issues. The trainer did not return emails or phone calls. I spent over $1,000 over the next 90 days in training fees and vet bills to get the horse healthy and safe to handle. The horse was supposed to be broke to ride, and safe to ride alone on. Our determination was that he had been ridden, was very green broke, and was not safe to ride alone on.
At the end of 90 days based on the advice of trainers and the need for at least 30 days of additional professional training for the horse to be safe for me to ride, I made the decision to return the horse or try to renegotiate the price of the horse to help pay for the additional training expenses.
I contacted Mr. LaPlante and he said to return the horse. I paid for the horse to be shipped back (at the end of May) and he arrived back in KY in better shape physically and mentally then when he arrived at my place. I returned him with a letter explaining all the issues the horse had and the training that had be done to try to help the horse, copies of the vet bills, etc. I did not receive a response from Mr.LaPlante to the issues I addressed in the letter.
It really bothered me to return the horse to Mr. LaPlante. The horse was very sweet and he had come to trust humans and was slowly building confidence. But, I did not have either the time nor money to give the horse what he needed. He needed someone who either was a trainer or had a lot of money to spend on a good trainer to help rebuild his confidence and overcome a lot of his man-made issues. He also needed time - at least two years. I should also mention that I did try to sell the horse. I was hoping to sell the horse to a good home, get the money I still owed for the horse to give to Mr. LaPlante and recoup the money I had paid on him already. I was very honest to the potential buyers about where the horse was at and I didn't have the papers in-hand so was unable to sell the horse in the required time frame.
After the horse was returned I called Mr. LaPlante and he said I would have to wait till the horse was sold until he returned the money I had given him. This was not mentioned during our earlier conversation about returning the horse. I decided not to argue with Mr. LaPlante and wait till he sold the horse.
The horse has now been sold. When I contacted Mr. LaPlante after discovering the horse had been sold he told me he had to "run some numbers" and he'd get back to me. A week later I received a letter in the mail that he has changed his mind, is charging me 180 days of board (he owns a very large farm in KY where the horse is out on pasture), sales commission, coggins, etc., all because I didn't notify him within the first 30 days as stated in contract. So, by his calculations he owes me nothing. Of course, none of this was mentioned during our first conversation about returning the horse.
I will leave it up to the reader if they believe that Mr.LaPlante's actions have been ethical and professional. Personally, I believe him to be a liar and a thief. I understand now that the horse industry has more people who behave like Mr.LaPlante than any other industry. Seems to be the industry norm. People were actually telling me that I should not pay for what I owed on the horse and make Mr. LaPlante go to court to collect the money. However, I don't want to live in a world where there is no honor nor trust, and was raised to do the right thing.
As consumers, we shouldn't put up with liars and thieves and should be able to have a voice. So, in my opinion, buyer beware.... I hope no one else gets as screwed as I did by this owner and trainer.