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Being in the horse industry for as long as we have, we’ve been taken for a ride a fair amount of times by unscrupulous sellers. For the most part we just chalk it up as part of the business and we take those hits so our customers don’t have to. We recently had an experience though with two industry insiders that was so egregious we had to take a stand and do something about it. Hopefully this story will help others avoid similar problems. The story goes like this…

We bought 6 horses from Justin Michels and Ryon Simon. Justin also operates under Michels Performance Horses in Wisconsin and Ryon operates a family business, Simon Horse Company in Minnesota. Together, the duo jumped on the online auction fad sweeping the country and created Northstar Horse Sale. Ryon puts up the money and Justin trys to lend some credibility to the horses so people will think they’re coming from a show barn instead of a typical trader since he used to show. Three of the horses arrived to us a few weeks prior to the others. In that group, one had some missing teeth that hadn’t been disclosed, and one horse was lame. We were assured he was not lame before he shipped so we made attempts at treating him thinking it might be temporary even though he also had an undisclosed previous injury. Before the last three horses were paid for, we had a vet, Dr. Kristina Stoffel, perform pre-purchase exams. They all three passed. We opted not to do radiographs until they arrived since they flexed sound during the exam, and because we felt discouraged from doing them because Dr. Stoffel’s quoted price was nearly three times what our normal cost is and we do our best to keep expenses down to in turn help keep our prices down as much as possible for customers in this unprecedented horse market we’re in. We’re not making any allegations of wrong doing on her part, but we have been told by members of the local horse community in Minnesota that Simon provides her with a large share of her work and we probably would have used a different vet had we known the intricacies of their relationship. When she did the exam, we also had her pull blood and hold it in case we needed it later. After those three horses arrived, two of them became lame almost immediately. Of course Simon and Michels claimed they were sound when they left and they had never had issues before. We had our vet come out and verified they were indeed lame and he shot radiographs. One horse has a cracked navicular bone, and one has other severe navicular issues. The third horse has a previous injury that was not disclosed that is believed to be the cause of his lameness. We instructed Dr. Stoffel to test the blood she saved from the exam. The blood came back positive for bute on the two lame horses and the horse that was not lame in that group did not have bute in his system.

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So We Head To Court

After making attempts to settle the issue, we have filed a lawsuit against Michels, Simon, and their respective companies for fraud. https://caseinfo.arcourts.gov/opad/case/63CV-23-1306   So far we had Michels dodging service for months until he was finally served while selling horses at the Southern Belle Classic Horse Sale. Owners of that sale were made aware of the practices of Michels prior to the sale where he sold multiple horses. Southern Belle managers responded by blocking us on their social media. Michels never even answered the lawsuit leaving Simon to defend it on his own. Simon filed a motion to dismiss the suit which was denied, and we had to file a motion to compel to have Simon answer the first round of interrogatories. We are still waiting on discovery documents that are currently past due. We’ll keep everyone updated on the progress of the case and the eventual outcome. We are sending the horses to an auction to be sold because we simply don’t have the space to continue keeping them. We will disclose to potential buyers the issue’s with the horses.

We’re also going to be taking a more in depth look at the way these guys and others operate in the shadowy world of horse sales in an upcoming three-part expose. We’ll explore topics like how they use multiple names and companies to hide their true identities, how these self-run auction sites prey on unsuspecting buyers by using shill bidders and knowledge of buyer’s max bid amounts to defraud them, and we’ll also take a look at the evolution from the Kill Pen schemes (Simon has one himself called Ryon’s Rescue Pen) to see how those same sellers are now selling the lame and dangerous horses they would have sent to slaughter or the “rescue pens” they owned, to now misrepresenting them in online auctions. We’ll also talk about the smoke and mirrors game that goes on to convince people horses are selling for outrageous prices(occasionally they will actually con someone into paying the price) to try and drive up the prices on the mid priced horses. You’ll see these same horses pop up at sale after sale supposedly selling each time. We failed to mention above that two of these horses in our lawsuit were actually advertised to be in the Northstar sale, but in fact we had purchased them before the sales even ended so buyers that were bidding didn’t realize the horses were no longer actually available and they had no chance of actually winning the auction.

So stay tuned and follow us on social media and Youtube to get the rest of the story!

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