Four times, Eugene Reesink of Reesink Horses had to appear in front of court for four lawsuits. At each session, Reesink won, but the American celebrity, who earns 276 million dollar a year, continues to sue him.
It all started with the sale of a Grand Prix horse to the company Old Dogwood LLC.
On 19th February 2007, Old Dogwood and Reesink reached an agreement for purchase of a dark bay Grand Prix horse, which Old Dogwood acquired for 260,000 euro. On 21st February, the sales price was paid and according to the agreement and as well as legally the horse was considered sold. On 23rd February 2007 the horse was shipped to the United States where it came at the disposal of Old Dogwood on 1st March 2007. Reesink's lawyer, Stephan Wensing, can not disclose the identity of Old Dogwood; only that it concerns an American celebrity who earns 276 million dollar a year. Reesink had to sign a letter that he would not publicize the identity of the buyer. After some investigation, it can be discovered that Kate Capshaw is registered as owner of Old Dogwood LLC. The link between Capshaw and the American movie director Steven Spielberg is retrieved after some research on the internet. They are husband and wife. Wensing explained that the horse has been vet-checked three times before shipment to the States. "Even on the day of shipping, the horse was veterinary checked," Wensing said.
On 21st June 2007, Old Dogwood repealed the sales contract. In a letter, Old Dogwood communicated that the horse is lame due to an injury which had to be present before the acquisition of the horse by Old Dogwood. Reesink disagreed and both parties got involved in a legal procedures. "Change of stable, the shipping, the climate, the footing could all have caused this lameness," Wensing explained. First of all Old Dogwood subpoenaed Reesink but this was rejected by the court on 2nd August 2007. Old Dogwood demanded Reesink to take back the horse within 48 hours or else pay a fine of 2,500 euro per day. Old Dogwood appealed at the Judicial Court in Amsterdam. On 10th January 2008, the second claim by Old Dogwood was denied. During the trial, it came to light that Old Dogwood had shipped the horse back to The Netherlands. "Just like a post order package, they had returned the horse," lawyer Stephan Wensing stated. The horse has been stabled at Egbert Kraak's Stable De Craecken in Zwaanshoek, The Netherlands, since 25th April 2007.
"Reesink found out that the horse was not being taken care of. Old Dogwood deliberately ignored the recommendations of their own veterinarians," Wensing added. On 2nd January 2008 Reesink had the horse confiscated. A legal guardian was appointed for the horse, who stabled it at equine clinic De Watermolen. "The horse was shoed wrongly which prevented it to recover from its injury." Old Dogwood sued again, with the intension the annul the legal guardianship and to fine Reesink 442,000 euro. Old Dogwood also claims that the legal guardian is incompetent because he is not independent because the horse has been stabled at one of Reesink's in-house veterinarians. Old Dogwood's objection against the guardian is out of fear that a new medical examination of the horse will take place which will bring up evidence that will counteract Old Dogwood's original claims about the horse's ill health. Reesink believes that Old Dogwood has an advantage by having a lame and unhealthy horse so that they can win their case and have the purchase annulled. This was the reason why Reesink put the horse under legal guardianship. "Under custody and in good care, the horse was no longer lame and was able to perform well the Grand Prix movements such as passage and piaffe despite a one year training set back." The court ruled in favour of Reesink on 5th February 2008. The judge thinks it is plausible that the American company believes it is positive for their case to neglect the welfare of the horse. The court also ruled that Reesink has no advantage is neglecting the welfare of the horse, which for the record has not been claimed by Old Dogwood. "On this basis, the judge ruled that the legal guardianship over the horse has to be maintained and old claims by Old Dogwood are denied," Wensing conferred.
The court does acknowledge Old Dogwood's objection against the legal guardian as Reesink has connections with the guardian and De Watermolen. Therefore, both parties have agreed that a Grand Prix dressage horse needs special care and training. Both parties consider De Lingehoeve a good alternative for De Watermolen. This farm, however, was not willing to take on a horse that is kept under legal guardianship. That is why the judge ruled that the horse could stay in Haaksbergen. Old Dogwood does not object to the fact that the legal guardianship has led to an improvement of the horse's condition. The legal guardian had indicated that no one is allowed to approach the horse without his approval, and that no special medical treatment has been carried out on the horse and that he has ordered to have the horse reshod. "In the meantime we know that blood has been pulled from the horse to check whether De Watermolen has played by the rules. The results are in favour of Reesink and De Watermolen. No illegal substances have been found in the blood."
Reesink has won for the fourth time and Old Dogwood has lost. Nevertheless, Reesink is paying much money for this affaire. They have to pay their own legal fees. Stephan Wensing said that Old Dogwood is not happy with that and has filed their next lawsuit against their client. Meanwhile, the Grand Prix horse is 'unemployed'. "According to Jan Greve he's "fit to compete"." Eugene Reesink regrets this case tremendously, especially because the welfare of the horse is being jeopardized. Even though he has won every lawsuit, he does not feel victorious. Reesink considers it most regrettable that Old Dogwood is throwing the horse away like a broken old toy.
L.M. Schelstraete, lawyer for Old Dogwood, was not available for comment.
Article by Carolien Tesselhof-Bruggink for Paardenkrant - Translation Eurodressage
Article copyrighted De Paardenkrant
Photo copyrighted Astrid Appels/Eurodressage