This is not “I heard it from a friend of a friend of a friend” either, this is my own personal experience with the woman. It literally makes me ill to merely think of someone else enduring what I did.
Ms. Kern (I don’t know if she’s changed her name since marrying or not, I knew her as Dana Kern) responded to an ad I had placed several years ago advertising my Appaloosa horse for sale. I was honest – he did need some work, I couldn’t give it to him because of the distance I was from the farm I boarded him at. With the horse market the way it is, any interest in a for-sale horse is welcome, especially if the person actually shows up to see them (another gripe for another time). At this point in time, she was owner of JD Performance horses outside of Stroudsburg, Pa. She brought a student with her to ride Killian, and I wil admit whole-heartedly that I was impressed. They did have skill, they got him to move out and he was gorgeous. I let my hopes get lifted that he might have a home. We got to hashing out some details, she wanted to take him on a 30-day trial, so we made up a contract detailing who was responsible for what, how long the trial would be. I decided to have the sale price “to be determined”. I wanted him to have a quality home rather than make a ton of cash off of him, so I would wait and see what she figured he was worth. We signed the contract, and Killian left for her place. (And yes, I have kicked myself every day since for all of this - oh to be so innocent and freaking naive again... *sigh*)
Thirty days went by, I called her to see how things were going. She said that she had injured herself and hadn’t been riding, but so far she adored him so far and would I be willing to give her more time? Okay, fine. I wanted to give him the best chance I could, and there had been no other bites on the sale ad, so I agreed. Another thirty days. Couldn’t hurt.
And then I began to have trouble getting in touch with her. It took weeks before I managed to get hold of her on the phone. Well, more misfortune had befallen her, but all was getting better! She still loved Killian, and had decided that he might not be a hunter, but he would have a loving home forever. He had been in a parade and had done wonderfully for her. I was delighted. So we agreed then on $300 (or $350, I don’t recall) for Killian’s sale price.
That was the last time I heard from her. She did not call, she did not email. No payments. I would call and leave messages, I would email and get nothing. I should have immediately driven down there, but I was busy trying to keep my family from imploding after my father’s death (he’d passed away the day she came to pick Killian up – I hadn’t found out about it yet). That and I (wrongly) didn't want to be a pest. Well, no callbacks turned into her phone not accepting incoming calls, to being disconnected entirely. The website vanished. I contacted the police, but as it’s a “civil matter” they would not get involved. I sent certified letters. I asked around on a forum I frequented at the time if anyone knew of the farm and some people said they did, and that she had left town, taking her horses with her.
And I had nothing to go on.
Every once in a while, I would Google her name. Just… on a whim. Hoping something would show up. One day, something did. I found a website that was welcoming her as a rider. Nice, high-class place (so I figured okay, cool… maybe Killian’s being pampered). Well, I emailed and asked very nicely if they knew her. I got an email that same morning with a rather terse “Why do you want to know?” So I let it fly. Surprise surprise, this guy calls my cell like an hour later from Michigan on a business trip where he’s checking his email. Yes, she had been a rider for them, showing one of their Russian-bred Arabian stallions (http://www.selketarabians...pedigrees/louchiano.html). However, the relationship quickly soured in disputes over fees and board and whatnot. According to him, when they got this very expensive horse back, he was in “bad shape.” (At which point my forehead hit my desk) Well, she scrammed before he could do more than take the horse back. The guy was very nice, apologizing that he couldn’t be more help.
At that point, I went into a complete despair. I knew, for a fact, that Killian was dead. If Ms. Kern could do what she did to a high-dollar stud, my backyard-bred, unregistered Appaloosa didn’t stand a chance. I turned back to the internet and began to post my story wherever I could find a willing forum. A friend of mine did the same. Within EIGHTEEN MINUTES of her posting, someone had found a Craiglist ad (mind you, he left in September, this was now November of the following year!).
I couldn’t call fast enough. It was late in the evening, so I didn’t call, but I emailed several times in a row, I texted. I shook, I cried, I barely slept. There was no way in hell we could have found him over a year later. None.
I stared at the photo they had up on the ad, I had a photo of my own of him in almost the exact same position, with a notable spot on one shoulder. (This is the reason all of my horses are now both branded and microchipped... I want to be able to positively ID them - as they're both rather plain, no spots, no real notable markings) I talked to a woman the next morning who asked me “Okay, what’s YOUR story with Dana?” And… we talked for a while. Now, I will admit, this is the part I am not 100% clear on. But apparently Dana moved in with this woman at some point, but when confronted about paying rent, she bolted and dumped Killian there in rotten shape. The woman had intended to keep him after she got him vetted and fattened up, but upcoming medical issues had forced her to trim down on extra mouths, so he had to go.
So over a YEAR after he had left, he came home to me. At this point, I was all for prosecuting – but the woman who had rehabbed him didn’t have photographs of how bad he was, so it would have been a fruitless venture. I did, however, through that time find out information on Dana and her then husband. A litany of different names used, and one instance of her husband’s name being connected to two different social security numbers. Again, on Dana’s own Facebook page, a rather incendiary exchange regarding a car which, I might be willing to pass off as “he said/she said” if Dana herself hadn’t come across as so callous and exceedingly unprofessional. It reflects the “I am smarter than the rest of the world and thus, I am superior and have every right to take what I wish” mentality.
I will be the first to admit, I was too trusting. I put up with too much stuff waving red flags in my face, desperately clinging to the hope that I was wrong, or I was assuming. I used to think that horsepeople were all good, honest folks – I got a very cruel lesson in how wrong I was. She fooled me completely, I saw a talented, professional horsewoman… and I was scammed. I consider it nothing short of an utter miracle that I found Killian at all, much less that he was alive. Like I said, I just cannot stomach the thought of her working in any aspect of the equine world. None of this is conjecture, this is my own experience, what I went through.
This is not a person you want managing a farm, business, training facility, anything. She may sparkle and shine, but I wouldn't trust her with the welfare of a pet rock.