A win in an important competition usually does not result in a lawsuit.
But sometimes it does.
Butterfly Painting had a good year in 2009. The horse won that year’s Virginia Field Hunter Championship and also was named Reserve Champion in the Junior North American Field Hunter Championship. It would have been an opportune time to market Butterfly Painting as a proven winner, except that no one was quite sure who actually owned the horse.
Rita Kaseman originally bought Butterfly Painting as an eventing prospect. When that did not work out as planned, Kaseman struck a deal with Robyn Harter, a Virginia horsewoman who hunted with the Snickersville Hounds. Harter would ride Butterfly Painting and take care of the horse’s expenses. She rode Butterfly Painting in the Virginia Field Hunter Championship and some press reports listed her as the horse’s owner when a young rider took the Reserve Championship in the Junior version of the field hunter event.
Kaseman considered herself the legitimate owner of Butterfly Painting and apparently thought of the arrangement with Harter as a lease, although no money changed hands. She wanted to sell put Butterfly Painting, and reportedly offered Harter half the proceeds, but Harter refused to return the horse. She claimed that Butterfly Painting had been a gift from Kaseman and that the horse really belonged to her. Kaseman and Harter wound up in General District Court for Loudoun County, where a judge decided who owned the horse.
Laws in every state have provisions allowing a person to go to court and claim that someone else has possession of property that