LISBON FALLS — The horse is named Knotty, and it could be put down in a matter of days.
But not if Dan Buck Soules has anything to say about it.
Soules and his family once owned the horse, a former racer they got in 2003 through a rescue outfit in Canada. They bought the horse for their daughter, but a year ago, the daughter went off to Alabama, leaving Knotty behind.
Dan and his wife were unable to care for the horse on their own, so they turned the animal over to RiverView Farm on Edgecomb Road, with the arrangement that they could buy it back if their situation changed.
Soules said they had been housing Knotty at the farm all along for $350 a month. It seemed like a good arrangement — the people of RiverView could use the horse to show or ride, while the Soules always knew it was in a safe place.
But Soules said he got a phone call recently from Lisa Bosse, owner of the farm, who advised him that Knotty was sick. It had trouble getting up and would need to be put down. Bosse told the Souleses that she'd already sunk money into Knotty's care, and there was just no other way.
Dan Soules disagreed vehemently. Through his research, he said, he learned that Knotty probably has Lyme disease. It's fairly common in horses, and it's treatable.
"He needs help," said Soules, who has suffered with Lyme disease himself. "He needs medicine, and he needs tender loving care. The horse is not sick enough to put down."
While trying to sort out the matter, Soules said he and his wife went to see Knotty at RiverView Farm.
"The horse came right out of the barn with no problem," he said. "There's nothing wrong with that horse. They just won't let us take it back. They want to kill it."
Whether it's that black and white is probably something that needs to be sorted out by the lawyers. Soules said he has contacted his own. He also tried the local animal control officer and the police. There was no help there — the matter is a civil one, police said, not a criminal matter.
Bosse herself could not be reached Friday and did not return messages left at the farm.
Soules said he's not looking for a big legal fight. What he wants is his horse back so he can try to make it well. Short of that, he'd like some kind of legal injunction to keep Bosse from putting the animal down.
"I'd at least like to get the horse somewhere safe," he said, "while this gets worked out."
Soules said he has a contract granting him right of first refusal if he decided he ever wanted Knotty back. But Bosse won't honor it, he said. The farm owner told him that he had fallen behind in his boarding payments, which may have nullified the contract, he said.
Soules insisted he got paid up and only stopped paying when he learned that Bosse planned to put the horse down.
Why, he wondered, would someone want to go through the trouble and expense of killing an animal when the original owner is perfectly happy to take over its care?
"It just doesn't add up," Soules said. "We'll go and get it. We're willing to take care of this horse."
Whether or not Knotty suffers from Lyme disease has not been determined. It remained unclear Friday whether Bosse had the animal tested for the disease. Dan said all of his research — with the help of a veterinarian service — points to Lyme as the exact cause of Knotty's suffering.
More common in the Northeast than elsewhere, Lyme disease in horses is said to cause lameness, low energy and arthritis, as well as other problems. The disease is typically treated with antibiotics.
RiverView Farm has been in business since 2000 and offers boarding and riding.
Soules said Friday night that he is waiting to hear from his lawyer. Attempts to resolve the matter with Bosse directly, he said, have failed.