Before you even
consider buying a horse, we recommend that you read the Horse
Owners Guide which reproduces the excellent equine welfare document
provided by DEFRA
How do I
know if I am buying from or selling to a dealer?
Although it is the
dealer’s responsibility to make this clear when they place an
advert, some will still advertise and act as private sellers. Check
the passport for previous owners and if in doubt, contact the previous
owners for the animal’s history. If the seller does not have the
passport or does not let you see it, walk away.
Selling a horse
can be a very emotional business and there are those that will take
advantage of this. People sometimes sale a horse or pony cheaply as
they think it will be going to a good home. There are those that will
take advantage of the situation, see a bargain and buy the animal to
sell on very quickly for a profit. Others advertise for cheap horses
to bring on, please be aware that in some cases they may be looking
for horses to sell.
If you are in this
situation, please be careful, make enquiries into the buyer and consider
a written contract to have the animal back if it the buyer finds it
a horse: Your rights
advice from HORSE magazine on your rights when buying a horse
If you're planning
to buy a horse, make sure you know what your legal rights are first
to avoid any disputes arising.
The Sale of Goods
Act applies only if you buy an equine from a person classified as
a 'dealer'. Buying from a dealer can offer the best protection.
If you find your
new horse has a problem, making him unsuitable for the purpose you
bought him, you're entitled to your money back – even if the
dealer denies knowledge.
The Act implies
certain conditions of sale – your 'statutory rights'.
1. The horse must
be of 'reasonable' or 'satisfactory' quality – for instance,
free of defects such as lameness – unless you have prior knowledge
and accept the condition.
2. The new horse
must be fit for the purpose for which it was generally sold, or any
purpose made known at the time of the agreement.
3. He must be
'as described'. If your new eight-year-old turns out to be over 18,
it's a breach of trading standards.
If one or all
of these criteria are not met, you may be entitled to a full refund
or the difference in value between the horse you thought you were
buying and the one you got..
is a different matter. The law 'caveat emptor' (let the buyer beware)
If the horse has
a problem, you must be able to prove the seller knew, or ought to
have known, about it in order for you to get a refund. And suing for
breach of contract can be difficult, lengthy and costly.
adviser, Nicola Cook, says: "If you innocently rely on the vendor's
comments, such as believing the horse to be vice-free when it turns
out to weave, then you have the right to your money back, including
the full cost of the horse, compensation and other expenses incurred.
have to be able to prove that the seller represented the horse wrongly
or inaccurately. In court, that could simply come down to your word
against theirs. For this reason, you should get a written representation
from the seller when you buy a horse."
Minimise the risk
of being taken for a ride with Nicola's advice checklist.
1. Always take
another person with you to act as a witness.
2. Get the horse
vetted by your own or an independent vet. Tell the vet what activities
you want the horse for.
3. Try the horse
out at least once and watch it being ridden by its current rider.
Watch how he responds when being tacked up and in the stable.
4. Face the horse
with different scenarios: ride him out alone, in company and in traffic.
If it's important he can jump, try him out over fences and coloured
poles. Also, it's a good idea to see him being loaded.
5. Get something
in writing from the vendor that confirms the horse is what they say
he is. This helps to avoid confusion and provides some signed evidence
to back up your claim in court, should it come to that.
6. Reputable dealers
will agree in writing to take a horse back if it has a physical or
behavioural problem and either refund the purchase price or offer
an exchange. Don't let the dealer take the horse back to sell it on
your behalf. You, and not the dealer, could be sued by the next owner
if you fail to disclose a problem.
7. Ask to have
the horse on loan for a week's trial period to see how he reacts in
unfamiliar territory and give you time to make up your mind. Get fully
8. If there's
a problem, act straight away. The longer you leave it, the more you
risk losing your right to a full refund, although you'll still be
able to claim damages.
9. Never buy a
horse without first seeing its passport.