Legal Advice on Buying and Selling Ponies

by Kerrry Dovey

. Kerry is a solicitor with a particular interest in equestrian-related legal matters. She advises on a wide range of equine issues including sale and purchases of horses, acquisitions of equestrian and agricultural property, and offers advice on loaning/grazing agreements. She is a member of the Equine Lawyers Association. Kerry is a Native Pony Panel judge and regularly competes home produced ponies in M&M ridden and WHP competitions, including qualifying for the Horse of the Year Show. Article reproduced from On the Bit - The Equestrian Law Association Magazine

We are regularly contacted by people who have either bought a horse which has turned out to be unsuitable, or sellers which are faced with the buyer wanting their money back. Each case will depend on the circumstances surrounding the sale but we do find that in 9 out of 10 times there is nothing in writing which means that it is harder to prove what was agreed at the time of sale.

10 Helpful Hints when Buying or Selling Horses

  1. As a seller write your advert carefully and be accurate in your description, don't advertise your horse 100% in traffic if you have only ever ridden him down quiet country lanes. Both Sellers and Buyers should keep a copy of the advert which can be useful if there is a dispute in the future.
  2. If you are having the horse vetted which is always recommended, do not use the regular vet of the seller. You must instruct an independent vet and pay for the vet direct.
  3. If it is important that the horse is good to load, ask to see him load. If you ask the seller to confirm that the horse is vice free get the seller to warrant that the horse is vice free by writing it down. As a Seller if you have told the Buyer that the horse is green and has never been ridden out alone before, for example, write this down and ask the buyer to sign it acknowledging the fact.
  4. Don't buy a horse without its passport.
  5. Be realistic about your abilities - don't over horse yourself.
  6. If you discover a problem with your horse inform the seller immediately and keep copies or notes of all correspondence.
  7. When you go to try or look at a horse to buy always take an experienced person with you if you are a novice.
  8. If the Seller is selling on behalf of someone else, if appropriate contact the Owner direct. Whenever looking at a horse ask lots of questions about vices, what it has done, its breeding, competition record, laminitis, sweet itch, lameness etc.
  9. Cut your losses - If all has gone wrong and you end up with an unsuitable horse, come to terms with the fact and don't always insist on litigation which can be expensive, consider selling it to a more suitable home. As a Seller if a horse proves to be unsuitable for a Buyer consider taking the horse back and finding an alternative buyer, if the horse is genuine this shouldn't be a problem.
  10. Always have a written contract, with details of the buyer, seller, price and warranties (if any) given signed by both parties.