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Buying and Selling Horses

Whatever you pay for your horse or pony the same principles will apply. When you buy or sell a horse you create a contract, which is governed by basic contract law. Generally, people buy and sell horses on the strength of a verbal agreement. While a verbal contract of this sort is legally binding, proving what was agreed several months later can be tricky. A written contract, stating the terms under which the horse was bought and sold, will therefore provide added protection to both the seller and the buyer.

If you buy a horse from a private individual the principles of caviat emptor or ‘buyer beware’ will apply. Therefore, as a buyer, it is your responsibility to make sure the horse is sound and suitable for you before you buy it, as you will only be able to bring a claim against the seller if false statements have been made. If there is no written contract misrepresentation will be difficult to prove.

If you are buying from a dealer or a breeder who is selling in the course of business, the purchase will be governed by the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and as a result the buyer will have more protection available due to the implied conditions in the Act. These are:

  • A warranty that the seller has a right to sell
  • The goods (horse) correspond to the description
  • The goods (horse) are of a satisfactory quality

Conversely, a business seller will be undertaking more obligations in favour of the buyer and it is therefore advisable that the prospective purchaser is made aware of any vices or defects the seller is aware of that the horse may have.

As a buyer you should always make sure that, apart from insisting on a written contract, you do the following:

  • Take a witness and, if you are a novice, a more experienced person to your viewing;
  • Never exaggerate your ability as a rider; and
  • Have the horse checked by your own vet.

As a seller:

  • Never exaggerate your horse’s abilities or potential;
  • Be careful of using statements like ‘100% in traffic’; and
  • Limit any warranty you give to cover only matters which you are aware of.

Finally, while passports are not completely foolproof, always remember that the passport must go wherever the horse goes. As a new owner, you are required to send the passport to the relevant issuing authority to amend the ownership details. 

About the author

Published: Tuesday 25th August 2009
Categorised: Agribusiness

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