If you have been mis sold a “problem” horse from either a private or commercial seller the options available to you are as follows;
a) Try and send the horse back to the person you bought it from and get either a refund or an exchange (your rights will depend on the circumstances of the sale and whether you bought it privately or via a commercial trader / dealer and how quickly you act after having bought the horse).
b) Keep the horse and try and work through the issues it has
c) Sell the horse responsibly and try and find someone better suited to its needs
Mis Sold a Horse by a Private Seller
To make a successful claim of misrepresentation in respect of a horse sold from a private seller there are 5 essential ingredients ;
- The seller (or his agent) must make a representation of fact about the goods
- The purchaser must rely upon that representation of fact
- The representation must induce the purchaser to enter into the agreement to purchase the goods
- The representation must be false, and
- Loss must have arisen as a result.
As the buyer you will need to prove;
- The seller didn’t make you aware of a problem that they knew about or should (in their position) have known about.
- They misrepresented or described the horse inaccurately.
- As a result you have suffered a financial loss.
However, be forewarned, during the entire period of the legal battle, the purchaser would be responsible for the cost of keeping the horse and there are no guarantees that you will win your legal battle. Therefore it is crucial to do your homework and limit the chances of being mis sold a horse in the first place. Do read our article here on how to avoid being mis sold a horse.
For a successful claim to be made the horse will need to have a significant defect, either clinically or behaviourally.
Making a claim that the horse has a behavioural defect is not entirely straight forward. Horses are animals and by their very nature can react differently when ridden by new people and put in different environments which can influence their behaviour. In the respect of say a horse that is dangerous, perhaps it rears and has resulted in the new purchasers sustaining a significant injury, it is important to first rule out that the cause of the behaviour is not clinical. The claimant should try and acquire evidence from a veterinary surgeon to confirm the unwanted behaviour does not stem from any clinical defect. The claimant should then try and acquire evidence from previous owners to ascertain whether the horse previously displayed this behaviour and if this behaviour was known to the seller from whom the claimant purchased the horse.
With the evidence in hand that the seller was fully aware that the horse was known to rear or nap as the previous owner had informed them of this information upon sale, the legal case from the respect of the buyer will be significantly strengthened.
Mis Sold a Horse by a Trader / Dealer
Anyone who sells horses for a living is a trader, before you buy from a trader do check out their reputation thoroughly using the aforementioned methods. The law protects the purchaser to a greater degree when purchasing goods commercially. On 1st October 2015 the Consumer Rights Act 2015 came into force which reintroduced many of the rights previously available under the old Sale of Goods legislation but also provided more extensive rights to a consumer. “Goods” which include horses must be of “satisfactory quality, “fit for their particular purpose” and “comply with their description” and a Consumer Contract “is to be treated” as including such terms.
So the horse advertised must absolutely be what it says on the tin and if you make it known to the seller that you are looking for a safe hack suitable for a novice and he sells you something wholly inappropriate that is not allowed.
As a buyer if you feel the horse you have purchased is not “fit for purpose” and does not comply with the description provided and any specific traits you made aware to the trader upon sale you as the consumer have the following rights;
- A right to reject the goods within 30 days
- A right to have the goods replaced
- A right to a price reduction or a final right to reject.
So if the horse is not as described you as the buyer are entitled within 30 days from when ownership has passed, to a full refund. It is important to inform the trader in writing, ideally well before the 30 days have expired, that the contract of sale is termination and you will be returning the horse.
After the 30 days have passed the consumer has a right to repair or replacement of goods. It is important to note that the trader has only one opportunity to replace and if the first attempt is not successful the consumer is entitled to a refund less the amount reasonably deducted for having use of the goods during the period taken.
Seek Advice from an Equine Lawyer
It is strongly advisable to take advice from an equine legal specialist to gauge the chances of a successful claim and the potential costs. Many firms will provide an initial free of charge consultation. Below are a list of lawyers specialises in Equine Law but you can google to find more.
Jacqui Fulton – http://www.equinelawuk.co.uk/
Lodders Solictors – https://www.lodders.co.uk/services/equine-law/
The Equine Law Firm – https://www.theequinelawfirm.co.uk/
Michael Bower – https://www.michaelbowerequinelaw.co.uk/
Tozers Solicitors -https://www.tozers.co.uk/our-services/dispute-resolution/equine/
Keep the horse and work through the issues
Many owners, once they have ascertained that their new horse is not what they thought it was going to be, and the seller has refused to take back the horse, will decide to either keep it or sell it on, but initially the majority will try to work through the problems whether they be behavioural or clinical or in some situations, both. Firstly, issues need to be diagnosed as either clinical or behavioural. There is little point dealing with what you think is a behavioural issue if its root cause is actually clinical so this must be the first port of call if you have decided to try and work through the horse’s problems.
Instruct your vet to carry out a thorough examination with the support of any para professionals in consultation with your insurers. Once it has been determined that the issues are behavioural there is a wealth of expertise available to help understand the behaviour and re-educate the horse. If your long terms aim is to keep the horse, it is important that you work with the professionals to ensure that you too can continue with the training techniques implemented and are consistent and confident in your riding. Even the most difficult and challenging of horses are not necessarily lost causes. The talents of people like Jay Johnson, Monty Roberts, Jason Webb, Paddy Gracey and Sean Hardy can do wonders with horses who others would have written off as being unrideable.
Sell the horse to a better suited home
Perhaps you don’t have the confidence to ride the horse you bought, it is not what was advertised or perhaps due to clinical or behavioural issues it can’t do the job you wanted it to do. It may be you have tried to work through its issues but feel they would still be better suited in a different home. If you have reached this conclusion the most important thing, if you have any compassion for horses at all, is to ensure you, unlike the person you bought them from, are honest about their behaviour and any health limitations.
You may well be considerably out of pocket having bought the horse for more than it was worth, having spent considerable funds not only on keeping the horse but also on vet fees and professional experts, but this is not the fault of the horse. Do not do him a disservice by advertising him as something he is not otherwise the cycle will continue and you will also be putting yourself at considerable legal risk as it is against the law to sell a horse with an issue known to yourself that you do not declare to the buyer.
For the right price, and an honestly written advert, most horses, who can perform a job, can find a suitable home. At Right Horse Right Home we have helped to sell all sorts of horses, some with considerable issues, horses that won’t load, hate hacking alone, horses that buck or rear (or sometimes both). We have a great many experienced horse riders and professionals who will take on projects, many of these horses when they are re-educated, can go on to achieve great things. Similarly just because a horse can only be a light hack, does not mean we cannot find them a wonderful forever home. Be honest, be upfront, think of the horse’s future welfare and accept the fact that the whole journey has been an expensive one but do not under any circumstances, put any of your anger and disappointment on the horse.