I bought a horse and the horse now has a problem.
Doesn’t the seller have to take it back?
When do I have a legal claim against the seller?
As a general matter, horse sales are “buyer
beware” transactions. Most
horse sellers, even breeders and brokers, do not have return
policies or offer guarantees.
only have a legal basis for suing the seller if the seller
actively and grossly misrepresented the horse AND you can
prove it. For
example, let’s say you purchased a horse for your
10-year-old son and the seller advertised the horse in writing
as “bombproof, kid safe, anyone can ride.”
You, your trainer and your son tried out the horse, who
was quiet as a lamb. You
had the horse vet-checked and he had no physical
days later when the horse started bucking like a bronco, you
made some inquiries and found out from the seller’s former
trainer that the horse bucked off the seller and broke his
collarbone in front of 50 witnesses, which is why he was
selling the horse.
Is it safe to buy a horse over the Internet?
Buying a horse over the Internet,
especially sight unseen, increases the risk that you may be
dissatisfied with your purchase.
Photos and videos can be professionally edited to
correct conformation flaws and mask gait irregularities.
Behavioral and training issues are not easy to judge
from a video, considering that a video is just a snapshot of
the horse’s behavior at one moment in time.
Even the horse’s height can be hard to judge with
certainty from a photo or video.
being said, the Internet greatly expands your horse-buying
choices, and there are things you can do to help protect
and foremost, you can use our horse-buying
checklist to be sure you ask the seller all of the
appropriate questions. Consider
hiring a professional trainer specializing in your breed or
discipline to go out and evaluate the horse on your behalf.
Next, you should have an independent veterinarian
perform a thorough pre-purchase examination on the horse.
If you have any questions about the horse’s
conformation or temperament based upon what you have seen, ask
the vet to pay attention to those particular points during the
exam. Finally, you
should have a written purchase
agreement in which the seller makes representations and
warranties about the horse’s soundness and behavior.
can I get a vet check if the horse I want to buy is far away?
the Internet and/or recommendations from friends, trainers or
your own vet to locate a vet in the same vicinity as the
horse. If at all possible, use a vet not affiliated with the
if the seller is reluctant to sign my purchase agreement?
why a purchase agreement protects both you and
the seller and then answer any questions that the seller may
have. If the seller still resists, move on to the next horse
– asking the seller to sign a purchase agreement isn’t bad
manners, it’s good sense.
want to take the horse to my barn for a trial period, but the
seller doesn’t want the horse to leave her property. Should
I be suspicious?
necessarily. The seller may have other buyers lined up, or the
seller may simply not want to take the risk that something may
happen to her horse while it is not under her care. If you
can, try the horse several times at the seller’s barn
I take my trainer or riding instructor with me to look at
However, even for first-time horse owners, I recommend that
you look at horses with an experienced friend first, then
take your trainer to see only the horse(s) you are considering
buying. This approach will save you money, save your trainer
time and you will still be able to benefit from your
trainer’s advice and guidance. Before you go out to look at
horses, discuss with your trainer what kind of horse you want
and ask your trainer what questions you should be asking the
seller. When you return, show your trainer any videos or
photos you took, and ask him what he thinks of the horse. If
he likes the horse, make an appointment with the seller to
look at the horse again and bring your trainer along. Be
prepared to pay your trainer for his time – to avoid
misunderstandings, ask him in advance how much he will charge
to accompany you.