Buying a horse is a big commitment, and more often than not, is a serious financial investment. In order to safeguard your investment, you should consider how to protect your position during the buying process.
Paperwork – what do I need to check?
The initial financial investment you make when buying a horse, plus the ongoing financial commitments, are not to be taken lightly. As such, confirming your criteria, is of fundamental importance. You want to make sure the horse you are paying for meets your wish list. With that in mind, the proof will be in the paperwork!
Checking the paperwork your horse comes with will be extremely important.
Is it passported? A horse’s passport contains lots of useful information, such as ownership, microchip details, markings and so on. It might seem obvious but check the horse you are buying matches the passport!
You should always ask for a copy of the horse’s veterinary records. You will want to ensure that vaccinations are up to date and whether there are any previous injuries / conditions you should be aware of. Bear in mind you will need to disclose any pre-existing conditions to your insurers. As long as you are aware of any ongoing maintenance that may be required you can then review the risks and costs involved and take a view before making the commitment.
Sale and purchase agreement
Before making the final decision, you will need to consider what happens if the horse is not suitable for your needs. This is where the importance of having a purchase agreement in place helps protect you.
If you buy a horse from a dealer, or someone who sells horses as part of their business, then you may have some protection from the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Sale of Goods Act 1979. Conversely, if you purchase a horse from a private seller then the rule of Caveat Emptor applies, which in essence means “let the buyer beware,” and you cannot rely on any implied terms at law.
If you are in a position to proceed with purchasing a horse, irrespective of whether you buy via a dealer, a professional equine business, or a private seller, it is always advisable to have something in writing. Written horse sale and purchase agreements are legally binding. This means that if there is a dispute at any point, you are protected.
A sale and purchase agreement typically sets out the following:
- The conditions of purchase – will the purchase price be payable upon a “successful” vetting or trial period for example.
- Any particular warranties – a warranty is simply a promise. The seller should warrant that they are the legal owner of the horse and have the right to sell.
- Any disclosures as to vices and/or behavioural issues – you should be informed of any known vices / behavioural issues otherwise you could end up being mis-sold a horse.
- Any saddlery / tack items that come with the horse. If you have agreed to include any tack within the purchase price, make sure this is stated within the agreement.
- If the sale is subject to a vetting, detail how and when this will take place. Who is going to examine the horse? Who bears the cost of the examination? What sort of examination will take place – bloodwork, work-up, x-rays, scans?
- If you are paying a deposit detail what will happen with this, will it be returned if electing to proceed with a vetting that is “unsuccessful”?
- When will risk & ownership pass?
- Who is responsible for transporting the horse. Consider any travel arrangements carefully – especially if the horse is coming or going overseas.
- Any rights to terminate the agreement and return the horse. Say for any breach of contract by the seller.
Our team of equine specialists have considerable experience in drawing up sale and purchase agreements and can tailor this to suit your specific requirements. If you need advice during the process, our team of dedicated experts are here to guide you. Please contact Elizabeth Clazie on ElizabethClazie@Greene-Greene.com or 01284 717 435 if you’d like to discuss putting in place a sale and purchase agreement.
We can also help you with:
- Stud agreements
- Co-ownership agreements
- Livery contracts
- Loan agreements
- Sale and purchase disputes
- Veterinary disputes
- Riding accidents litigation
Find out more about the team and our services on our website.