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Buying a Horse

Buying a horse

What do you want you horse to do?

When buying a horse you can avoid some of the common pitfalls by following the practical steps provided below. If you have issues with your new horse we have provided some advise on what you can do next.

Practical steps before you buy:

• Be clear about what you expect the horse to do, as well as the temperament and physical ability required to do that. Also, be honest about your own ability.

• Take someone you trust, has the appropriate expertise and will be able to see through any sales pitch as well as assessing whether the horse is right for you.

• Has the horse been worked (lunged or ridden) prior to your arrival? If so, why?

• Ask about the horse’s background, experience, temperament and its age.

• Why is the horse being sold? If it is being sold by a dealer ask why the horse came to them.

• If possible ask to see the passport so you can compare the details.  Make a note of any previous owners who may be happy to provide further information.

• Ask about any previous injuries, health issues, medication or treatments, shoeing requirements or issues, vices etc. Request copies of the veterinary records or speak to the farrier.

• The horse should be observed being handled – in and out of the stable.

• Ask how it behaves in different environments?

• What is it like to rug up, load, shoe and clip? Ask for this to be demonstrated e.g. ask them to get the clippers out.

• Watch the horse being trotted up without any tack to get a feel for how it behaves and how it moves without human intervention.

• Monitor how the horse behaves and reacts to being tacked up.

• It is strongly recommended that the owner or their jockey rides the horse before you do. You should see it worked through all its paces and if you are looking to jump the horse this should be demonstrated at a level appropriate to the horse’s age and experience.

What next?

• Always arrange to see the horse a second time and if possible take the horse on trial for a short period of time (be clear about the terms of that arrangement before taking the horse).

• Arrange for your vet or an independent vet (not the owners’) to complete a pre-purchase examination or 5 stage vetting. Ensure that the vet understands exactly what type and the regularity of work the horse will be undertaking. This will enable the vet to provide an accurate assessment based on the horses confirmation and health.

• If you are considering purchasing the horse ask the seller to provide a written description of the horse and all the information that they have given to you verbally e.g. history, temperament.

• Keep a copy of the advert, any invoices and agreements.

• Until you are certain you wish to proceed, do not pay for the horse or put down a deposit. Any deposit, no matter how small, can be legally binding.

What if?

• Your bombproof hack won’t go beyond the end of the drive.

• A grade A showjumper is only fit for flat work and hacking out due to an undisclosed condition.

• The seller didn’t classify your horse eating its way through its stable and wind-sucking as a vice.

• That “first pony” your children were so excited about is losing its appeal as they spend more time on the floor than on its back.

• You double check the passport and the details don’t match the horse you purchased.

Always remember…

• A change in a horse’s environment, routine, feed and owner/rider can be extremely stressful and this in itself can cause changes in their behaviour and temperament which may resolve themselves in a few days.

• Notify the seller and discuss these changes or any other issues as soon as possible.

• It is always an idea to keep a note of the conversation for future reference.

Buying a horse from a private individual – if a dispute arises:

• Seek appropriate legal advice.

• You will need to prove the following:

o The seller didn’t make you aware of a problem that they knew about or should (in their position) have known about.
o They misrepresented or described the horse inaccurately.
o As a result you have suffered a financial loss.

• You may have the right to a full refund of the cost of the horse, any expenses that you have incurred e.g. keep/livery, vets, travelling costs if a breach of contract can be proved.

• You need to be aware that these cases can often be very complex and as a result can be expensive to pursue. In some cases, it will be possible to agree a settlement avoiding the need to incur the expense of going to court. You will need to consider the price you paid for the horse and any expenses incurred against the cost of the litigation.

Buying a horse from a dealer or professional – if a dispute arises:

• Seek appropriate legal advice.

• A professional horse seller or dealer shouldn’t have any issues in taking a horse back if it has behavioural or health issues. Normally they should offer a more suitable horse or refund the full amount of the price paid.

• If they offer to sell the horse on your behalf, politely refuse as you would be responsible to the next purchaser if the horse continues to display behavioural or health issues.

• The Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Sale of Goods Act 1979 protects you when the seller is a business. This means that the horse must be:

o As described e.g. “8 yr old Irish Sport Horse mare” or “Quiet to load, shoe & clip”.
o Fit for purpose e.g. “first pony” , “top eventer”
o Of suitable quality for the required usage e.g. no physical or health problems that would prevent the horse performing at the level you require.

The British Horse Society provides some very useful information on their website. This includes:


Free Initial Enquiry

Michael, Rebecca and the team would be delighted to explain how they can help. For your free, initial enquiry, please:

Free Initial Enquiry

The Equine Law team would be delighted to explain how they can help. For your free, initial enquiry, please:


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What our clients say..

Thanks again for going above and beyond to get that contract drawn up. We are very pleased with it!

We really are so happy with the work done and all your advice has been taken on board. Its been a great experience.

Ms Black 23.10.2020   

Michael put me at ease straight away. He was so approachable and welcoming from the the first minute I spoke to him. He had so much knowledge and gave me such fantastic advice. He really helped to clarify my position and ways forward. I would highly recommend Michael Bower for anyone wishing to seek legal advice and representation.

Mrs Young 26.10.2020   

I asked Michael Bower to assist me on a potential property issue concerning our boundaries and rights of access.

I was very glad of his competent help and practical advice. He immediately came to view and discuss the site in question, and followed it up with detailed and rigorous research, document search of deed and land registry. His responses were detailed, clear and prompt. He was always easy to contact and gave realistic appraisal on the problem of pursuing the issue without adequate back up – including potential costs.

I would strongly recommend him for attending to enquiries of this kind

Nigel Young PhD. 16.09.2020   

I would like to thank Michael for the expedient, efficient, and professional manner in which he assisted me with a personal legal matter surrounding my horse.

His courteous, down to earth attitude and his ability to grasp the seriousness of the situation was indeed a great comfort to me. The matter has now been resolved and I can only thank Michael for his time in helping me sort the issue to its favourable conclusion.

I would have no reservations in recommending Michael and WTW solicitors to anyone.

Sue Williams 27.04.2020   

Rebecca was absolutely fantastic. Not only did she have a true understanding of my side of the story, but she went above and beyond with doing background research for me, taking a real interest and wanted to succeed as much as I did. She also spent time answering my many questions and giving me advice over the phone before I even became a client, which she didn’t actually have to do, and most solicitors will not do until you are a client.

I really felt as if, contrary to the other solicitors I spoke to before chosing Rebecca, that she genuinely had my best interests in mind rather than just wanting to take my money. She then did an excellent job corresponding with the person the case was against and instilled confidence in me to remain strong, whilst remaining honest and realistic throughout. Although my case was fairly clear cut, I have no doubt that in another situation she would have still been honest with me about my options.

She has so much knowledge on legalities that she always had an answer for my queries, however specific they were. I don’t have much knowledge of law but Rebecca always explained things in a clear way that left me confident I understood what the next steps and options were. I couldn’t recommend her highly enough, especially for someone looking for an expert in equine law.