A competitor and dealer who sold an H&H reader a chronically lame horse has so far evaded paying compensation, despite being found liable for costs in court.

Sheree Graves said she had been left around £12,000 out of pocket after buying five-year-old Dumond from Luis Principe of Heathfield Park, Bletchingdon, Oxfordshire, in 2005.

Despite Dumond appearing sound at the time of purchase, Mrs Graves later discovered that Mr Principe had, on veterinary advice, agreed to inject cortisone into three of the gelding’s legs prior to the sale.

Two weeks ago, Dumond was put down after his condition worsened.

Mrs Graves was awarded £5,150 at Aylesbury County Court on 21 February, with Mr Principe having until 20 March to pay costs.

“I’ve accepted the money has gone,” said Mrs Graves. “But at least I took on his barrister — and won.”

Mrs Graves estimated that she spent around £6,000 on veterinary and farriery care for the horse.

“When I first saw Dumond, Mr Principe said he shortened his stride on concrete, but that he’d been checked out by [respected vet and orthopaedic expert] Sue Dyson.”

Mrs Graves agreed to pay £6,500 for the gelding, but did not have him vetted on the condition that she saw Dr Dyson’s report before purchase. It failed to materialise, but she paid up anyway, taking delivery of the horse in October 2005.

Dumond competed successfully at local dressage, but was lame in three legs by December 2005.

Mrs Graves obtained a copy of Dr Dyson’s report in March. Seen by H&H, it reveals that the gelding had lameness in three limbs, but does not identify the cause.

“Mr Principe refused to give me a refund,” said Mrs Graves.

But the dealer denied any wrongdoing when contacted by H&H.

He said: “The report did not make it clear what caused the lameness and I said I’d swap the horse for another as I did not have the money for a refund.”

This news report was first published in Horse & Hound (24 May, ’07)