Buyers and sellers of horses have fresh rules to contend with since the new Consumer Rights Act came into force on 1 October 2015. The act covers all goods from gig tickets to televisions, as well as horses. But with an animal, can the lines ever be clear and fair to both buyer and seller?

Under the ruling, buyers have the right to a 30-day refund for faulty, not as described, or not fit for purpose goods bought from a business — such as dealers.

In the past, the time limit was described as a “reasonable period”. However, the Citizens Advice Bureau has told H&H that this does not extend to private sales.

This means that if you buy privately rather than from a horse-selling business, the updated rights do not apply.

The law also toughens up consumers’ rights with regards to services.

All services — such as livery, riding lessons and horsebox repairs — are covered by the UK act.

Under the new ruling, those who do not apply “reasonable care” as agreed with the consumer, will have to put things right, such as redo the job or give some money back.

‘Simplification’

“Clear rights are good for shoppers and businesses,” said a Citizens Advice Bureau spokesman.

“The new laws should make it easier for people to understand and use their rights, regardless of what goods or services they buy.

“When you are buying something like a horse or riding lessons from a business, you will have these new rights.

“If it’s a private sale, for example you buy a horse or have lessons from someone who doesn’t run a business, you won’t be covered.”

Hanna Campbell, of equestrian legal firm HorseSolicitor, said the new law “provides much needed simplification” and “gives more rights” to owners and riders.

“Hopefully publicity around the changes will raise the profile of statutory rights, which people often don’t even know that they have,”she added.

“Even after 30 days have passed the buyer can still be entitled to a refund — full if under six months, or partial if over six months — but must allow the trader to repair or replace the item first.”

What about sellers?

Patsy Day has been buying and selling horses since 1979 and told H&H that the new guidelines are what she has run her business on “for years”.

She said that difficult situations can still arise for genuine traders as they know their reputation is on the line and fighting cases is costly.

She added that these can often occur when some more novice buyers realise what is involved with riding and managing their own horse.

“With horses, how do you prove that the ‘goods’ themselves are faulty?” she said.

“How you define ‘fit for purpose’ besides being 100% honest is very difficult.

“If you have something mechanical, like a washing machine, it ticks all the boxes — as long as it is not misused, it should function. Horses are not, as we all know, goods. They are unpredictable flight animals.”

Miss Day added that the way a horse is treated, fed, ridden and shod can all have an impact on its behaviour and way of going within a very short space of time.

For information visit: www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Ref: H&H 31 December, 2015