A dealer has been prosecuted under the Trade Descriptions Act after a horse he described as a seven-year-old when sold to novice owners was found to be only four.

Flintshire County Council brought the prosecution against Co Durham dealer Philip McAteer, 35, both in a personal capacity and as director of West View Farm Stables, Bishop Auckland, after buyers Donald and Jennifer Nickson of Penymaes, Buckley, Flintshire, complained to Trading Standards.

Mrs Nickson bought the horse, McManus, as a horse suitable for a novice rider.
Flintshire Magistrates Court heard McManus was advertised on a website, Simply Horses. Don and Jennifer Nickson visited West View Farm Stables, and agreed to pay £1,850 for McManus, described in the advert as “seven years old and working well in the school”.

The advert stated: “He is good in traffic, has hunted and competed in hunter trials and show jumping.”

A contract signed by both parties also described McManus as seven years old.

McManus was delivered to the Nicksons’ home, and their daughter Lisa, an experienced rider, tried to ride him.

Damian Gaskell, prosecuting, told the court: “McManus reacted violently and threw Lisa, who broke her arm.”

Magistrates heard that the Nicksons’ vet subsequently found the horse to be “considerably” younger than they believed.

The couple reported the matter to Trading Standards the next day. The court heard the Nicksons had kept McManus, but had reached a civil settlement on a reduced price of £1,250.

Mr McAteer admitted in court to applying a false description of the horse. West View Stables also admitted two similar charges, including one relating to the website advert. Mr McAteer was fined £750, while the stables, a limited company, was fined £5,400.

Mr McAteer told H&H he plans to appeal the fines, adding that he offers a seven-day return and exchange guarantee. “I offered to take the horse back, but they declined,” he said.

Further complaints about Mr McAteer and West View Farm Stables have also been made to Durham Trading Standards, regarding misrepresentation and possible passport offences.

  • Read the story in full in today’s issue of Horse & Hound (15 June, ’06)
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