Q: THROUGH a dealer, I purchased a horse from The Netherlands who had what I was told was a five-stage vetting. The dealer assured me the vetting — which was carried out in The Netherlands — was clean and would be accepted by my insurance company. When the horse arrived, it had windgalls, ringbone and a retina abnormality. The horse cost £8,500, but my vet advised me he would always be lame and was not worth £500.

The vetting arrived with the horse. It is not in English but it looks as though the horse passed, including flexion tests.

How was this horse able to pass a five-stage vetting? Do they not have to pass the same criteria as in the UK?
DG, Staffordshire

IT is unfortunate that an independent vet report, in English, wasn’t requested, according to David Ashby of Amlin Plus sports horse insurers.

“No dealer can say whether a vet report will be accepted by an insurer, and no vet report should be accepted that cannot be understood,” he said.

According to David, there are different protocols, not standards, between UK and European examinations.

“A vet in Britain offers an opinion about the horse’s suitability for use; a vetting on the Continent by a European vet will not offer an opinion, but should describe the horse and any clinical signs,” he explained.

“The five-stage vet examination is a British Equestrian Veterinary Association (BEVA) form. Overseas examinations for purchase are different in written form, although many of the tests carried out may be similar.

“Vets abroad have to cope with different legal systems and codes of practice about what they can and cannot do,” David added.

“Amlin Plus accepts foreign vet reports all the time, and they are very reliable. However, one does hear horror stories such as yours, and irrespective of whether the examination was in Britain or on the Continent, it should have been commissioned and paid for by the purchaser. No one should rely on someone else’s vet report when purchasing a horse.”

Barrister Timothy Frith of Casalier Chambers in Surrey added: “Any claim against the vet would be one of negligence.

“Often the buyer of an unsuitable horse will simply wish to return the horse to the vendor and to be refunded the purchase price. The best way to achieve this is to promptly reject the horse as being of unsatisfactory quality, or for being otherwise supplied contrary to any contractual description under the Sale of Goods Act 1979.

“Alternatively, the rescission of the sale agreement can be sought on the basis of misrepresentations made by the vendor or by a dealer acting as agent.”

Information

Amlin Plus Tel: 020 7423 0920 www.amlinplus.co.uk
Casalier Chambers Tel: 01306 632100 www.casalier.com

This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (31 July, ’08)