Signing a sales agreement could protect both buyers and sellers of horses, the creators of an online tool believe.
The British Horse Society (BHS) has launched a portal for gold members to create legal documents, allowing buyers and sellers to set out points such as whether a horse has a microchip, its characteristics, and the buyer’s obligations.
BHS membership director Emma Day told H&H having an agreement keeps buyers and sellers safe by ensuring what has been agreed is in writing.
“It’s something everyone should do to ensure their interests are protected,” she said. “Our legal line take calls from members where it’s all gone horribly wrong with the sale of a horse and this can help ensure it doesn’t.”
A spokesman for Epoq Legal, which provides the BHS’s legal helpline and agreements, told H&H the company has had 485 calls since April on equine sale disputes, which would be lower if more people had agreements.“The purchase of a horse is not a small matter. When buying or selling, it’s always good to have a legal document that sets out the terms,” she said.
“It’s normally the characteristics of the horse where we see the most problems — for example, it’s sold as sound, or child-friendly, but it’s not. An agreement means both parties are aware of the terms on which they have contracted.”
The spokesman said agreements are especially useful for private sellers who can input a welfare clause on how the horse should be managed by the new owner, and can prevent disputes if behavioural issues develop later.
“Sometimes someone can own a horse for a couple of months and the way they treat it can mean it develops a characteristic,” she said. “If a buyer comes back later with a dispute, we would argue that we do not know what he has done with the horse. If there is evidence from vets and previous owners this was not an issue before, we would argue this is something the buyer has caused.”
Tina Canton of Tinderbox Sports Horses told H&H she thinks agreements are beneficial
“When selling, I make sure any special requirements of the horse are noted on the receipt and the buyer signs it. For example, if the horse will only hack in company, or needs to live out, this will be included so I have a written record that I have declared these things.
“I am very open about horses — if we have one with quirks, I’ll declare them, and I put my coach’s hat on when matching clients and horses. If it’s not going to work, I won’t sell the horse to them. When I am acting as an agent and people send horses to me to be sold, we have a 20-page contract where they have to declare absolutely everything, and sign it.
“Hopefully agreements can stop sellers not declaring things.”