Trading Standards officials are investigating a horse dealer, who is at the centre of a string of complaints to animal welfare groups, local authorities and Horse & Hound.
The dealer, who trades using at least two different websites, has been under scrutiny since May. The individual cannot be named during Trading Standards’ ongoing investigations.
North Lincolnshire Council Trading Standards manager Malcolm Osborne told Horse & Hound that numerous complaints and enquiries had been received from “purchasers all round the country regarding problems with the horses sold to them”.
He said: “Allegations being investigated include the descriptions applied to the horses about their age and suitability, problems associated with their health and irregularities connected with passports.
“A decision will be taken on whether legal proceedings will be instituted once all the evidence has been gathered and interviews concluded.”
The International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) first aired warnings of dealers buying horses cheaply abroad, dosing them up with bute if they were arthritic, and advertising them on websites — often without passports or with false documents — in H&H earlier this year
ILPH spokesman Phil Spiby said the trend had emerged over the past year, adding those “most likely to be duped by dodgy dealers” were first-time horse buyers — a demographic on the rise as people move from the city to the country.
“There are guarantees offered should a buyer not be happy with their purchase, but the reality of getting money back is proving very difficult in practice,” said Spiby, stressing that people should never buy a horse unseen or unvetted.
When contacted by H&H last Friday, the dealer said he had not been formally interviewed by Trading Standards officials, whom he said were checking passports and expected the matter to take three to four weeks.
He put buyers’ allegations down to scaremongering by fellow dealers, adding: “The proper place for claims of that nature is a court of law. None are being made in a court of law.”
The dealer also said he had never refused an exchange or refund without a valid reason.
Advice from the ILPH and Trading Standards
- Never consider buying a horse unseen or unvetted
- Always take your own vet for a pre-sale inspection
- Ride a horse before buying
- No matter how much equine knowledge you have, always seek a second opinion
- Buy locally if possible
- Check out the seller/dealer (company search, ask for contacts of previous buyers to seek recommendations)
- Look into the full history of the horse you are interested in making an offer
- Don’t let yourself be rushed into making a decision
- Ensure the horse has a passport (it is illegal for any horse to be sold without one) and cross-reference details to ensure the passport is valid and matches the horse
- Paying by credit card provides additional rights and safeguards
- Ensure the receipt includes any descriptions of warranties
- If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is
- If you are concerned contact Consumer Direct (tel: 0845 404 0506)