Buying a horse or pony can be a once in a lifetime purchase for many people, these few tips in the will guide to along the way.
1. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT
• Be realistic. Consider your capabilities as a rider or handler as well as the amount of time and money you have to devote to your horse.
• Make sure the horse is fit for purpose. Get him properly vetted by a specialist horse vet recommended by someone who is trustworthy and knowledgeable.
• Bring an experienced horse person with you. Even if you have plenty of experience you will never regret having a second pair of eyes and an impartial opinion.
• Most importantly always consider the cost and long-term commitment.
2. CARRY OUT THOROUGH CHECKS
• Make sure that the vendor is reputable and don’t simply trust comments on their own website or social media channels.
• Share information over established and reputable forums about the horse and vendor.
• Google the vendor, the premises and the horse to see if any are advertised elsewhere and in what context.
• Check out the horse’s history. The current owner is required by law to register their ownership within 28 days, so if they haven’t and there is no reasonable explanation as to why not then walk away. Ask the vendor for details of the horse’s previous owner and call them to verify his age, health history and capabilities at the time he was sold.
• Great price? Ask yourself why. A horse does not come out of training for no reason and sellers do not tend to sell a horse for a bargain price to a complete stranger for no reason.
• If you are buying a horse from the UK or overseas there are a number of factors to bear in mind:
o Biosecurity – be scrupulous about quarantine arrangements and ensure that there is robust evidence that this has been properly managed;
o Transport – ensure you see a detailed journey plan prior to the horse leaving its destination including the horse’s fitness to travel, how far he will travel, how he will make this journey, that suitable rest stops have been arranged with proper biosecurity procedures and that the transport company has a good track record of transporting horses responsibly and making welfare a priority;
o Documentation – there are different legal requirements concerning documentation so make sure you are aware of the current requirements in the country you are buying from and in the country you are bringing the horse to.
3. IDENTITY IS ESSENTIAL
• Never buy unseen. Many unscrupulous dealers deliberately use online market places so they can manipulate information. Pictures or film can be deceptive and the horse in the film or picture may not even be the same horse that you are buying. Anyone selling a horse will display him in his best light but some unscrupulous people may disguise problems. Visit the yard on several occasions at different times of the day. Horses are complex creatures and there are many variables that even the most detailed description, film or photography cannot account for.
• Ask your vet to check his microchip and most importantly to make sure there is only one microchip. It is a legal requirement for all horses born after 1st July 2009 to be microchipped but many horses born before this also carry a microchip. The details of the microchip must match those on the passport. You can verify certain details (such as his country of origin) by entering his microchip number into websites such as http://www.identichip.co.uk A genuine seller should be prepared to share the microchip number with you.
• Study his passport. A reputable vendor will have an up-to-date passport to hand when they are selling any horse, even if they are doing it on behalf of someone else. Check the silhouette, age, microchip number, branding or freeze marking and check for a Loss of Use mark (LOU markings can be very problematic with regards to obtaining insurance on horses), and that the owner’s details are accurate on the passport. You can verify information with the Passport Issuing Organisation.
• The only stamps that can legally appear on a passport are that of the original Passport Issuing Organisation, DEFRA and a veterinary stamp. Any additional stamps should raise serious concerns.
4. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
• Do not part with any cash – including holding deposits, costs for livery or transport – until you have carried out all the detailed checks necessary and are confident in your decision. Ensure that all of the costs are agreed in writing before you part with any money and that they are fair and reasonable.
• Credit agreements are highly suspicious. If you default on a payment many agreements will allow the seller to take the horse immediately, irrespective of how many payments you have already made. Also bear in mind that if the horse dies you will still be liable to continue making payments.
• Beware of return agreements. Whilst under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and the Consumer Contracts Regulation 2014 a buyer has the right to return a horse, getting a full refund can be stressful and cost more than the value of the horse.
• Get a written receipt. Always get a dated receipt when you buy a horse detailing the name and address of the vendor, the intended use of the horse and his passport and microchip numbers, as well as the full amount you paid.
• The Consumer Contracts Regulation 2014 applies to any item (including a horse) bought away from the trader’s premises (such as online or over the telephone) and its aim is to protect consumers. Find out more at: www.gov.uk/online-and-distance-selling-for-businesses/overview.
5. SEEK ADVICE
• Ensure you seek and follow the advice of a reputable, impartial equine vet before you commit to buying a horse
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