Protect Yourself when Purchasing a Horse
Because the cost of a lawsuit is so steep, make sure your "horse transaction" is memorialized with a lawyer-prepared, well-written contract.
So you’ve made a big decision. You are purchasing a horse!
Because the cost of a lawsuit is so steep, make sure your "horse transaction" is memorialized with a lawyer-prepared, well-written contract. The small contract prep charge will be a fraction of litigation expenses and heartbreak. If you cannot locate an equine attorney, an attorney specializing in contracts will work just fine. It always amazes me that written contracts are not demanded of every horse purchase or sale. Even on “small” transactions…demand them in writing or do not do the “deal”!
Full disclosure regarding your horse purchase is a necessity. Knowledge and verification of previous ownership, veterinary and show records will prove so helpful should problems occur. Your trusted trainer should readily agree with this requirement and should want to protect you, his valued client. It is your responsibility to make sure you complete your due diligence and have your equine prospect fully vetted.
The Bill of Sale is all-important. It is a legal document showing value, ownership (not the registration papers), and is the only document proving your ownership. Horses purchased overseas are covered by their country's laws, which may not stand up to adjudication in a US court. Ask your lawyer to review the sales agreement.
If breed registration papers exist, demand that you have them and make sure that request is noted in the Sales Agreement and Bill of Sale. Remember, those papers are needed for breeding and "breed-specific" horse shows. They are also proof of age.
Take your time and be thorough in your due diligence. Make sure all your paperwork is in order prior to transferring money and taking ownership.
ValueMyHorse is an equine valuation, consulting and expert witness services company specializing in hunter/jumper, dressage, eventing and breeding. Owner Bridget Brandon is a Senior Certified Equine Appraiser with the American Society of Equine Appraisers and is USPAP certified. She has 30 years in showing and breeding Warmbloods in Hunter/Jumper, Eventing and Dressage.
Bridget has been an appraiser for 12 years and serves as an expert witness and expert advisor on equine related legal disputes. Bridget holds her Property and Casualty insurance license and sells equine related insurance coverage to the equine market. Bridget has been in the DFW area since graduating from Southern Methodist University in 1984.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.