Equine Law

Buying a Horse

Are you considering buying a horse?

Here are some practical steps before you buy:

  • Be clear about what you expect the horse to do.
  • Be clear about the temperament and physical ability you require.
  • Take someone you trust, who has the appropriate expertise and will be able to see through any sales pitch. This person should be able to assess whether the horse is right for you and appropriate for your riding ability.
  • If you arrive and the horse is being worked (lunged or ridden) then ask yourself why? If it is in its stable but is obviously warm or has sweat marks then again, ask yourself why?
  • Ask about the horse’s background, experience, temperament and its age.
  • Find out why the horse is being sold.
  • If it is being sold by a dealer ask why the horse came to them.
  • If possible ask to see the passport so you can compare the details. Make a note of any previous owners who may be happy to provide further information.
  • Ask about any previous injuries, health issues, medication or treatments, shoeing requirements or issues, vices etc.
  • See the horse being handled in and out of the stable.
  • How does it behave in different environments? e.g. hacking out, at competitions, loading and travelling.
  • How is it to rug up, to load, shoe and clip? It doesn’t do any harm to ask for this to be demonstrated.
  • See the horse being trotted up without any tack to get a feel for how it behaves and how it moves without human intervention.
  • Monitor how the horse behaves and reacts to being tacked up.
  • It is strongly recommended that the owner or their jockey rides the horse before you do. You should see it worked through all its paces. If you are looking to jump the horse this should be demonstrated at a level appropriate to the horse’s age and experience.
  • Always arrange to see the horse a second time and if possible take the horse on trial for a short period of time. Always be clear about the terms of that arrangement before taking the horse.
  • Arrange for your vet or an independent vet (not the owners) to complete a pre-purchase examination or 5 stage vetting. Ensure that the vet understands exactly what type and the regularity of work the horse will be undertaking. This will enable the vet to provide an accurate assessment based on the horses confirmation and health.
  • If you are considering purchasing the horse ask the seller to provide a written description of the horse and all the information that they have given to you verbally e.g. history, temperament.
  • Keep a copy of the advert, any invoices and agreements.
  • Do not pay for the horse or put down a deposit until you are certain you wish to proceed with the purchase. As any deposit, no matter how small, can be legally binding.

If you encounter a problem with a horse after you have settled in at home then you may want to discuss the issues with Michael Bower.

  • Your bombproof hack won’t go beyond the end of the drive.

  • Your perfect showjumper or eventer has an underlying condition that you weren’t told about and means that he is only fit for flat work and hacking out.

  • The seller didn’t classify your horse eating its way through its stable and wind-sucking as a vice.

  • That “first pony” your children were so excited about is losing its appeal as they spend more time on the floor than on its back.

  • You double check the passport and the details don’t match the horse you purchased.

How would you like to talk to us?

Michael Bower & Gadoralda D (Mollie)

Equine Law Team

Michael Bower

Michael Bower


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