- Thank you to www.HorseConnectionCenter.com for publishing our article! From the Horse Connection Center, Attorney Jenn McCabe of www.CaliforniaHorseLawyer.com writes:
This Office gets lots of calls and emails regarding potential legal claims, but we can only take on those cases that have enough evidence to back up the claims. Unfortunately, most rejections we issue come as a result of inadequate (or entirely non-existent!) contracts. Is it because all horse-people are just trusting by nature? A little crazy, perhaps? No matter the reason, contracts are vital to a successful transaction. In an effort to remedy this on-going problem in the horse industry, I offer these tips for a smooth transaction, regardless of whether you are buying or selling:
- Have the horse examined by an impartial veterinarian. Even the most impressive confirmation can hide defects that may get past a layman’s untrained eye, so a professional opinion is critical. Veterinarians complete years and years of schooling and residencies to learn how to properly identify lameness’s. Unless you went to vet school, hire a vet to perform a pre-purchase examination.
- If your vet recommends X-rays, get them. A pre-purchase examination is the buyer’s opportunity to have an expert “look under the hood,” and is the best way to ensure that you aren’t buying unknown health or soundness problems. If there is something that looks suspicious to the veterinarian and requires additional information, heed his/her advice to look deeper.
- Consider getting the horse’s blood drawn at the time of the exam. Sadly, it is relatively common for horses to be under the influence of painkillers, sedatives, or other drugs that can conceal lameness or enhance performance. Even if it not tested immediately, your vet can store the blood and test it if the horse’s behavior or soundness changes suddenly after your purchase.
- If the horse is registered, get the registration papers at the same time you pay the entire purchase price. In other words, if you are the buyer, do not make final payment without being sure that you’ll receive the registration papers at the same time. If you are the seller, do not hand over the horse’s registration papers without being sure that you’ll receive the final payment at the same time.
- A Note for Buyers: When you receive the registration papers, make sure that the description of the horse is correct, that the seller is listed as the current owner, and the seller has signed the transfer form in the correct place(s). If any of this information is lacking, RED FLAG!
- Get the dang thing in writing! The whole thing – A handshake is inadequate. Without a written agreement with the parties’ signatures, it can be very difficult to prove what the terms of the agreement are. In the event that something goes awry with the horse or the sale, it can boil down to he said versus she said, which never seems to come out quite right, no matter who says!
- Be specific. Your written agreement should clearly state the terms of your purchase, including any representations and warranties that the seller has made about the horse.
- No exceptions. If a buyer or seller refuses to put your agreement in writing, something is not right. Pass!
Please contact our office for more information.
Jennifer A. McCabe