Try before you buy – the importance of getting a horse vetted

By Laura Bright Solicitor

Finding the right horse can be difficult, and when you finally do, it can be ever so tempting to rush into purchasing him/her without carrying out the necessary checks.  It is unlikely you would buy a car without an MOT so why treat purchasing a horse any differently?

In order to protect yourself you should have the horse vetted by your own vet or an independent vet.  Having the horse examined prior to purchase can help to identify existing health problems and potential health risks.  The vet will also consider whether or not the horse is fit for the purpose you intend.

If you do not have the horse vetted and experience problems after purchase, you may find yourself in a difficult position, the extent of which will depend slightly upon whether you bought the horse from a private seller or a business.

Private seller

If you are purchasing the horse from a private seller, the principle of “Caveat Emptor” applies. This is a Latin phrase which translates to “let the buyer beware”.  This means that the buyer is responsible for carrying out all necessary checks to satisfy themselves that the horse is fit for purpose.

If you later discover a problem that transpired to be in existence at the time of purchase, you have no recourse against the seller.  You may have a claim for misrepresentation however if the seller made a false statement which you relied upon when purchasing the horse.


If you are purchasing the horse from a business, you do have slightly more protection. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the seller has a responsibility to ensure the horse is:

  • of satisfactory quality;
  • fit for a particular purpose; and
  • as described.

If the seller is found to be in breach of any of the above, you may be entitled to return the horse and receive a full refund.  The practicalities of this can of course be difficult, the seller may not be contactable or may not be willing to take the horse back.  This is why it is still advisable to have the horse vetted before purchase.

If you are experiencing any difficulties following purchasing your horse or would like more information on this article, please contact Laura on 01228 516666 or click here to send an email direct.

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Client 28th May 2015