While DreamHorse cannot give legal advice, we do have some general recommendations for buying and selling horses:
DreamHorse strongly recommends that a Vet-Check or Pre-Purchase Exam should ALWAYS be performed on any horse being considered for purchase by the buyer's Equine Veterinarian of choice.
Always be sure to specifically ask the seller if the horse has any soundness issues, vices, or other problems.
Find out who you are dealing with. Do not hesitate to ask the seller for references such as their personal vet, farrier, other business associates in the horse industry. Use sites like Google.com, Pipl.com and RipoffReport.com to look for complaints by other people about a particular seller, etc.
You should never complete a transaction without first writing down the terms of the deal and have each party sign it. If you can’t afford a lawyer to draft up a contract, you still should write down the terms of the deal in plain English and get it signed. There are legal forms available on the internet from various sites. One such site is Equine Legal Solutions. You can search this site for contract information and purchase a standard equine sales contract for as little as $25. Any buyer or seller who is hesitant or resists using a sale contract is usually a sure sign of a potential problem. We also recommend that both the buyer and seller print a hard copy of the DreamHorse ad for horses bought and sold for a permanent record in the event there are any problems with the transaction.
Equine Legal Solutions has also created a very helpful Horse-Buying Checklist:
Once you have the pre-purchase exam completed and passed, the sales contract and terms have been met, and you are satisfied that you have found your Dream Horse, it is time to think about other issues associated with the purchase. If you are transporting horses across state or international lines, contact the state's or country's veterinarian office to find the current health requirements needed for travel over state lines or from country to country. Some common examples are health certificates, coggins tests and certain vaccinations depending on state. You may also need to contact the state brand board for brand regulations for horses entering or leaving states with brand laws. If you plan to insure the horse, the insurance policy should be in place before the horse leaves the seller's location, this is especially important if you plan to hire a hauling service/company for transport to the horse's new location.
Unfortunately, a horse is a live animal and as such, it may be unpredictable no matter how much training it has received and no matter what kind of guarantee a seller may provide. A horse that is respectful of one person may not be respectful of another person who has different training methods.
Even if you are very careful as a buyer or owner, you may still end up with a problem animal. There is always risk involved with owning horses, whether they do not behave as expected or whether they suddenly go lame or injure themselves or others.