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☛ A lesson in horse buying 11-14 -17

A LESSON IN HORSE BUYING

By Rick Dennis
Nov. 14, 2017

by Richard E. Dennis

In 2012, I authored and released a book entitled, “The American Horse Industry, Avoiding The Pitfalls.” The book was written from my professional viewpoint and spanned over my twenty years as a professional trainer, breeder, exhibitor and owner.

Initially, the book was designed to help individuals entering the industry, as first-time buyers or investors, to avoid the inherent risks associated with the horse industry during horse ownership, buying, boarding, training, exhibiting and sales.

However, as soon as the book was released and put in production, I learned my book was also being highly regarded and purchased by individuals already in the horse industry as the model and guide to successful horse ownership and equine business operations. The book has never received less than a 5-Star Rating and has been sold in National and International Markets.

The book is unique in a fashion, as it provides the basic knowledge anyone would desire to avoid the pitfalls in the American Horse Industry. The book is comprised of eleven chapters:

1) Horse Operation – Business or Hobby?
2) Equine Warning Law.
3) Selecting A Horse.
4) Equine Drug Testing.
5) Selecting A Horse Boarding Facility.
6) Selecting A Horse Trainer.
7) Non-profit Horse Organizations.
8) Equipment and Applications.
9) Farrier Service.
10) Health and Care of the Horse.
11) Horse Safety.

As previously stated, initially the book was designed as a primer to newcomers in the industry but over time its reading audience has expanded to also include equestrians with many years in the industry.  For many, it has become the “go-to book” for common-sense knowledge to guide them through to become successful equine business operations and horse  owners. Perhaps the best attribute of the book is teaching individuals the steps to take to avoid the court room in costly civil disputes.

COMMON-SENSE HORSE BUYING:
Of late, there seems to be a lot of civil litigation going on involving horses in one fashion or another as well as for other reasons. In assisting individuals in buying a horse, I urge all of my clients to use basic common-sense approaches in the transaction, especially the “TRUST BUT VERIFY” motto. As a whole, I do believe there are more equestrians with honesty than dishonesty in the industry.  However, the industry has its share of bad actors whose intentions aren’t so honorable. Therein lies the pitfalls outlined in my book and how to avoid them.  It really doesn’t matter what breed of horse or what its intended purpose is supposed to be the following rules of horse buying can be applied to them all:

Rules To Avoid The Pitfalls:

1) If your not quite sure of what your looking for or how to go about acquiring it the best approach is to enlist the aid of an experienced reputable trainer who will act as your agent. The agent will locate several prospective animals for  the buyer to evaluate including having the agent ride the horse first to ensure the horse is of the type, kind and performance capability the buyer desires.

2) The agent will also make sure the horse is safe before the buyer ever steps up on the horse. A rule of thumb, so-to-speak, is for the buyer to spend as much time as he or she can with the horse before plunking down that hard-earned money on a horse purchase.

3) Normally an agent will have a contract to sign beforehand and the buyer should take the time to scrutinize it in its entirety to make sure there are no legal loopholes, including attorney evaluation.

4) Normally, the “seller” will also have a contract for the buyer to sign; however, if the “Sellers” contract has stipulations such as “Sold As Is,” “No Warranty,” or “Non-Returnable,” simply walk away from the horse and find another. Every reputable “seller” should guarantee their product.

5) In the event the buyer wishes to represent his or herself, the cardinal rule is to never purchase a horse “Sight-Unseen” or without riding the horse to all of the horse’s performance capabilities prior to making a final selection.

Pre-purchase Vet Exams:

1) Never purchase a horse without a pre-purchase vet exam, including x-rays.

2) Never use the same veterinarian for the pre-purchase exam as the seller. The buyer always wants an independent medical examination and evaluation separate and apart from the seller’s.

3) Have an attorney-at-law draw up a release between “seller” and “buyer” to disclose “ALL” of the medical records for the horse located anywhere and of any type or kind to evaluate and fully disclose any pre-existing conditions, injuries or treatments the horse may have had prior to the sale. In the event the horse has had multiple owners along the way attempt to contact as many as the buyer can to determine the health of the horse.

4) During the pre-purchase veterinarian examination, have the veterinarian draw urine and blood for a drug-test evaluation to see what’s floating around in the horse’s system. In the pre-purchase contract, it should be stipulated that if any drugs of the tranquilizer or sedative type are found in the horse’ s system, the “seller” is responsible for the veterinarian’s bill and the sale is null and void. For the record, I also have a CBC and a liver-function test performed during the pre-purchase.

5) Have an attorney at law draw up a purchase contract whereby the “seller” guarantees the health of the horse as well as its performance capabilities with a guaranteed warranty of performance and health. If the “seller” won’t sign the contract, walk away and find another horse. Most reputable private-treaty sellers wouldn’t have an issue with this type of business transaction. After all, exercise the old motto, “It’s Just Business”.

6) The buyer should document all advertisements the “seller” may have provided to “buyer” due to the fact that in some circumstances these may be required later to demonstrate an “implied” or “expressed warranty” by “seller” or “seller’s agent” in a civil lawsuit for damages. Further, the buyer should fully document electronic messages between “seller” and “buyer” or “seller” as well as any provided videos which can also be used to determine “warranty status” if the need arises.

7) The main purpose of a pre-purchase vet exam is to determine whether or not the horse has any pre-existing or current medical conditions which would prevent the horse from fulfilling the performance capability the buyer has chosen to engage in. Bear in mind that it’s not uncommon for a horse to have some bumps and bruises acquired during training or exhibition. If the horse is a true performance horse, this is expected and common.  It’s the nature of the beast “so to speak”. However, my rule is to buy a horse with bumps and bruises I can live with and not purchase a horse with the types of bumps and bruises I can’t.

Deceptive Trade Practices Laws:

There are laws on the books governing horse sales to prevent or prosecute those unscrupulous individuals engaged in deceptive trade practices from taking advantage of an unsuspecting buyer during a horse sale:

1) Federal Trade Commission.
2) Uniformed Commercial Code.
3) Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
4) Attorney Generals Office of the state of residence.
5) The local law enforcement agency can file fraud or theft charges.

Each of these agencies are capable of investigating and, where appropriate, instituting or referring criminal charges as well as civil litigation to the offender for violations found during an unscrupulous horse sale as well as recovering assets for the victim from a bad horse sale including court-ordered restitution.

Auctions/Sale Barns:

In all probability there’s a lot of good horses bought and sold in a sale barn. However, this is not my “cup of tea” so to speak. I’d much prefer buying from a reputable breeder or owner when I’m in need of a horse. Unless the sale barn offers demonstrations ahead of time, don’t buy a horse at this location. The prospective buyer is just rolling the dice or gambling on whether or not the horse lives up to the hype in the sale catalog. Also, beware of the sale barn whose contract stipulates a “hold harmless or indemnification clause” which essentially means you are buying the horse from the “seller” and not from the sale barn. Therefore, if you buy a horse, the sale barn isn’t responsible for the condition or performance capability of the horse at the time of sale. This is a risky buy.

Again, “Trust, But Verify”. Remember not all horse sellers are reputable individuals and the sale barn isn’t responsible if the “seller” lies on the disclosure contract with the auction house. Another important fact to remember is that in some states, Texas for example, it’s unlawful for the purchaser to stop payment on a check after a horse sale. In other words, this deals out criminal penalties to the party stopping payment on a check.

So if and when you get your horse home and it has pre-existing abnormalities or conditions that weren’t disclosed ahead of the sale and make the horse unsuitable for your intended purpose and the “seller” won’t warranty the horse, the only remedies the “buyer” may have are:

1) Expensive litigation in court, or
2) Filing a complaint with one of the agencies herein mentioned above.

“Until Next Time, Keep Em Between the Bridle!”

Wind River Company LLC
Richard E. “Rick” Dennis
Managing Member
Office/Mobile: (985) 630-3500
Email: windrivercompany@gmail.com
Web Site: http://www.windrivercompanyllc.com
Stock Horse Web Site: http://www.windriverstockhorses,com

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