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Rachel Kosmal McCart is a lifelong horsewoman and the founder of Equine Legal Solutions, PC, an equine law firm based in the Portland, Oregon area. Rachel is a member of the New York, California, Oregon and Washington State bars and is admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon and the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Rachel currently competes in three-day eventing.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Buyers to Beware Of

As you might imagine, being an equine law firm that offers free phone consultations, we speak with many, many unhappy horse purchasers. In fact, "horse purchases gone bad" represent about 70% of the inquiries to our practice.

We have identified a number of characteristics that are more likely to result in unhappy (and possibly litigious) buyers. In our opinion, these factors make a sales transaction risky for the seller. The more factors that are present, the riskier the transaction.

  1. The buyer is a first-time and/or very inexperienced horse owner. Often, first-time horse buyers do not know what they want or need in a horse and when they make an inappropriate choice, they blame the seller. They are also sometimes under the impression that "an honest seller should take the horse back if it doesn't work out" or that there is some type of "cooling-off period" during which they can cancel the sale.
  2. The buyer doesn't inspect the horse in person. While the Internet has greatly expanded the market of potential buyers for horses, it has also presented the opportunity for people to buy horses on a whim, often resulting in buyer's remorse.
  3. The buyer comes out to see the horse in person, but doesn't ride it. When a buyer doesn't do their homework before buying a horse, they rarely recognize it as a failing on their part and instead blame the seller for selling them a horse that is "unsuitable" or even "dangerous."
  4. The buyer refuses the opportunity to have a pre-purchase vet exam. The buyer rarely recognizes not getting a vet check as a penny-wise, pound-foolish choice, and the second that the horse is ill or lame, the buyer claims it was a pre-existing condition that the seller didn't disclose. Note that this can happen even MONTHS after the sale.
  5. The buyer wants to make payments on a horse that is less than $10,000. Often, such buyers do not really have the cash flow to support their purchase and therefore one little unforeseen expense, such as a car repair, can result in late or incomplete payments on the horse. Also, query whether such a buyer can really afford the high cost of horse care and the inevitable surprise emergency vet bill.
  6. The buyer is buying a horse for a child, especially a very young child and/or a child with little or no riding experience. Frequently, in such instances, the parent or grandparent expects the horse or pony to be a little robot, and when it isn't, they blame the seller for selling them a horse that isn't "child safe."
  7. The buyer tries to negotiate the price downward because of personal circumstances like a divorce, family illness, job loss or disability. Much like the buyer in #5, this buyer probably cannot really afford to own a horse (or they are a liar, which also does not bode well for a successful sale).

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