Why should you, an Equestrian be aware in the purchase of a horse? You can often be too trusting. For many, the purchase of a horse involves quasi-contractual relationships and a mix of agents, trainers, sellers and other miscellaneous parties. With such a complex mix of interests at stake, many owners spend substantial amounts of money on horses that they only find out later, are not actually registered to them as owners.
In equine transactions, many prospective owners will rely on trainers to act as agents and brokers. Often, these owners are not aware of the numerous clubs, federations, and organizations with which a particular horse can and should be registered. Even worse, many of these transactions are completed with no written documentation.
Any time a horse is purchased and sold, both buyer and seller should enter into a written purchase contract. Such a contract should clearly state the terms of the purchase and clearly identify both the seller and buyer.
Most importantly, get all of the horse’s original registration papers, a bill of sale, and a signed transfer from the seller. You do not own a registered horse until you have the original papers and have actually completed the filing process with the breed registry to officially transfer the horse into your name.
Often, buyers will rely on agents to complete this process for them. Buyers should beware of agents who forego paperwork for a “quicker,” “easier,” or “cheaper” sale. By not entering into a contract with the agent, the agent does not have to disclose their fee. Agents often negotiate their fee into the purchase price so the buyer never has a clue what amount of money is going to the agent versus the actual purchase of the horse without a written agreement.
Try to conduct as much of the buying and selling process via email and letters as possible. While phone calls are the most efficient method to iron out details, a confirming email or letter should be sent containing the exact terms agreed to on the phone. Such a paper trail can be invaluable later on if there is an ownership dispute with the seller, agent, or other third party. Lastly, always write the check out to the actual Seller of the horse.
The Loftin Firm has substantial experience in advising clients on the transactional issues related to buying and selling horses and can assist in resolving ownership disputes that may occur after the sale. Contact Liam Perry at the Firm for additional information and guidance relating to a horse purchase and sale.