Should I Buy a Horse Sight Unseen?

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If you are looking to buy a horse and want to expand your purchase options or follow the recommendation of a friend, you may be wondering if you should buy a horse sight unseen. Although some people do this and are satisfied, others find that there are problems with their purchase. Let’s look at the problems that can arise, and ways to avoid making a dissatisfying purchase.

Problems with Buying a Horse Sight Unseen

Pictures, videos, and hearsay can grossly misrepresent a horse to a buyer. Photos can be altered, videos are just a snapshot in time of the behavior and temperament of a horse, and word of mouth can be a person’s opinion or a miscommunication. Here are some examples of problems with buying a horse sight unseen:

  • The actual horse that arrives may not be the one in the pictures and videos, although it may be similar enough that it’s difficult to tell.
  • The horse may be a different size or height than what was represented.
  • The horse’s temperament may not be what was advertised.
  • The horse may have a health issue that was not disclosed.
  • The horse may be delivered with a problem the seller denies the horse had when it left his premises.
  • The buyer/seller may not have signed a contract for the transaction.

How to Safely Buy a Horse Sight Unseen

Although we don’t recommend you buy a horse sight unseen, there are some ways to reduce the chances of a purchase going wrong.

Sign a Purchase Agreement

Always draft and have both seller and buyer sign a purchase agreement that clearly states the condition of the horse, the horse’s specifications such as height, color, markings, breed, and temperament, how long the seller has owned the horse, price, previous owners, and the like. Make sure the contract states that the seller claims there are no physical or temperamental issues with the horse. A contract can protect both buyer and seller in the event of an issue.

Request the Horse’s Veterinary History

By requesting the horse’s veterinary history you have a record of any issues or if the horse was well cared for while in the seller’s possession. Veterinarians who have worked with the horse can also be interviewed if necessary to verify the condition of the horse.

Know What Questions to Ask When Buying a Horse

Whether you ask questions remotely or have an inspector ask questions for you, you’ll want to know exactly what to ask. Knowing the horse’s specifications, health history, current diet, breed, temperament and the like will help you make a decision as to whether or not to purchase the horse sight unseen.

Hire an Independent Inspector

By hiring an independent inspector, you have the assurance that the horse has been seen and evaluated by a professional not affiliated with the seller. The inspector could be a horse trainer or a highly regarded veterinarian who can evaluate the horse and give you a full report. The inspection can also be videotaped for you to view so you get a more firsthand view of the evaluation. The horse should be tested for drugs and the person evaluating should know what questions you have for the seller.

Ask for References

Knowing whether the seller is reputable may play a part in your satisfaction of a sight unseen purchase. Check to see if there are others who have purchased from this seller and what their experience was. Make sure there aren’t any complaints about the seller on the Better Business Bureau. If you are buying from a private seller, rather than a business, it’s even more important to hire an independent inspector to evaluate the horse.

Need Help with a Horse Purchase Gone Bad?

If you purchased a horse and are having a problem we discussed above or some other problem with the horse, we are here to help. At the Law Offices of Matthew S. Evans, III, our skilled Maryland equine lawyers know how important a horse purchase is and just what can go wrong in the process. We work with purchase agreements, equine insurance claims, equine related injury, and much more. We serve clients in the Annapolis area and look forward to working with you. Call us at 410-626-6009 or contact us for more information.

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