Legal Questions and Answers for the Horse Community

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Rachel Kosmal McCart
Please note that the following information is not intended to be legal advice or to create an attorney client relationship. Before relying on any information, you should contact an attorney licensed to practice in your state. See also BAEN's legal disclaimer. To submit a question for this column, email your question to Please identify yourself as well as any other parties involved so that we can be sure to avoid conflicts in interest in answering your question. We will keep all parties? identities confidential. By submitting your inquiry to this column, you grant permission for your inquiry to be published and for your inquiry to be edited for length, grammar or clarity. Due to space limitations, we cannot publish an answer to every question we receive, but we do try to provide an unpublished answer by email or telephone. View previous Q&A's in the Legal Solutions Archives.

Old Injuries: Must the Seller Disclose?

Q: I recently bought a horse and later found out that right before I did, he had just recovered from a soft tissue tear, and had 10 months off. I wanted a horse with no previous injuries and the old owners didn't tell me about it. It didn't come up on the vet check since we just did a basic pre-purchase and x-rays but no sonogram. Even though he made a complete recovery and should not re-injure it, I would have liked to know. Did the seller have to disclose to us that the horse had been previously injured, if we asked or not? And if he re-injures it soon, can I try to take the horse back, would I have any options?

A: In general, horses are sold "as is" unless the seller defrauded the buyer by (a) deliberately misrepresenting the horse (i.e., "he's sound" when the horse is dead lame) or (b) not answering your questions fully or truthfully (you ask whether the horse has ever been injured, and they say "no" and you find out that the horse has been laid up for the past 10 months). Here, unless you asked the seller directly about previous injuries and the seller didn't respond truthfully, you probably don't have a very good case against the seller. The seller's behavior certainly wasn't forthcoming, but it probably wasn't legally actionable. For more information on a horse seller'slegal duties, see Your Legal Duties as a Seller on the Equine Legal Solutions website .

When buying your next horse, you may want to take advantage of our free downloadable buyer's checklist.

About the Author: Rachel Kosmal McCart, the founder of Equine Legal Solutions, is a lifelong horsewoman and experienced lawyer. Equine Legal Solutions, the Legal Counsel with Horse Sense TM , offers a full range of legal services for the horse community, including dispute resolution, customized contracts and risk management assessment.
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