Legal advice please!

Laura83

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Apr 16, 2008
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I bought my first horse from a dealer (good reputation) 4 weeks ago. He is 15 years old, passed a 5 stage vetting and was delivered 3 weeks ago, I signed a contract 3 weeks ago and have a 30 day warranty on him on which there is a week left.

He has been in quarantine and so unrideable for 2.5 weeks as I could not use the school and it's been too dark to ride in the field. Last Wednesday I had my first ride on him during a private 1/2 hour lesson with the YO. We did mostly walk as I am a nervous rider and a tiny bit of trot (meaning once along the long side of the school on both reins). YO immediately picked up on back pain as his head comes up when there is movement on his back and he throws his head up when you move your weight forward to dismount. Thursday the school was too busy and yesterday I had another 1/2 hr lesson with YO. We did a lot more trotting and she has picked up on lameness but as he is a black horse and it was dark, we were under the floodlights, she had problems putting her finger on it.

Today, in the light of day she is certain he is 3/10ths lame in both hinds, and one fore. He twists his pelvis and she is almost certain it comes from higher up rather than his feet and legs. I have spoken to the duty vet and told them about the warranty and I need to call 9am Monday morning to get them out asap.

If this is not something easily sorted via physio and the chiropracter, YO advises me to take the 30 day warranty and claim my money back. She also thinks that as I've bought from a dealer if he is not fit for purpose regardless of the 30 days I have 3 months to claim my money back, and possibly all expenses so livery costs, vets fees, vetting, rugs, tack etc.

Is she right?

I am absolutely gutted :( He is a sweet sweet boy and does not deserve to live in pain, I am so afraid that sending him back means he will be sold on to live in pain for the rest of his life or that he ends up being sent back and forth between lots of different places. He doesn't deserve anything but comfort and a secure home :( :( :(
 

Clava

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I'm no expert but I don't think that you get 3 months to get your money back if he is not fit for the purpose. This is why we have vettings to ensure as far as possible that your horse is healthy. Suing the vets for missing something this obvious should be possible though. Good luck.
 

puzzles

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I agree.

DWhat did the contract with the dealer state with regards to returning the horse? Surely if there is 1 week's warrenty left, then you are able to take the horse back.
However, in order to take the horse back you would have to prove that it was unfit for the purpose at the time you bought him. If you cannot do this, or the evidence suggests that the horse became lame in your care, then I don't think you would be entitled to take the horse back. Considering that the horse passed a 5-stage vetting before you bought him, I think it unlikely that a court would think the dealer in the wrong, or able to take the horse back, though you could sue the vet if there is evidence that he missed something and the horse was not fit for the purpose at the time. Could you contact a previous owner for information on your horse's health history?
That said, if you do end up taking the dealer to the sall claims court, he may simply take the horse back to avoid ruining his reputation as a business before court begins.

Good luck!

x
 
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wildponies

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Try and return it within the warranty if possible.

Make sure you are noting down all dates and have a copy of the signed contract.

Any communication with the dealer - make in writing.

What is the wording of the contract? Under WHAT circumstances can the horse be returned for a full refund? Is it a full refund or an exchange?

I would go to your local CAB for free legal advice.
 

bevy

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Your YO is thinking of the Sales of Goods Act, see below, but if the horse passed a 5 pt vetting I don't think you can use it. I'd get the vet out to find out what is wrong and see if he/she thinks problem was present at initial vetting, then claim off vetting vet( IF you can get your vet to speak out against another vet)! Good luck.

Subject: Sale of Goods Act, Faulty Goods.

Relevant or Related Legislation: Sale of Goods Act 1979. Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994. The Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002.

Key Facts:

• Wherever goods are bought they must "conform to contract". This means they must be as described, fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality (i.e. not inherently faulty at the time of sale).

• Goods are of satisfactory quality if they reach the standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory, taking into account the price and any description.

• Aspects of quality include fitness for purpose, freedom from minor defects, appearance and finish, durability and safety.
 

eml

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Your first call should be to the vet that did the vetting. If the horse was lame on purchase it would not have passed a five stage vetting so you need to know what observations the vet made about the action.

There are some horses who ridden by more novice/nervous riders can appear lame. We have two in the RS, both need to be ridden correctly forward or they look shoulder lame. Has you RI ridden your horse to feel what is happening. Equally have you put a new saddle/bridle on the horse and do they fit well.

Not suggesting that you shouldn't return the horse just giving you some other things to look at/explore.
 

Laura83

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I'd rather not return him at all if I don't need to, the idea of having to return him is already breaking my heart.

Yes he's been tried in different tack, no my YO has not ridden him as she had a bad fall a few weeks ago off an eventer and nearly broke her neck, she still has not been cleared for riding by the doctor, but he is also lame on the lunge with no tack on.

Can't speak to the vetting vet until after the weekend. I just wanted to know whether I would need to rush to get everything done and decided in this last week or whether the 3 months thing would still apply really.

I am still hoping that he can be 'fixed' and that he can stay with me.
 

cinammontoast

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But you might be setting yourself for a long, expensive haul. Yes, it's heartbreaking sending him back but can you afford vet bills long term? Get the original vet back before you do anything else.
 

Laura83

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Yes you're right :( and I know that if the long term prognosis is that he will not be sound after a lot of heartache not to mention money, or in fact never be sound again full stop then I will have to send him back.

Part of me is hopeful though, if it's a case of a few sessions with the chiro and he'll be right as rain I'll be happy. Got to see what the vet says tomorrow.

By the way, it is a 30 day exchange warranty and it is not detailed in the contract.
 

Soot

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Aug 7, 2007
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I'm really intrigued about the 5 star vetting.
How did they not pick on anything? If they took bloods, it sounds like you might have to check for bute now :(. Not sure I'd want to be on a yard where a new horse can't have turnout during isolation - not great for a teenaged horse in any case.
Im so sorry this has happened to you, Laura. I have a lovely coloured boy for sale atm, but he's still very young and I think you were looking for something older? That said, if the dealer is reputable, as you say, then they will honour their warranty and find you something sound ...
 

Laura83

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No bloods taken unfortunately.

Not sure I'd want to be on a yard where a new horse can't have turnout during isolation - not great for a teenaged horse in any case.
He has had turnout, he was in for the first 48 hours, after that he's been out but because I work full time and was not allowed in the school because of quarantine he has not been ridden until this week, I am allowed to ride in the quarantine field but no lights and at 5.30 it is pitch black.
 

Soot

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No bloods taken unfortunately.



He has had turnout, he was in for the first 48 hours, after that he's been out but because I work full time and was not allowed in the school because of quarantine he has not been ridden until this week, I am allowed to ride in the quarantine field but no lights and at 5.30 it is pitch black.
Sorry, I must have misunderstood your OP. I think I was wanting to read that he'd been stabled so that his lameness might be linked to that (my mare walks like a cowboy after she's been in for a few days on boxrest). Bummer about the bloods too. Fingers crossed the dealer is honest, then!
 

mikh

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If you have any suspicions of pain then you must do the responsible thing and have the vet out pref the one that did the vetting. Explain your concerns.

If then the vet says he is lame, but passed a full 5 stage you will be in a difficult position regarding the dealer - as when on their premises the horse was vetted and passed which implys sound.

then it is possible he became lame in your care (sorry to state this) anything could have happened in the field. The back pain may be down to an incorrect saddle fit or trauma which may link up with the lameness. So I'd advise you to have vet out.
 

NoviceNic

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I think one of the posters are suggesting that if the horse was doped then he wouldnt of shown any lameness issue or pain in the back area.

3 weeks on and the drug will be working the way out of the system thus now showing possible pain and lameness....

What dealer was it?? You can pm me this info if you prefer. ;)
 

alijane

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Oct 18, 2007
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Sorry you are in this position! Was the vet that passed him yours or the dealers vet, and was he an experienced horse vet? I think you will struggle with the dealer after three weeks especially if it was an equine vet that passed him - although it is a shame about the bloods. I think you will find that the dealer will say he has injured himself at yours, which is quite possible if he has had a jolly round his new field and done something as simple as slipped in the mud. If you really like him (at the risk of being lynched by some of the other people here) I would see what your vet tells you in the morning. It may be easily fixable.
 

Chip

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If you chose the vet to do the vetting, then as he passed a 5 stage, you will be unable to return him on health/soundness grounds (unless bloods show medication was used or the vet noted anything regarding possible lameness) If you used the dealers vet, you may have some comeback, but could be in for a battle.
 

Laura83

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I used the dealers vet because there was no other local vet in the Yellow Pages and no replies to the thread I posted here asking for recommendations.

My vet has been out today, she's reported pretty severe bilateral lameness in the right hind, less severe lameness in the left hind and lameness in the right fore. She can find no evidence to suggest acute trauma and with the lameness affecting 3 limbs feels it is more likely to be a long standing problem than something that has occurred in the past 3 weeks and is prepared to put that in a written report for me.

I have tried to contact the vet who did the vetting and have left a message with the reception staff for him to call me back. There is a small chance he may have taken bloods anyway, I think very small though.