As an attorney for Equine Legal Solutions, I frequently help unhappy horse buyers decide whether they have a viable legal case against the seller, and if they do, whether I am the right attorney to represent them. Here is what I look for during the initial consultation.
Did the Buyer Try the Horse Before Buying It?
If the buyer tried out the horse before buying it, noticed the behavior problem, and bought the horse anyway, the buyer probably doesn’t have a viable legal claim against the seller. This is true even if the seller offers speculation about the cause of the behavior problem, such as, “I think he bucks because of an old saddle fit issue,” (that is, unless the seller knows exactly why the horse bucks and deliberately lies to the buyer about it).
Does the Horse Actually Have a Behavior Problem?
To have a viable legal case against the seller, the buyer has to be able to show that the horse does in fact have a behavior problem, and that the behavior problem is serious. Serious behavior problems might include bucking, rearing, bolting, biting, kicking and any other habitual behavior that is unreasonably dangerous for the horse’s rider or handler. However, there are many possible explanations for bad horse behavior. For example, even very well-broke, been-there-done-that horses, will often test a new owner to see what the new owner will tolerate. A horse, especially a green horse that hasn’t been very many places, will often be more energetic, spookier and more nervous than it was when the buyer tried it at the seller’s place. If the buyer changes the horse’s diet or exercise, the horse may be more (or le