Buying a horse is a significant investment, and as such, it is important to ensure that you receive what you expected at purchase. Many horse owners across Canada who have invested and continue to invest significantly in their horses rarely have written sale or boarding contracts.[1] It is very important to have a written contract regarding your horse and its care since a contract is the first document a judge will look to if a dispute were to arise.

Not only is a contract important, but a contract containing all of the essential elements of the sale, breeding, or boarding arrangement is critical to prevent future misunderstandings. For instance, in a British Columbia case, the seller simply advertised a horse for sale and the buyer bought the horse hoping to breed it.[2] The buyer later found out the horse was a gelding and could not be bred.[3] The court held that it was the buyer’s responsibility to examine the horse before purchase, and since the buyer never clarified the virility of the horse with the seller, the buyer had no legal recourse.[4]

If you want the seller to guarantee something more than the horse as it is, it is crucial to have the traits you expect in writing. In a Saskatchewan case, a horse was purchased and months later developed colic.[5] The buyer claimed that the seller misrepresented the horse as healthy, but since there was no contract, the court held that there was never any implied warranty of good health.[6] Furthermore in a similar New Brunswick case, a racing horse was advertised for sale and the buyer purchased the horse knowing it required muscle injections.[7] After losing its first race, the seller brought the horse to the veterinarian who discovered it had an issue with one of its legs.[8] The court held that since there was no contract that outlined the qualities that the buyer expected, and since the buyer never examined the horse for health issues prior to purchase, there was no misrepresentation on the part of the seller.[9]

The important takeaway from these cases is that it is the buyer’s responsibility to investigate all aspects of the horse before purchase. The buyer must ensure there is a written contract so that they have recourse should they not receive what they were promised. This is also true of boarding and breeding contracts.

The team at Gartner & Associates are experts in equine law related matters. Our lawyers can help you carefully craft a contract that will ensure you receive what you expected from the transaction. Our team can also help you mediate disputes relating to the sale of a horse, boarding arrangements, or a breeding contract. Mediation can be particularly useful in cases where there is no written contract, as going to court can be much more expensive and time-consuming.

At Gartner & Associates, equine-related contracts are only part of the many equine law-related services we offer. Our team also specializes in lobbying work to end horse slaughter and other animal rights work relating to horses, horse racing matters, and negligence claims for neglected horses.[10]

[1] Catherine E Wilson, “Buyer (and Seller) Beware: The Importance of the Sale Contract”, Horse Canada (July 2011), online: Horse Canada  <horse-canada.com/magazine_articles/buyer-and-seller-beware-the-importance-of-the-sale-contract/>.

[2] Witts v British Columbia (Attorney General), [1992] BCJ No 1728, 123 DLR (3d) 555 at para 2.

[3] Ibid at para 4.

[4] Ibid at para 26.

[5] Melnick v Tapp, 2018 SKQB 163 at para 2.

[6] Ibid at para 58.

[7] Oliver v Scott, 2011 NBQB 373 at para 5.

[8] Ibid at para 15.

[9] Ibid at para 19.

[10] Suzana Gartner, “Equine Law and a Shift to Sentientism”, Gartner & Associates (June 2018), online:<www.animallawyers.ca/articles/equine-law-and-a-shift-to-sentientism/>.

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