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The Seller Misrepresented the Horse You Bought - Now What?

The buyer makes payment and hauls the horse home, but soon after the horse is lame, sick, or dangerous.  The buyer suspects fraud in the sale.  Does he have a case? 

Assessing the Problem

Explore the problem.  Did it pre-exist the sale?  Buyers can consider having a veterinarian or a respected equine professional evaluate the horse.

Legal Theories

Fraud cases can involve several legal theories, such as:

  1. Breach of contract.  The buyer must prove the terms of the sale contract and how the seller breached it.
  2. Fraud.  The buyer must prove that the seller knew or should have known that the horse had problems but hid them or lied when the buyer asked about them.
  3. Breach of implied and/or express warranties.   In some contracts,  sellers “disclaim” warranties or sell the horse “as is.”  These do not always prevent claims of fraud.
  4. Consumer protection laws.  Several states have laws addressing consumer fraud and deceptive sales practices.

What Can the Winning Buyer Collect?

Depending on the facts and law, winning buyers could potentially recover:

  • Rescission.  Generally, if the court orders “rescission” the horse returns to the seller with a refund to the buyer.
  • Refunds. Sellers may be required to refund the difference in value between the horse, as promised, and its real value.
  • Attorney’s Fees.  Your chances of recovering legal fees improve if your contract or state law allows this.
  • Extra MoneySome state consumer protection/deceptive trade practice laws allow winning buyers to recover 2 to 3 times the amount of their losses.

Risks of Selling a Horse With Known Problems

Horse sellers should take the buyers' claims seriously.  Consider the risks of holding your ground.

Avoiding Disputes

Buyers can avoid disputes.  For example, buyers can insist on an independent pre-purchase veterinary exam and drug screen.  A well-worded sales contract can help avoid several types of disputes.

Categories: Sales/Disputes

Photo of Julie I. Fershtman

is considered to be one of the nation's leading attorneys in the field of equine law. A frequent author and speaker on legal issues, she has written over 400 published articles, three books, and has lectured at seminars, conventions, and conferences in 29 states on issues involving law, liability, risk management, and insurance. For more information, please also visit and, and

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Our Equine law blog (and its author) in the news!

Julie Fershtman, author of our popular and prolific Equine Law Blog, was interviewed by the State Bar of Michigan. The interview, which called Fershtman "Lawyer-Blogger," discussed our Equine Law Blog. We truly believe that this blog is the nation's most active blog serving the equine industry on equine law topics, and we thank you for visiting it. Read more here.

Julie Fershtman’s Recent and Upcoming Equine Law Speaking Engagements Include:

National Conference on Equine Law in Louisville, Kentucky on April 29, 2020. Topic will be on Waivers/Releases of Liability Involving Minor Participants. 

U.S. Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) Annual Convention in Denver, Colorado on December 10, 2019. Topic will be on Equine Liability. 

IRMI Emmett J. Vaughan Agribusiness Conference (“AgriCon”) in Sacramento, CA (April 2019), and Richmond, VA (June 2019) and in Des Moines, IA (September 2019), on topics of “Equine Activity Liability Acts” and “Equine Mortality Insurance Disputes.”

National Conference on Equine Law in May 2019 in Lexington, KY, on the topic of “Equine Activity Liability Act Updates” and liabilities involving hosting of equine clinics. 

Agricultural Claims Conference in Kansas City, MO, in March 2019 on topics of “Loose Livestock Liabilities.”

2018 American Bar Association Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL, on “Equine Mortality Coverage and Disputes.”

November 2018, American Horse Council webinar on “Equine Liability.”

Honors & Recognitions

Equine lawyer, Julie Fershtman, has received these prestigious equine industry awards from respected equine organizations:

"Excellence in the Advancement of Animal Law Award" - American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Law Section Animal Law Committee

"Distinguished Service Award" - American Youth Horse Council

"Industry Service Award" - Michigan Equine Partnership

"Catalyst Award"- Michigan Horse Council

"Outstanding Achievement Award" - American Riding Instructors Association 

"Partner in Safety Award" - American Riding Instructors Association 

"Associate Service Award" - United Professional Horseman's Association

"National Partnership in Safety" Award" - Certified Horsemanship Association 

What our Equine Law Services can Provide

Handling breach of contract, fraud/ misrepresentation, commercial code, and other claims involving equine-related transactions including purchases/sales, leases, mare leases/foal transfers, and partnerships.

Litigating disputes in court or through alternative dispute resolution (arbitration, mediation, facilitation).

Defending equine/farm/equestrian industry professionals,  businesses, and associations in personal injury claims and lawsuits.

Drafting and negotiating contracts for boarding, training, sales, waivers/releases, leases, and numerous other equine-related transactions.

Representing and advising insurers on  coverage and policy language as well as litigation;

Advising equine industry clubs and associations regarding management, rules, bylaws, disputes, and regulations.

Representing some of the equine industry's top trainers, competitors, stables, and associations.

Counseling industry professionals, stable managers, and individual horse owners. 


Did you know Julie Fershtman has spoken at the American Horse Council Annual Meeting, Equine Affaire, Midwest Horse Fair, Equitana USA, US Dressage Federation Annual Meeting, North American Riding for the Handicapped (now PATH International) Annual Meeting, American Morgan Horse Association Annual Meeting, American Paint Horse Association Annual Meeting, US Pony Clubs, Inc.'s Annual Meeting, All-American Quarter Horse Congress, American Youth Horse Council Annual Meeting, American Riding Instructors Association Annual Meeting, CHA Annual Meeting, and numerous others? Consider signing her up for your convention. Contact Julie.

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