An equine lawyer who has been riding since the age of five has warned of a rising number of disputes as horse sales boom in lockdown.
Ellen Shipton, of regional law firm Ellis Jones Solicitors, said that mis-selling appears to be increasing whether through genuine misunderstandings or deliberate targeting of buyers.
Now she has urged anyone buying, selling or involved in the loan of a horse to ensure agreements are in writing.
Ellen is a solicitor in the Dispute Resolution and Equine Law teams at Ellis Jones, which is a full-service law firm with more than 140 staff and 17 Partners.
She said: “Horse sales have been booming during lockdown with higher prices and a greater number of transactions.
“Sadly, it appears that the number of cases of horses being mis-sold and people being deliberately targeted for mis-selling is increasing.
“Horses aren’t like toasters where you have a warranty and can take them back. I’ve heard of some horror stories where horses have been purchased but certain behavioural characteristics or physical issues weren’t apparent or were covered up during the sale.
“There can also be issues when horses are on loan between two parties, whether that relates to length of agreements, costs and stabling or even actual ownership.
“The best advice in any transaction or agreement of these kinds is to get it in writing. Covering everything off in a legal document will help prevent issues further down the line and protect everyone involved.”
Ellen has a number of riding qualifications and has owned her own thoroughbred for 17 years.
Ellis Jones Solicitors’ Equine Law team specialises in a range of matters, including: buying and selling horses; loan, livery and grazing agreements; professional negligence; and animal welfare.
According to latest figures, in the British Equestrian Trade Association’s National Equestrian Survey 2019, the equestrian sector is worth £4.7bn annually.
Some 27 million people in Great Britain have an interest in the equestrian industry with the number of horse riders rising from 1.3m in 2015 to 1.8m in 2019.
An investigation by Horse and Hound magazine in December 2020 revealed a trend towards increased horse sales and prices during the year.
Ellis Jones Solicitors has offices in Bournemouth, Canford Cliffs (Poole), Ringwood, Swanage and Wimborne as well as London.