Buying your horse from a reputable dealer vs a private seller

There are pros and cons to buying your horse from a reputable horse dealer versus a private seller seeking a new home for their horse. Neither option is right nor wrong, it is circumstantial and down to preferences. However, in this blog we’ll outline some of the pros and cons of both choices to help with your decision, whether to buy from a reputable horse dealer or a private seller.

Let’s start with the benefits of buying from a horse dealer.

You can view multiple horses in one viewing with a horse dealer

Buying from a horse dealer, you will get a chance to view more than one horse for sale. There are a couple of benefits to viewing multiple horses at one venue. The most obvious, it is more convenient to view three horses at one yard rather than three horses at different locations. Potentially hours of time saved driving to and from viewings, and depending on who is coming along with you, they may not be able to attend three separate viewings on potentially different days.

Better due diligence buying from a reputable horse dealer

Do you like to do your homework before buying a horse? Like to know who you are buying from? A reputable horse dealer likely has a website and a Facebook page with years’ worth of content and reviews.

Buying from a reputable horse dealer, you will be able to do hours of due diligence to ensure you are buying from a type of person that you feel comfortable with. It is likely that you have a mutual friend who has liked their page – reach out to them and see how much information they know on the horse dealer and their opinion. They may not have too much to share but know someone worth speaking to who does.

Comparatively, buying from a private seller, there is a high chance you do not know the seller. And, as they are a one-off seller, not a horse dealer in the business of buying and selling horses, they have no reviews, no audit history of previous sales, and no previous buyers you can contact to ask for their opinion. Your homework on a private seller is far less detailed, and it is arguably higher risk to purchase from a private seller versus a reputable horse dealer for that reason.

Buying from a horse dealer offers stronger legal protections

If you are an amateur or hobby equestrian, buying from a horse dealer, defined as a trader, means you will be protected by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. A horse must be; as described, fit for purpose, and of satisfactory quality. A failure to meet those criteria entitles buyers to return a horse after purchase and request a full refund within the first 30 days of possession.

Buying from a private seller, the Consumer Rights Act does not apply. The approach adopted is “caveat emptor” also known as buyer beware. It is the buyer’s responsibility to ensure the horse is suitable and fit for purpose. Only if the horse has been falsely advertised or the buyer misled is there protection under the Misrepresentation Act 1967.

Reputable horse dealers can offer an exchange

Sometimes horse and rider combinations after months of trying simply don’t gel. Along with stronger legal protection buying from horse dealers, some horse dealers offer an exchange service where the buyer, instead of worrying about finding the horse a new home, can simply swap for a different horse of equal value.

This is not possible with a private seller. The sale of the horse recently purchased is your responsibility and can be challenging if you are unable to show the horse off to its full potential due to a fall or loss of confidence.

Now onto the benefits of buying a horse from a private seller.

Receive a more detailed history and information on the horse

Assuming the horse is a slightly older horse with a life being ridden and competed before, a horse dealer can only share the potentially limited information relayed by the current owner.

On the other hand, viewing a horse advertised for sale by a private seller should deliver a far more detailed history and information of the horse. Tidbits that are unlikely to be known by a horse dealer, about the horse’s character, life experiences or something else that may seem trivial but crucial to assist with your decision, will be shared by a private seller who has owned the horse for years.

Hearing the information first hand also has the added benefit of the seller using their own words to describe the horse, rather than a professional who will naturally have a different set of vocabulary used to describe a horse for sale. Along with hearing the information first hand, a person’s body language or the way they describe the horse will also help with your decision.

You can watch the horse being ridden by the owner

Especially important for novice riders buying a horse, buying from a private seller directly allows you to watch the horse being ridden by the previous owner, a fellow amateur rider. You can watch what the horse does if the owner makes a mistake; misses a stride when jumping, mounts in an odd way, or something else less likely to occur with a professional riding the horse.

Comparatively, horses that are on sales livery at a horse dealer’s yard are typically ridden by professionals whose job it is to ride and prepare horses for sale. Not a problem, but effective riders can make horse’s look easy to ride whereas it may simply not be true.

See how the horse behaves at the yard they call home

Similar to watching a horse being ridden by a private seller, viewing a horse at the yard where they have lived for months or years will give you a better understanding of how they behave day to day. A viewing at the location where the private seller keeps their horse allows you to see how the horse reacts to having their feet picked out, being tacked up, washed off, and turned out by their current owner, rather than professionals on a dealing yard.

Also, a horse on sales livery that has been taken to a different yard, ridden by new riders, and with a new routine in place, may have some level of “shell shock” and take time to settle in before their true character is revealed.

To wrap up

The choice of buying from a reputable horse dealer or a private seller both have their pros and cons. If you are buying your second, third, or fourth horse, it is likely your own previous experience going down either path shapes your decision, or you may even be unbiased towards the choice.

However, if you are looking for a convenient way of viewing and buying horses, with stronger legal protection and an exchange policy, buying from a horse dealer sounds like the best option. If knowing the full history of the horse you are buying in a detailed way, and seeing how the horse behaves in their original yard and ridden by their owner is more important, buying from a private seller may be the best approach.

Do you prefer buying from a horse dealer or a private seller? Please share in the comments section!