BHS Warns of Unscrupulous Dealers

The British Horse Society (BHS) recently issued a warning to British horse owners about the dangers of unscrupulous dealers. BHS reports that dealers have been advertising in equestrian magazines for “companion” horses. Owners sell horses to these people in good faith, thinking that their beloved horse or pony will spend the rest of its days being cared for in pleasant surroundings as a companion to another horse.

However, the BHS has received complaints that dealers posing as private owners seeking a companion horse are reselling the horses, either at sales or for consumption. This is not illegal if the buyer has paid for the horse or has what is in effect a Bill of Sale.

The practice of seeking companion horses is well-established in the horse world. Horses are herd animals and often owners with only one horse will offer a home to an unsound or old horse so that their own horse has company in the field. When a horse is no longer fit to be ridden, whether through lameness or age, an owner who does not have the resources to keep two horses is faced with the dilemma of what to do with a horse which has perhaps served them well for many years. The prospect of someone offering a good home for the horse to end its days in comfort is very appealing, but owners need to be sure that this will be the case.

The BHS recommends extensive inquiries and reference requests to ensure that horses are going to good homes. If a horse is put out on permanent loan—with a proper written agreement—then the person to whom it is loaned may not sell, loan, or put down the horse without the original owner’s agreement. However, if the horse is sold, even if only £20 changes hands, then the new owner is free to dispose of the horse as they please.

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