Once upon a time a handshake and verbal agreement were all that was needed between buyer and seller. Nowadays written agreements are the standard in many sales. Horse sales are no exception. Leasing a horse to own is not a simple process and should not be taken lightly. Since the horse will still belong to the seller until that final payment–or other arrangement-is made, the seller needs to make sure the horse will be taken care of to her specifications. The buyer, who is leasing the horse until final payment–or other arrangement is made, needs to understand this.
Five things any Lease-to-Own horse agreement must have are: (1) which horse is being sold, (2) who are the seller and buyer, (3) how much is he being sold for, (4) how will payments be set up and when will they be made, and (5) when does the buyer get the horse and when does the horse transfer ownership.
For the Buyer
As a buyer, things to look for on a lease-to-own agreement are: the name, age, color and sex of the horse, as well as a good description. Obtain copies of all health checkups, vaccinations and records from the veterinarian. Obtain a prepurchase veterinary exam to test for lameness and other health concerns.
For the Seller
Never state that any horse is bomb proof, will never buck or is great for kids and gentle. This is a liability that you don’t want. It is easier to say that the horse has no vices known to you and she has never behaved inappropriately to your knowledge in the time you have owned her. That being said, disclose any vices or bad habits the horse does have.
For Both Buyer and Seller
A number of areas need to be decided by both buyer and seller for the benefit of the horse and to protect both parties. General care of the horse, such as who pays for board, feed, farrier and vet fees, all need to be decided beforehand. If insurance is required until the last payment is made, who is carrying it?
Check the local laws on buying and selling a horse. See if a brand inspection is required and check on what other health requirements are needed. If a horse is moving out of state, check to see if he has had a Coggins test. To protect the interest of both buyer and seller, hire an attorney look over the agreement, as the attorney may suggest points to add that neither party thought of.
Just because the horse is registered with an association does not make that registration certificate a proof of ownership. It is only proof to said association and has no legal binding in most cases. Withholding papers until horse transfers ownership will only impact the ability to show the horse in recognized shows, not affect the actual ownership.