5 tips when buying a horse in The Netherlands

Breeding and trading horses is a major industry in The Netherlands and chances are, if you are reading this article, that you are also looking for a new addition to your stable. There are certain elements to consider when buying a horse from The Netherlands and the 5 tips mentioned below aim to provide you with a general overview of Dutch horse practices.

Tip 1: View the potential new horse

Especially if you are an international buyer, viewing a horse with the help of technology can be enticing, however, we advise to view the horse in person. If, for some reason, you are unable to visit yourself, it could be beneficial to send a trusted and experienced person.

The advantages of examining a horse in person include the possibility to gain an insight into the handling of the animal, their behavior in stable, turnout and when ridden. It can be useful to establish a set of questions that could potentially save you a long journey, time, and money. These questions may, additionally, include the reasons for sale, the horse’s experience, temperament, and current workload. When on site, CC14* rider and silver medal winning Olympian Lucinda Fredericks recommends riding the horse, preferably, away from home, to establish the rideability and trainability. She, furthermore, points out that a trot up and lunge on a hard surface can help to ensure overall soundness and that a horse is not particularly one-sided.[1]

Tip 2: Conduct a prepurchase examination and get the veterinarian’s examination report 

The Netherlands has a good standardized prepurchase examination (PPE) which is advisable to conduct when buying a horse in The Netherlands. The introduction of the “certified PPE veterinarian” in The Netherlands is intended to improve the quality of the examination of horses, thus enabling the purchaser to decide properly on the sale of the horse. Beware that a seller may recommend a veterinarian who is involved with the seller and/or a particular horse. This may be solved if the seller agrees that all relevant information on the horse can be divulged by the veterinarian to the purchaser of the horse. More information on the PPE procedure can be found here.

It is vital to instruct the right Dutch veterinarian, specialized in horses, suitably qualified and having experience with the type of horse you are seeking to buy in The Netherlands. A veterinarian’s report will provide some level of guarantee about the horse, since he will be legally liable for the costs of remedying any defects that he has negligently missed. So, make sure the veterinarian has professional indemnity insurance. Any defects or negative issues on the horse discovered by the veterinarian can be used to negotiate a reduction of the purchase price. Preferably you should accompany the veterinarian when the inspection of the horse is carried out and you may wish to make a video of the investigation of the horse. You should insist on a written examination report from the Dutch veterinarian in understandable language, including X-ray pictures of the horse. If you are expected to pay for the veterinarian’s report up front, enquire about what you are going to get by way of report before you commit.

A veterinarian or other expert is often involved in horse transactions for physical examination of the horse and advising either the owner or purchaser of the horse.

Under Dutch law, the veterinarian owes a duty of care – the normal skill and judgment that would be expected of the average or reasonably competent veterinarian. A veterinarian is expected to exercise a reasonable degree of care and skill in their practice. A duty of care is owed to all clients and patients and sometimes to third parties; and if that duty of care is breached – a failure to maintain the standards expected of an average or reasonably competent veterinarian.

If you think you have a claim resulting from veterinary negligence or another negligence from an expert involved in a horse transaction under Dutch law, please contact one of our Dutch equine attorneys.[2]

Tip 3: Organize insurance in advance

Whether you are owning an expensive sports horse or trail-riding horse, a good insurance may give you peace of mind. It is, however, especially common to buy insurance for horses where an injury or death would burden the owner with a great financial loss. Many insurances will offer mortality insurance next to medical and surgical insurance with rates depending on your desires.[3] In the search of the policy best suited, it is helpful to know that the advice provided by a certified PPE veterinarian will be accepted by the insurance companies without further examination.[4] This can aid the process of finding the best insurance for you and your horse. An insurance company might require sight of the vetting certificate before the policy can be agreed upon, thereby, especially when purchasing horses from abroad, it is vital to discuss these matters before finalizing the purchase agreement. Some countries may request a new set of X-rays as old ones may not show new pathology, so it is, additionally, advisable to inform yourself beforehand about the specific country requirements.[5]

Tip 4: You have a duty to investigate when buying a horse

Under Dutch equine law the purchaser of a horse has a duty to investigate the object he’s buying, and the seller is under a duty to inform the purchaser of the horse on all relevant issues of the horse that is subject to a transaction.[6] The obligation of the seller, nevertheless, prevails over the obligation of the purchaser.[7]

Under Dutch law, a purchaser of a horse in The Netherlands is protected in case a defect in the horse is discovered after the purchase within half a year.[8] The defect can relate to any injury the horse may be presenting, but, furthermore, the legal presumption also applies in cases of behavioral or character defects.[9]

In that case, assuming the seller did not mention the defect before purchase of the horse, the seller will have to proof that the horse did not have this defect or illness when the transaction took place.[10] It is a well-known fact that during the veterinarian inspection, not all factors are checked if not specifically asked for, so the seller runs the risk that the horse is afflicted with a defect unknown to him that could dissolve the sales agreement during the first six months.[11]

Tip 5: Arrange transport and check export requirements if you are an international buyer

Especially if a horse is exported from The Netherlands, it is important to handle the legal paperwork properly and seek assistance from a Dutch attorney who is specialized in Dutch equine law.[12] Each country has its own requirements concerning the health and quarantine of horses before they may be transported to the desired location.[13] Whether you are an individual purchasing or selling a horse or a corporate body or syndicate involved in horse-related transactions in The Netherlands, Blenheim Advocaten will be able to represent you.

Horse (and other livestock) exports are subject to many Dutch rules and regulations, as well as international transport rules. These rules are generally difficult to track down.

So, if you require advice on specific export instructions or Dutch – or European regulations, please feel free to contact our Dutch equine lawyers for export advice and legal assistance.[14]

Guidance by equine lawyer with purchase of sport horse

Our attorneys have a specialized practice in Dutch equine law and will be able to provide you with advice on purchasing horses in The Netherlands. Furthermore, we represent riders, owners, breeders, trainers, sponsors, blood stock agents, and farm managers. Our equine lawyers support clients from all over the world in their horse businesses in The Netherlands, assisting them with legal documentation in horse-related transactions and everything else from reviewing basic contracts involving horses to litigating complex cases before the Dutch courts.

Furthermore, we assist our clients with purchase and sale transactions; negotiating and implementing effective horse leases; breeders’ agreements and liens; agency agreements; assisting with the implementation and operation of thoroughbred horse-ownership and contractual matters specific to the equine community, including negotiating and enforcing covenants not to sue and enforcing writs of possession and representing horse-owners and trainers with insurance and employment issues. In a situation where speed is of the essence an injunction may be file with the Dutch Court to obtain injunctive relief at short notice. Our senior partner, equine lawyer Mark van Weeren, is very experienced in this area of law. If you have any questions regarding the topics mentioned, don’t hesitate to contact him or the firm.

[1] ‘5 Things to Consider before Buying a Horse Abroad – Horse & Hound’ <https://www.horseandhound.co.uk/features/5-things-consider-buying-horse-abroad-579531> accessed 18 November 2021.
[2] ‘Buying a Horse in the Netherlands’ (Blenheim – We take care of our clients., 15 February 2017) <https://www.blenheim.nl/blog/buying-a-horse-in-the-netherlands/> accessed 18 November 2021.
[3] ‘Do I Need Equine Insurance? – The Horse Owner’s Resource’ <https://equusmagazine.com/horse-care/eqinsure2166-8266> accessed 18 November 2021.
[4] ‘Buying a Horse in the Netherlands’ (n 2).
[5] ‘5 Things to Consider before Buying a Horse Abroad – Horse & Hound’ (n 1).
[6] ‘Buying a Horse in the Netherlands’ (n 2).
[7] Law & Horse | www europeanhorselawyers com-Netherlands, ‘Buying’ (Law and Horse Lawyers) <http://www.europeanhorselawyers.com/buying/> accessed 18 November 2021.
[8] Article 7:18 (2) Dutch Civil Code
[9] ‘ECLI:NL:GHARL:2019:146, Arnhem-Leeuwarden Court of Appeal, 200.220.702’ <https://uitspraken.rechtspraak.nl/inziendocument?id=ECLI:NL:GHARL:2019:146> accessed 18 November 2021.
[10] ‘Buying a Horse in the Netherlands’ (n 2).
[11] Netherlands (n 7).
[12] ‘Buying a Horse in the Netherlands’ (n 2).
[13] ‘Quarantine and Permits’ (Horse Hotel Holland) <https://www.horsehotelholland.nl/en/quarantine-and-permits/> accessed 18 November 2021.
[14] ‘Buying a Horse in the Netherlands’ (n 2).

Send an e-mail to Mark van Weeren for more information and help with buying horses in the Netherlands and for questions about contracts.