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Disputes about equestrian issues

I can help you to resolve disputes in equestrian matters, great and small. You can read all about the advantages of mediation over litigation but let me assure you – mediation is all about finding a mutually accepted settlement. It is rare that expert veterinary advice is appropriate, as it would be in litigation. Mediation is not about who is right. It is about finding a mutually acceptable solution so that both participants can leave the final meeting happy that the weight of stress has been lifted for ever.

I have a lifetime of interest in horses. Although never a top-level competitive rider, both personally and as a solicitor, I have come across million of those annoying disputes relating to contractual obligations, land ownership, leases, event management, workplace disputes, warranties on sale and purchase, veterinary services and many more.

I have kept, and ridden horses on and off for many years. I have accumulated a broad knowledge of many things from the quality of hay to cross-country course safety. I shall understand what you are talking about when you explain to me the issues in your dispute.

Despite all that, I do not put myself forward as an equestrian expert, but rather as an experienced solicitor and mediator with an understanding of human nature.

Horses not necessary

Many disputes that occur in what we could call broadly the equestrian world, do not depend for their subject matter on being directly connected to equestrian activities. They may be claims for damages for personal injury, breach of contract, stopping up a right of way, and many others.

Sale and purchase of horse or other equine

One of the most common areas of dispute relating to horses is the breach of terms, promises or representations made by a seller to a buyer. Outside of the racing industry and very high value sport horses, a formal sale and purchase agreement is very rarely used, despite templates being easily available on the Internet.

Whether as buyer or seller, we understand the frustration you feel at the difficult decision on whether or not to instruct your solicitor to issue a claim for £5,000 and be prepared to settle his bill in a few months time for many times that sum, or alternatively, accept the loss as part of the cost of your sport. That frustration can simmer for many years.

If only you had been aware that mediation was available, you may have been able to come to some agreement which left you feeling satisfied, at least that justice had been seen to be done. By now, you may even have been looking to buy or sell again from the same person.

Livery, schooling

The relationship between a yard owner and her clients is constantly fraught. To the client, the equestrian activity is a hobby, recreation and interest. He/she does not want to be bothered by strict rules, safety issues and the yard owner telling him/her what to do. He/she comes to ride or train as an escape from the atmosphere of work.

However, to the yard owner, it is a living. Disputes often flare up. We just want you to know that when that happens, we can help to bring you together and enable you to understand each other’s position, what you both want and how best we can resolve your dispute without going near the County Court.

Training, shows and sport horses

Even an expert will struggle to forecast exactly how successful a young horse will turn out to be. It will take those first few competitions before anyone can know where he can be placed on the map of success. However, that does not protect owners, and trainers too, from excessive optimism. Sometimes mistakes will have been made.

Very quickly, the owner is calculating the value of every possible cost incurred and every opportunity missed on account of errors by the trainer. For his part, the trainer has to go into total denial if he really wants to avoid the somewhat inflated bill that the owner is preparing for him.

One admission and he may be sunk. The trainer is also aware that the owner has the advantage of wealth. He can afford to take the trainer to court, win or lose. The trainer is not in that position.

This scenario is played out constantly. It is a perfect scenario to be resolved through mediation.

Racing and studs

Similar considerations apply in the racing world as outlined above in connection with training. However, the value of the industry is such that the breadth of the scope for disagreement is far broader.

Your lawyer perceives such disagreement simply as another civil claim, whether based on negligence or breach of contract. The fact that the context is the racing industry does not impinge greatly on the way he would conduct litigation.

In any high-value claim, your mediator should want to absorb sufficient knowledge about the industry to be able to listen carefully and speak with wisdom. He needs to feel comfortable around the yard and around horses. However, he will also be able to assimilate the basic law, weigh up the chance of success of each side in court, and understand expert reports whether about laminitis, fertility data, or permitted food additives.

Organisations and societies

There are allegedly around 1,000 organisations in the UK whose purpose is mainly or exclusively to promote some form of equestrianism. Many of these are riding clubs or pony clubs with very limited resources. The number of serious disputes with members of third parties is very low and any organisation run by a committee is inevitably cautious.

Premises and equipment; shows and events; transport

These categories are by no means specific to equestrian activities. To any lawyer, they are simply another day at work. Just as for any business or private dispute, the question of whether or not to go to mediation will arise.

The court system will usually suggest mediation. For an organisation without large financial resources, the choice is far more likely to be between paying what it takes to instruct a mediator on one hand, and on the other hand, simply trying a little harder to negotiate a settlement.

What next?

If you want information, just look around this site. If you want to move forward and talk to me about planning mediation to sort out your dispute, register at:

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