Responsible horse owners do all they can to ensure the ownership of their mounts is clear to everyone. A horse passport, microchip and freeze brand are things that under normal circumstances shows proof that you own your horse. However, over the years even these have not been enough to stop unscrupulous people from literally stealing a horse from under an owner's nose.
The question is how are horses and ponies being taken and then sold on without their owners permission or even knowledge? The answer is that trusting owners all over the country are putting their horses or ponies out on loan, but then finding the people have in fact, sold the animals on and there's not a lot the original owner can do about it.
There are some frightening stories circulating both in the press and on the Internet where owners have quite innocently let their horses or ponies go out on loan without first having set up a loan contract. The results have been disastrous to say the least. If there is no contract in place, even the authorities, namely the police cannot do anything to help you out should you find yourself in the same situation.
Without a contract, unscrupulous supposed “loanees” can claim they were given the horse or pony by the owner and the animal was never given out on loan to them at all. This of course, means the loanee can, in fact, sell the animal without notifying the real owner. To top off an already disastrous situation, the police can rarely do nothing about it at all.
Hundreds of horses and ponies around the country are being sold without their owners prior consent in this way, leaving owners all over the country absolutely devastated and powerless to do anything about the situation. The only way to proceed is to attempt to find out where the new owners have taken the horse and then to take matters through the civil courts. This can take a long time and be extremely frustrating for all concerned – including the new owners who may have bought the horse in good faith not knowing the real situation at all.
The problem is that as an owner, if you have no contract that clearly states you have put your horse out on loan to someone, then it is just your word against theirs as to whether you gave the horse away or not. The authorities cannot prove anything either way without a contract in place – which leaves the rightful owner with a real dilemma.
Although, the police and other authorities recommend that you take your case through the civil courts, this is not always an option for many people because the cost of doing this can be prohibitive, so ultimately there are many people who just cannot afford to go down that route.
If you find yourself in a similar situation or have a friend who is going through a hard time with their horse on loan, there is a group specifically set up to give advice and help everyone in this position. The group is called Missing Horse on Loan and one of the first things they advise people is to be very aware of the dangers of putting their horses out on loan to strangers in the first place.
The website is constantly helping horse owners through the mine field of getting their horses back from unscrupulous people who abuse the fact they have a horse on loan. The problem is that sometimes, even with a loan contract in place, it can be hard to to prove ownership and that a horse out on loan has been sold without prior knowledge or consent of the actual owner. There have been cases when the police did not pursue a case even though an agreement was in place – which is another pitfall to have to cope with.
According to Ali Cann who set up and runs the Missing Horse on Loan website, there's a loophole in the current law which is that it is a civil agreement between two people and therefore if the contract is broken, it is not a criminal matter – hence the police rarely want to get involved.
There is a lot of advice out there, but the most important thing any horse owner should do is seriously think about things before deciding to let their horses go out on loan. According to a spokesperson at World Horse Welfare, people who are considering the option should take their time, making sure they vet the people and the home the horse will be going to. Lastly, they must at all costs have a legally binding contract drawn up by a solicitor before their horse even leaves their premises to go out on loan.
You need to make yourself a check list of things you need to do and things you have to check out before you let your horse go out on loan. Below is a list of the more important things you need on your check list:
Buying a pony or a horse can be a really expensive business which is why so many people look to take them out on loan these days. This is great because often people who own horses want to put their mounts out on loan for one reason or another. The downside is too many people don't realise just how expensive it is to look after a horse or pony which leads to all sorts of problems happening. Without the initial expense of having to buy a horse, it makes it too easy for them to get one too.
Another factor is this relatively new trend has opened the door to some rather unscrupulous behaviour where horses are then sold on without their owners consent or knowledge. This is why it is crucial to have a legally binding contract drawn up before you let your horse leave your property. At the end of the day, the most important thing is the welfare of your horse – you need to know that wherever they go, they will be safe and well cared for.