Hello, I Hope you can help.
We bought a 2nd hand saddle from a registered saddle fitter for my daughters horse, it was the first horse that we have bought having had others on loan & we are quite novices in tack.
The saddle fitter came & fitted the saddle & said it was a good fit for my daughter & the horse.
This was in August 2015. My daughter rode the horse through the summer holidays, but the horse gradually started to ” act up”- wouldn’t stand still, was spinning & dancing when being hacked out- we thought she was just being naughty as she hadn’t had an owner & therefore wasn’t used to being ridden regularly.
We tried her being schooled in the ménage- started bucking & rearing to the point that I felt it was becoming unsafe for my daughter to ride her- she was only 14/15 at the time & although has been riding since she was 7 & is quite a competent rider, she was becoming nervous & I didn’t want her being put off riding altogether
Other people tried riding the horse – even the stable owners niece who has been competing for many years, but to no avail.
The outcome was that we put the horse up for sale in the spring, much to my daughters dismay, & have since bought her a new horse. We tried the saddle on the new horse & the stable manager felt it would most likely fit fine with some adjustment but the new saddle fitter came out & his first words were “you haven’t been using this saddle have you it’s got a bent tree, it will cause the horse a lot of pain” he also told us that it would require a very high heat to bend it- which obviously we haven’t done.
We contacted the original fitter (back in October 16) & she denied any wrong doing & said we must have bent it, it has taken me until now to get her to agree to even come back to inspect it.
Do we have any recompense? I feel that not only has she put the horse through a lot of pain, hence the dancing/spinning/rearing etc as the saddle hurt, but also potentially put my daughter at risk of an accident. A lesser rider could have been seriously injured.
Since we have had this problem I have heard many bad reports re saddle fitter- is there a legal body I can report her to at all?
Answer from Alison:
Thank you for your question.
When you purchased the saddle you had a contract with the saddle fitter regarding the fitting and the purchase of the saddle. I assume that you had the saddler out to fit and sell the saddle to you. If this is the case the contract was for (i) the saddlers professional services of fitting the saddle correctly for you and your particular horse; and (ii) selling you the actual saddle (the goods).
The contract is governed by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (the Act). The Act implies into the contract for the supply of services various terms including a term that the saddle fitter should exercise reasonable skill and care in the provision of the service (i.e. the fitting of the saddle). In this case your claim would be based upon the breach of an implied term in the contract by the saddle fitter in that they failed to carry out the fitting of the saddle to you and your horse with reasonable skill and care. Should you be successful in establishing that the saddle fitter was negligent then you would be able to seek to recover losses and damages from the saddle fitter as a result of her breach of contract and/or negligence. The damages that you could expect to recover would be those that you have incurred as a direct result of the saddle fitters breach of contract. As a general rule damages should try to place you in the position you would have been in had the contract been properly performed so in this case you should recover damages that would put you in the position you would have been in had she properly fitted the saddle for you and your horse. In addition to this aspect of the claim there is a further potential breach of contract claim according to the same Act. Further the saddle fitter has supplied a saddle to you that has an inherent defect. Goods (in this case the saddle) are required by the Act to be of satisfactory quality and free from defects. If the goods sold are found to have a defect then there could be a breach of an implied term in the contract entitling you to damages (you cannot recover losses twice so although you could bring a claim in respect of both breaches of the implied terms you can only recover losses once).
In order to proceed I would advise that you obtain a report from a qualified master saddler on the saddle and its defect. The report should detail the date of their visit, the details of their examination and what they found as well as what they advise needs to be done to remedy the saddle (if possible). I would also gather together the evidence from any physio or veterinary surgeon who investigated any issues with the horses to evidence the issues the saddle caused in the horses detailing the examination they undertook (if any), and what they found, and the most likely causes (in their opinion) of the issues – basically a report confirming that the saddle caused the horse a physical issue. You will also need to put together a schedule of all your losses and attach copies of all receipts and invoices which substantiate your losses.
The issue in this case is the time that has elapsed since purchase. You do not give me dates but it would seem to be a while ago the saddle was purchased. I would raise the issue with the saddle fitter and seek a refund for the saddle explaining your rights under the Act as outlined above and confirm if she does not assist then you will proceed to report her to the Society of Master Saddlers and pursue a civil claim against her for breach of contract pursuant to the Consumer Rights Act 2015. I hope that this is helpful. If you would like some help with preparing a letter to the saddle fitter then I would happily assist. Our charges are based upon the time that we spend in dealing with your matter at an hourly rate of £225 plus VAT.
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