I do dressage clinics at a friend/client`s private yard in Scotland. Recently a girl, who I had not previously taught, came for a lesson. She arrived for help with her horse in a brand new saddle. I watched her warm up and gave some advice to improve her position, but after a short while realised that it was impossible to improve her position in the new saddle as it did not fit her, nor allow her to put her legs in the accepted correct position. ie. a straight vertical line: shoulder-hip-heel.
I asked her Mother, who was watching, what make of saddle it was and where she had got it as it did not seem to me that the saddle was very suitable for her daughter who is 5ft.11ins and of larger build. It turned out they had seen an advert for a dressage saddle especially made for taller riders. They asked their saddler to order it for them to try. It was made by a well known UK saddler in Walsall. Apparently they did not have this particular saddle, but sent another one. I understand the saddler came out to fit it and said it was good for the horse, but presumably without noticing that it did not do the rider any favours. The cost of the saddle was over £2k. I advised them to get in touch with the saddler who sold them the saddle and say that she could not sit correctly in it and therefore should change it for a more suitable model. However, apparently nobody will help with the problem. Their saddler passed it on to the supplier, but the supplier says it is the saddlers fault. What can they do?
Answer from Alison Goodwin:
The client’s contract for the sale of the saddle is with the saddler who sold and fitted the saddle. I assume that they paid the purchase price direct to the saddler rather than the manufacturer, if they did not then I would need to re consider this advice.
The contract for the sale of the saddle is governed by the Sale and Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. This particular contract involves both the sale of the goods themselves (the saddle) as well as the services of the saddle fitter in fitting the saddle.
If the saddle does not fit the rider properly and prevents the rider from achieving a correct riding position particularly for dressage then there is an argument that the saddler has breached the contract and the client is entitled to return the saddle and seek damages.
The Act implies into the contract for the sale and supply of goods various terms including terms that the goods would be of satisfactory quality (which includes the requirement for the goods to be fit for the purpose for which they were sold) and a term that the seller should exercise reasonable skill and care in the provision of the service (i.e. the fitting of the saddle). In this case the claim would be based upon the breach of contract by the saddle fitter in that the saddle is not of reasonable quality as it is not fit for purpose and further the fitter failed to carry out the fitting of the saddle with reasonable skill and care. I would advise that a letter is written confirming the above and including a summary from Trish which concludes the saddle is not fitted correctly for the rider and explaining why. Confirm that they wish to return the saddle and have a full refund or a suitable replacement saddle fitted otherwise they will consider bringing a claim for breach of contract and seek damages for their losses.
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