I think I'm pretty close to buying my first horse but am a little confused about the steps. Just using common sense I can see doing this in a simple transaction:
1) Go see horse
2) Place deposit on horse
3) Arrange for PPE
3) At delivery time, receive receipt, papers, and provide rest of payment
But what about when the seller is going to provide the horse to you "on trial"? Do you make full payment at the start of the trial and then get it back if things don't work out, or do you even provide a deposit?
Also, is it customary for the seller to deliver the horse to you free of charge, or at cost -- or is the buyer supposed to arrange for pick up?
And what do a registered horses's papers consist of?
Most of your questions are an "it depends" situation. As for trials, deposit AT LEAST, with the buyer carrying insurance on the horse for the period of trial (documentation to be provided before horse leaves seller). If a seller wants the whole purchase price up front, just be aware there are less than ethical sellers out there who may refuse to take the horse back, and you're stuck with unsuitable horse and out the full price. Reserve the right to pull blood and return the horse if drug tests are positive.
As far as delivery, some sellers may want to deliver the horse so they can see where he/she is going, but IME it is buyer's responsibility to pick up horse. As soon as you sign the bill of sale, the horse is your responsibility, physically, financially, and legally. As for papers, there should be the registration papers from the breed registry (if applicable) and some horses also come with USEF/USDF/USEA registration, passport, etc etc.
Make sure to put ALL the terms of the agreement, including trial time, payment method, transport--anything you can think of--in writing in the bill of sale and/or contract for trial.
One thing that I need to see regarding registration paperwork is a clear record of ownership. I want the person I am buying the horse from to be the owner of record with the registration.
I have heard of too many instances where the buyer had papers in hand, but the owner of record was out of date and there was no way to track down the three or four owners that had possession between the owner of record and the current seller. Maybe the different registries have streamlined the process for these cases, but in years past it was close to impossible to get registration validated on some horses.
I think most registration papers consist of the registered name of the horse, the gender, color and foal date. There is also the unique registration number for that horse, along with the name and registration number for at least the parent horses. The owner of record is listed, as well as the name of the breeder. It has been a long time since I have owned a registered horse other than an Arabian, so I am basing this information on what an Arabian registration looks like.
There should be an area (usually the back) where transfer of ownership is signed over. This must be signed and dated by the seller, who must also be the person listed as the owner, before the registration can be updated with the new owner's name.
You need a step between your #1 and #2: Draw up a detailed contract.
In this contract, you specify the purchase price of the horse, what deposit is being placed, whether it is refundable and under what conditions, by what time the PPE will occur and how soon after that the balance of the purchase price must be paid.
This contract will also describe the horse fully, including any registration numbers, and state what documentation will transfer with the horse (bill of sale is a given, but are there registration papers? current Coggins? Health records). If there is to be a trial period, this will also be detailed.
Be sure to spell out who is responsible for the horse (vet, shoes, loss, etc.) BY DATES AND TIMES through the whole process. Include what will happen if the horse is injured or dies during the trial period. What happens at the end of the trial period? Who is responsible for transporting the horse to the trial and back to the seller if the trial doesn't work out. Will the horse be insured during this period (recommended)? Who buys the insurance? Who is the beneficiary of the policy? Get it all in writing!
Think through all the possibilities, sit down with the seller and draw up a thorough, multi-page contract that suits your particular situation.
LOL, well, buying Lucky it was, "Call trainer, ask about horse, get vet number from FLTAP volunteer, vet jogs and flexes horse, talk to vet, call trainer back, say you'll take him, check's in the mail and shipper will be there on X day. Trainer gives coggins, heath cert and foal papers to hauler, hauler gives them to me, pay hauler, put Lucky in barn."
For me, if I'm the seller there are no trials, but if there were, EVERY LAST THING IN WRITING, everything (shipping, vet, etc) is at buyer's expense except for a vet exam done by MY vet before the horse leaves my property, and buyer purchases an insurance policy for the sale price of the horse with me as the beneficiary, and leaves a nonrefundable deposit of at least 20% of the sales price depending on how high that price is.
Normally, buyer pays or provides shipping, unless otherwise agreed to.
Registration papers depends on the breed. I'm only familiar with JC and AQHA. JC papers have the description of the horse, sire, dam, damsire, date of birth, registration number, breeder's name, state of birth, VERY detailed description of cowlicks and markings. There's a place for race winnings to be entered, and a place to sign transfers of ownership. If the horse wasn't named at at the time he was registered, there's a name certificate stapled in the upper left corner. Lucky's has a stamp from when he was tattooed. AQHA papers usually have name, dam, sire, reg number, and a more detailed pedigree than TBs, IIRC. There may be more, but I've only handled my friends' QHs, never had one of my own, so I don't remember everything on them.