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Bought horse with fraudulent coggins!

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  • Bought horse with fraudulent coggins!

    This summer I purchased a 7 year old TB mare, not tattooed through a sale barn. Her coggins which was from a trainer in Canton Georgia, stated she was born in 2012. This mare did not work out for me and my daughter put her up for sale in Florida. The first person that tried her vetted her out. Vetting was yesterday. Horse vetted great, and she was microchipped it turned out. When potential owner got home the checked the microchip on Equibase and it turns out the mare is 13 years old! I am so upset that someone particularly a trainer would do this. Now, the sale has fallen through and selling a 13 year old horse who has not done too much will be much more difficult. This person was clearly not honest on the coggins. What recourse do I have??

  • #2
    Do you have a bill of sale? Usually for fraud (intentional misrepresentation) in a sale, you can seek damages or possibly even rescission (unwind the transaction to return the horse and get your purchase price refunded). That would probably require a lawyer, since you'll need to prove it was fraudulent. There could be some recourse even if the misrepresentation was negligent (i.e., they gave you an incorrect coggins by mistake). Have you contacted the seller?
    Mr. Sandman
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    • #3
      There is nothing you can do, it was an error. The seller probably said the horse was 7 and thats what the vet used. Every coggins I have had done the vet asks and writes down the number I give him. Just let it go and move on with your life.

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      • #4
        Wait, so the sale barn where you bought the horse passed along the coggins she came with? How do you know that they knew it was wrong? And the GA person didn't have any interaction with you, so I don't see that they defrauded you. Didn't the vet who did your PPE check for a microchip?

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        • #5
          Did you have a PPE done on this horse? That should have confirmed her age before you purchased her.

          However, whats done is done. Unless I ASK the vet to check the age of a horse, they generally ask how old the horse is and write that number down on the coggins. Unless I have registration papers matching the horse, I ALWAYS ask the vet to check age the first time, or during the PPE if one is done before I bring one home.

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          • #6
            Do you have proof that the seller knew the true age of the horse?

            Aging horses without papers or knowledge of that chip is educated guesswork. I had a horse that the vets called eight for the ten or so years I had him. It's hard to accurately determine past the first four years.

            If the seller didn't know about the chip, and didn't have the registered name, then she (or the vet) looked at the teeth and made a guess. That's kind of how it goes, and isn't fraud.

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            • #7
              If the horse is "chipped" I'd argue that each person in the chain of title/sale had the opportunity to ensure that the information they were using was correct. Any incorrect information is a misrepresentation but not necessarily "fraud" in the the moral or ethical sense. Still, you could argue that if you have the information available an don't use it then you become liable to any subsequent person in the chain of title.

              This works for for cars and I see no reason why it would not work for a chipped or branded horse.*

              How much money are we talking about? If substantial dollars then go talk to a lawyer. If not then it's likely going to be a "lesson learned."

              Even if you decide not to pursue the matter legally you can always write a complain letter to the proper people, certified mail, return receipt requested, demanding compensation. You likely won't get any but you just started a paper trail and maybe somebody else can benefit from it later on.

              G.

              *Assuming the brand is specific to the animal and not just to a ranch or breed.
              Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

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              • #8
                Seven to 13 is a HUGE difference, so I have trouble thinking this wasn't done fraudulently, and I would consider trying to take a recourse.

                Have you looked into the mare's history now that you know her real age/name?

                When horse shopping recently, I had more than a few sellers lie about a horse's age and it is crap. We should be able to expect a basic level of honesty, particularly when dealing with a professional. One or two years might be faulty memory, but SIX years? That's huge and I would doubt it wasn't purposefully done to make the horse easier to sell.

                Could SafeSport/USEF be a possible recourse?
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                  This works for for cars and I see no reason why it would not work for a chipped or branded horse.*
                  Everyone knows a car has a VIN and anyone with a pair of eyeballs can look at the number and look it up.

                  Horses being chipped is a pretty new thing and most aren't. You have to know to scan the horse, and have a scanner. If the seller didn't know the horse was chipped, why would she scan it?

                  Brands are hard, too, since it's not like there's a national database of those. If you're in Tennessee, and pick up a horse with no history that happens to have a Colorado brand, how do you know where to look? The Colorado brand book isn't even online.

                  Until every horse out there has a chip, like every car has a VIN, your analogy doesn't hold any water.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by shamrocker58 View Post
                    This summer I purchased a 7 year old TB mare, not tattooed through a sale barn. Her coggins which was from a trainer in Canton Georgia, stated she was born in 2012. This mare did not work out for me and my daughter put her up for sale in Florida. The first person that tried her vetted her out. Vetting was yesterday. Horse vetted great, and she was microchipped it turned out. When potential owner got home the checked the microchip on Equibase and it turns out the mare is 13 years old! I am so upset that someone particularly a trainer would do this. Now, the sale has fallen through and selling a 13 year old horse who has not done too much will be much more difficult. This person was clearly not honest on the coggins. What recourse do I have??
                    You’d contact the Dept of Ag for the state in which the Coggins certificate was issued. There is a big difference between an owner not knowing the correct age of a horse and a certificate being knowingly falsified. FL is very strict on records. There should also be a health certificate for the horse when the horse entered FL. If that is also wrong, you can contact the FL Dept of Ag. If the sale barn is knowingly misrepresenting information on state certificates and the horses are crossing into other states with this documentation, it’s a federal crime.
                    "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Simkie View Post

                      Everyone knows a car has a VIN and anyone with a pair of eyeballs can look at the number and look it up.

                      Horses being chipped is a pretty new thing and most aren't. You have to know to scan the horse, and have a scanner. If the seller didn't know the horse was chipped, why would she scan it?

                      You will note I said, "If the horse is "chipped" I'd argue that each person in the chain of title/sale had the opportunity to ensure that the information they were using was correct." The operative word is "opportunity."

                      Brands are hard, too, since it's not like there's a national database of those. If you're in Tennessee, and pick up a horse with no history that happens to have a Colorado brand, how do you know where to look? The Colorado brand book isn't even online.

                      I have two Marchadors that have the Association brand AND their registration number on their right shoulders. Marchador mares that have been inspected and approved are all marked like this.

                      Until every horse out there has a chip, like every car has a VIN, your analogy doesn't hold any water.
                      No, 'Mam, not so. This story has a chipped horse at the center If read the story correctly. And in at least in the case of my two mares (and a couple of hundred thousand other ones in the U.S., Brazil, Europe, Israel, and few other places) the registered, inspected, and approved mare WILL have the functional equivalent of a VIN Number. So the analogy might be limited but it is completely valid.

                      G.

                      P.S. Let us not forget about TBs with lip tattoos or BLM mustangs with freeze brands. Maybe other breeds to this, too.
                      Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

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                      • #12
                        OT and I haven’t really read through PPs.

                        Just had a vet out to do my horses teeth, and wellness check. Vet said if my 5 year old horse didn’t have papers, with everything matching up, she’s age him in his mid teens.

                        You might have some recourse because of the chip? I can’t answer that.
                        https://www.instagram.com/streamlinesporthorses/

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                        • #13
                          Guilherme and how is anyone supposed to know a chipped horse is chipped without the history? Do YOU scan every single horse you run across just in case??? A VIN is expected and visible. A chip is neither.


                          ​​​​​​I wonder if a tattoo misread is at the heart of this. They are often not particularly legible, and I've seen some really stretches posted as fact on Facebook (OTTB Connect, I'm looking at you :-/) Someone buys an unknown tb mare to flip, posts a smeary tattoo to FB, it gets misidentified. No one ever checks for a chip because so few horses have them.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by CHT View Post
                            Could SafeSport/USEF be a possible recourse?
                            SafeSport's mission statement is to, "....help prevent emotional, physical and sexual abuse and misconduct." Not trying to be argumentative, but this situation doesn't sound like it is a fit with their mission statement.

                            Not sure how USEF could help either. Sales are outside their jurisdiction, even if both parties are USEF members.

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                            • #15
                              While I certainly understand the OP's frustration, as a practical matter I doubt there is much that can be done. It might be hard to prove that the seller knew the horse's true age and deliberately misrepresented it. Perhaps the person the seller got the horse from misrepresented the age to them.

                              A couple of pointers here--a coggins test is NOT proof of age or identity. It is a paper that certifies that a particular animal, as presented to the vet, does not have antibodies to the virus that causes EIA. That's it. A coggins can serve as a CLUE to the identity of an animal insofar as a previous owner or barn might be listed on an old coggins and that person or facility could be contacted for more information, but that's about it.

                              Another pointer--when doing a PPE in this day and age, always scan for a chip. Even when their isn't a chip, pay attention to identity--tattoos, markings, registration papers, etc. Question sellers about a horse's history and breeding.

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                                Guilherme and how is anyone supposed to know a chipped horse is chipped without the history? Do YOU scan every single horse you run across just in case??? A VIN is expected and visible. A chip is neither.


                                ​​​​​​I wonder if a tattoo misread is at the heart of this. They are often not particularly legible, and I've seen some really stretches posted as fact on Facebook (OTTB Connect, I'm looking at you :-/) Someone buys an unknown tb mare to flip, posts a smeary tattoo to FB, it gets misidentified. No one ever checks for a chip because so few horses have them.
                                The original post says the horse is not tattooed, unless that was also taken at the seller's word and the OP never checked. I have occasionally met people who were surprised that their "grade" horse had a tattoo as they never looked at the inside of the lip.

                                Lots of horses out there get separated from their papers (or never have any) and passed from person to person to the point where their age, same as the rest of their identity, is lost or distorted in a game of telephone. Sometimes it just takes one trip through an auction. Aging a horse by teeth and such is not an exact science. I can see this happening and not being an intentional deception.
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                                • #17
                                  furlong47 oh, good catch on the no tattoo. I missed that on my read through. And yeah, totally agree about aging on the teeth and how a horse can lose their identity.

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                                    Horses being chipped is a pretty new thing and most aren't. You have to know to scan the horse, and have a scanner. If the seller didn't know the horse was chipped, why would she scan it?
                                    I think it depends on the circles you travel in. European imports are chipped and can become separated from their papers. Some private owners and some private breeders choose to chip. And of course now that USEF requires chipping, even more horses in the population pool will be chipped. Point being, scanning for a chip is part of the PPE protocol for some equine practices. Just like checking for a tattoo or a brand. The vet may not know if one is there, but he/she will check.

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                                    • #19
                                      I am a big fan of chipping horses, but there is a big problem that no one here is addressing: scanners and chip brands. Until these become standardized and everyone is on the same page, it's all too easy for Scanner A to not read Company B's microchip. Vets aren't going to have every type of scanner made.

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                                      • #20
                                        Omg y'all are you really comparing a horse someone impulsively bought at a sale with no PPE to the logistics and paperwork on importing a high dollar horse?

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