What was going on in this case? A client of Schelstraete sold a pony at an auction, she filled in 1.45 m as the height at the withers. The buyer has seen the pony prior to the sale and the buyer’s daughter has ridden the pony: the height was not measured.
Right after the purchase, the buyer informed the client that the pony’s height is not 1.45 m but 1.41 m without shoes; for which the buyer wanted to cancel or annul the purchase agreement: they wanted a pony of 1.45 m, while a pony of 1.41 m would be worth less than that of a 1.45 m pony. This height at the withers – 1.41 m – would have been measured by a registered KNHS official (the Dutch Equestrian Sports Association). The statement of the KNHS official showed that this measurement was taken when the pony’s head was pushed down. According to the KNHS official, if the head was in a natural position, the height at the withers would be 1.425 m without shoes.
On March 2018 (1.5 year prior to the sale), a FEI-vet measured the pony at the age of 3.5 years at 1.43 m.
Which measurement was correct? And was the pony, since it was (somewhat) smaller, not in accordance with the purchase agreement?
The Subdistrict Court does not answer the question whether the measurement is correct or not. The Subdistrict Court has ruled that even if there was a deviation of (maximum) 4 cm, assuming that the measurement from the KNHS official was correct (which Schelstraete disputed on behalf of the client), there is still no non-conformity; because the pony can be ridden by the buyer’s daughter (in the intended category). The pony can still grow (the pony was five years old at the time of the sale) and the buyer has not substantiated that a smaller pony would be worth less than a larger pony.
In case a pony is measured out from a category (for example, a D-pony turns out to be an E-pony, and therefore a horse for international competitions), this may be different under certain circumstances.
In our practice, we are often confronted with disputes about the height of ponies. Measurements turn out – for whatever reason – to be different or incorrect. The FEI already has a set of regulations on the measurements of ponies that an official pony measurement must comply with in order to prevent different outcomes. Since January 1st, 2020, the FEI has made it mandatory to have ponies officially measured and to have a FEI certificate. Perhaps as a result, discussions about the height of ponies will occur less in the future.
The client was assisted by Amanda Brouwers and Irma Uwe-Ntukabumwe.