Can I return an ill-fitting saddle?

Where do you stand if the made-to-measure saddle you bought isn't up to the job? Solicitor Rebecca Stojak explains. 

Q: I've recently bought a saddle from a reputable saddle shop. When I went into the shop I gave them my horse's measurements and they recommended a saddle for my horse, which I bought. I've ridden in the saddle for about three weeks and, unfortunately, it fits poorly and rubs my horse. I've also noticed that some of the stitching is coming undone. What can I do? I still have my receipt but the shop has said it's not their problem. 

A: When goods, such as a saddle, are sold in the course of a business (i.e. you didn't buy the saddle from an individual) there are certain things implied into your contract as to the quality of the goods being sold.

The saddle should be safe to use and be reasonably hard wearing.

It should also be suitable for the job it was designed to do, i.e. fit your horse well and enable you to ride your horse without it rubbing ('fit for purpose'). 

It should also have no small faults or problems, such as the stitching coming undone ('free from minor defects/of satisfactory quality'). 

As you've only had the saddle for three weeks, it's unlikely that you'll be seen to have accepted the faulty saddle.

As your complaint is within a reasonable length of time, you can either go into the shop or write to them and explain that you're rejecting the saddle because it's not 'fit for purpose' due to it rubbing your horse.

You should confirm that you gave the shop the measurements for your horse and you're now unable to ride him using the saddle. 

Set out that the saddle is also not 'of satisfactory quality' and 'free from minor defects' because the stitching is already coming undone and ask for your money back. 

You can also potentially claim damages. Damages would be for the cost of repair or replacement of the saddle (if you didn't want to get a refund for some reason).

If the saddle has damaged your horse in some way, you may also be able to claim compensation for the damage caused by the saddle, depending on the facts.