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  1. #1
    droadapple Guest

    Question Buying a horse with a trainer.

    What is the industry standard for paying a trainer help me buy a new Dressage horse? I have a new trainer that wants 10% plus $15 for every video she looks at, plus $150 for 1-4 hours to look at a horse or $250 for all day. Is this the Industry Standard?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun. 7, 2006


    Quote Originally Posted by droadapple View Post
    What is the industry standard for paying a trainer help me buy a new Dressage horse? I have a new trainer that wants 10% plus $15 for every video she looks at, plus $150 for 1-4 hours to look at a horse or $250 for all day. Is this the Industry Standard?
    10% PLUS all that seems a little steep to me.

    I could see if she wanted the smaller fees up front, which would then come out of the 10% at the end. This would protect her from doing a lot of work and then having you eventually not buy for whatever reason.

    I would certainly try to cap the total fees at 15% of the total cost of the horse.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun. 12, 2007


    There is no standard. I'd say thats definitely on the high side, but not out of the realm of reasonable. I've seen 5%-18% or so. That would usually not include travel expenses (which would have to be paid separately), but it would include watching videos or going to see horses.

    If you don't feel comfortable with it, see if the trainer is willing to negotiate.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun. 12, 2010


    My trainer didn't charge me a red cent. I did give her a gift certificate and gift that were equivalent to 10% the cost of my horse after I bought him to thank her, however.
    MelanieC * Canis soloensis

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan. 16, 2007


    There's no standard, though 10% is "standard" in terms of the most common thing you'll hear. You can make whatever deal you and the trainer agree on.

    The only way I'd agree to the extra expenses in the OP is if they were going to come out of the 10% if a purchase is made. I can understand a trainer being concerned that they'd put a lot of time into searching and evaluating and maybe no purchase would be made, so they want that time paid for up front. But personally it seems excessive on top of the 10%.

    The deal I've made with two different trainers, who were both happy with it, was an initial "consulting fee" which I based, fairly generously, on the price range I was looking in. If I found the horse that I eventually bought, and brought it to the attention of the trainer, then that would be all she got. (I paid any travel expenses of course.) If she located the horse, then she would get the 10%, minus the initial fee.

    Both seemed quite happy with this arrangement, which I suggested. It covered their initial efforts and expertise, no matter how long it took to find a horse, and still meant that they would benefit for their ability to "find" the right a horse through their own contacts.

    Before the internet, a trainer's contacts were really crucial, and in many cases they still are. That's where I think a commission makes sense for the buyer. But these days, it's very easy to do window shopping outside a given trainer's contacts, and I just don't feel like paying a commission on a horse I "found" myself. However, I do want to pay for my trainer's input on that horse.

    So that worked as a compromise for me, on two different occasions.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb. 21, 2009


    When I first read the title I read it as the horse has a trainer and I'm buying both the horse and his own personal trainer The actual topic makes much more sense!

    I think 10% plus is a little steep. I've heard 10% or x amount whatever is higher.
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug. 8, 2007
    North Carolina


    Quote Originally Posted by dghunter View Post
    When I first read the title I read it as the horse has a trainer and I'm buying both the horse and his own personal trainer The actual topic makes much more sense!
    Thats the first thing that popped in my head too, lol.

    I do think that her prices are a little steep. I can understand that she wants to be compensated for her time, so maybe that can come out of the 10%?

    or if you are having trouble paying for the extras, go see the horses first and if you like them, go back for a second look with your trainer. Im assuming you would want to ride the horse more than once before you buy. But that might not be the case.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun. 26, 2004


    I think the prices are too high- when I have bought a horse with my instructor, I paid for their flight/hotel, meals and 10% of purchase price for whatever horse we finally chose- but not for looking at vids, nor individual days looking at horses, they might look at 100 horses with me, but still get only 10% plus expenses for travel.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun. 20, 2000
    Full time in Delhi, NY!


    As a trainer, I'd ask 10% of the purchase price of the horse. However to cover my expenses in case the perfect horse can't be found or plans to purchase change, I could see charging the fees in the OP as we went along. But I would DEFINITELY subtract those fees from the 10% if the sale went through.

    Too many times I've been bit by the 'oh, we've stopped looking' after a lot of my time and effort has been incurred. Once, adding insult to injury, the client showed up a month later with the new horse they'd bought from an ad in the local newspaper without anyone's help at all.
    Last edited by Kryswyn; Mar. 4, 2011 at 12:03 AM. Reason: clarification
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr. 1, 2003
    SE Ky


    I think it depends on the amount the 10% is on. 10% of a $1500 horse isn't much, especially if you ask trainer to watch 15 video's, 20 pictures, drive to 5 farms, etc... you get the picture.

    10% of a $150,000 horse would be about max, but of an inexpensive horse - maybe not enough.

    It also depends how much of a PITA you are . I've known one lady where 100% of purchase price on the animal wouldn't be enough to make me deal with her.

    But at those prices I'd:
    1. Work on developing a good eye to eliminate as many animals as I could ASAP without involving the trainer.
    2. If local test ride the enimal by myself BEFORE involving the trainer. Then if I felt comfortable.

    In a nutshell - eliminate what I'm asking Trainer to do (formally AND informally), track exactly what you ask him/her to do, and pay accordingly.
    Now in Kentucky

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb. 16, 2008


    I paid my trainer a straight hourly rate to cover her time. I would preview all of the horses and do the first ride by myself. If I was interested, I brought her back for the second look.

    The fees your trainer is suggesting seems steep to me.

    I like the straight hourly set up because the trainer does not profit from you buying a more expensive horse.

    My vet charges $25 to look at a video. I would only send a video after the first ride if I was interested in going back. So the $15 per video from your trainer seems steep as well.

    And there is no industry standard. Make your own deal

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar. 24, 2010


    The variation on 10% seems to be pretty standard.

    My horse was purchased from someone who had him in training with my trainer the previous year. He had been sitting around doing nothing for 5-6 months when we first went to look at him. The previous owner paid my trainer 10%. (Technically, she had me write our trainer the check instead of writing it all to her.) On top of that, I paid for my trial rides as if they were lessons, and took two lessons a week during my one month trial. She seemed very pleased with that setup.

    She didn't charge my mom a commission, as her horse was found by an email saying "hey, know anyone looking for a trail horse?" She picked her up, and my mom paid her more than she "owed" for the 4 hour detour my trainer made on her way home from another state to pick her up.

    Someone at the barn recently asked my trainer what she wanted to check out videos with her, and my trainer stopped, confused, and said "No one's ever asked me that." She typically doesn't charge for it, but I think the goodwill that gets her with very loyal clients is probably very worth it!

    The problem with asking a trainer to spend a day shopping with you is that means the trainer can't be training/teaching lessons at that time. I think it's reasonable to do the suggested 10% + fees with time paid for and deducted from the 10%. When I start looking for my next horse that's what I'll most likely do.
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  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar. 12, 2010
    Breinigsville, PA


    My trainer charged 10% OR an hourly / daily charge for going to look at horses with me. Since I did most of the preliminary work myself (finding horses online, getting initial info from calls and emails), she said she would only take whichever amount ended up being less. Since I decided to buy the horse in our barn that I was leasing at the time, she wouldn't take anything. I forced her to take a small amount for the time that she did put into helping.

    The 10% fee would typically include the things she is charging seperately for. In this case, what does the 10% pay for?? However, if she was spending every weekend for months looking at countless horses and you were only spending $5K, then $500 wouldn't come close to covering her time...

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar. 12, 2005


    I'd never take an instructor with me when I'm horse hunting. I love my instructor, she's a superb rider and has fantastic horses but her taste in horses is different from mine.

    The horse I'm buying is for me. It has to tick my boxes. I don't want a horse that ticks my instructor's boxes. So I always go horse hunting on my own. It lets me hear that little voice deep in your gut much easier.

    Ironically I found my instructor's newest horse. I toured the country looking at baby horses and saw a lovely colt who was a year too young for me and a boy (I wanted a filly). A year or so later my instructor decided she wanted to look for a 2yo colt. I said "I know where there is a very nice one", she went to look at him and she decided he was the one when she saw him standing at the other side of the field.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb. 1, 2011


    I think fees vary depending on the price range of the horse..and on the amount of spare time the trainer has to horse shop. Leaving the farm to horse shop often means leaving horse that need schooling and/or lessons of other people.
    I would suggest keeping your trainer informed but really doing all the video watching and first looks on your own. Have the trainer out for your second look. You be the one doing all the initial travelling.

    Youcould also narrow down the 2 or 3 videos that you like and maybe arrange a 30 min time period with trainer to just look at those specific ones.(and pay for that time) Depending on the quality and extent of the video you trainer may be able to rule one or 2 horses out and save you some driving. You should sit with the trainer watching the video and use that time to educate your eye..ask her what she sees (or doesn't see) about the horse movement,personality,confirmation etc on the tape, so you can learn more.

    I am on both sides as far as getting paid to watch video...stacks of poor quality video or poor quality horses may me want to rip my eyelids off.. on the other hand occasionally looking at tapes for one person has helped me find a horse for someone's that whole "box of chocolates" thing.
    $15/video seems high to me..more so when you consider it can be 2 minutes(or less) to dismiss a candidate and move on to the next tape.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec. 31, 2010


    I "pre-checked" all the horses myself that I was interested in (Initial few emails and the 1st visit/ride) then If I was still interested I passed on the photo/video/information with a request of what she thought and if it looked good she went and test rode them (price - her standard lesson fee... 45 bucks). She actually only rode 1 (I bought him) and she looked over about 3 more.
    She said if I wanted her to do the full search, initial questioning etc... (basiclly pull me out to see a few that she screened as suitable) she would charge 5 or 10%, can't remember the exact.
    I would try to negoitiate on her fees. I can understand not wanting to give away her time but come on! I worked with my trainer VERY sporadically for 6 months before I took a hiatus to save to buy and though I didn't pay her a thing other then a few lesson fees to help me buy she's reaping the benefits of me owning (to the tune of a couple grand in training and many, many, many lessons)

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr. 17, 2002
    between the barn and the pond


    What Poody said- many variables- it sounds steep but if we're talking about trying to find a diamond in the rough for under 4k, it has to be steep, b/c you'll kick 80000000 tires along the way.

    Get very very clear in your mind what you want,(meaning breed/age range/sex/training/showing requirements the horse MUST have)and do some of the initial visits alone, and distill it in your mind exactly which 3-4 she/he should evaluate for a fee. I think the issue is that some shoppers want their trainers to look at 40 videos and evaluate what's out there, for free.I am not saying you are this person, not at all, but no one has time to do that, and it's a way to force the prospective buyer to really hammer it out and distill it down...if you charge for your time.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec. 5, 2001


    Weird it's been ages since I bought a horse. But I thought here in Va it was 10% if YOU found the horse and brought your trainer to try it out. But more %% if the trainer found the horse and brought you to try it out.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May. 11, 2008


    10% is a standard finder's fee but the other expenses are squishy. Fifteen dollars for each video she looks at? What does this mean, exactly... that, if she finds a video of a horse that she thinks you should buy, then you have to pay her $15? Or, does that mean that you find the video and ask her to review it? If that's the case, then you "found" the horse and it should not be subject to her 10% finder's fee.

    Traveling to see/try a horse on your behalf is another thing entirely. There are real costs associated with doing this (travel expenses, lost income, time) and should be paid for. If you're happy to pay those costs, fine.

    If you are not comfortable with the fees (and we can assume this is the case because you are posting here), I might ask the trainer to detail what is included in the 10% finder's fee. That will start the conversation about what is in and what is out.

    Frankly, if the budget is 40k or more, I would think twice about nickel and diming my client for video viewing and travel fees.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb. 9, 2005
    Upper Midwest


    What is fair, imo, depends on the price range. I'm not a trainer, but I sure wouldn't want to get only 10% on a $3,500 horse for a client who sends me 10 videos a day to review. I've seen that happen.

    I think the costs, which eventually come out of the 10% if you purchase, sound pretty reasonable. Or just a set fee per horse reviewed. However, that said, I tend to find my horses on my own. I have only paid a comission once. But I'm not opposed to it either.

    Beware the trainer who finds the horse and does all the negotiating and communicating. I have seen trainers buy (or negotiate a purchase price to the seller) the horse for x and turn around and sell it for x + thousands to the client they are supposed to be representing.

    I always want to talk to the seller anyway, but that is just me.
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