Trainers' rewards on saddles, tack or other purchases...
just being curious here... We know that many trainers get rewarded for helping reps sell saddles, helmets, feed or other things in their barns... but do you know the details of those deals? Like is there a contract between the trainer and the brand? If so, do they promise not to refer another brand? Do they actually get paid or do they get discount or products in exchange for the referrals?
I understand it is a form of sponsorship, but sometimes I feel like trainers are really pushing a brand (like "no you NEED to ride in this brand of saddles", or "here we all feed such supplement"). It sounds like an advice, but say the trainer gets a couple of hundred dollars for each saddle that gets sold in the barn, I suspect they must be tempted to help the one that gives more money as opposed to the one that offers the best saddles. What do you think? Do you know those programs? I know a trainer in our area is given some sort of vouchers for each saddle sold in the barn. In exchange she had to sign a contract not to ride or show in another saddle brand. I'm not going to name brands here, that's not the point. I'm just wondering if you think those deals are more like little incentives or if they can represent large amounts and maybe sometimes an additional income for the trainer?...
Have a good night guys and be kind to me for my first thread
Last edited by fluffy_pony; Jun. 22, 2012 at 07:11 PM.
They are none of my business and shouldn't be the business of anyone else, outside that of the trainer and the rep as long as it is legal and ethical.
I don't see why this couldn't be discussed. I actually think it's an interesting question. If some trainers have the answers and want to talk about it, then why not? Trainers' commissions are being discussed here all the time when it comes to helping horses sale; I don't see the difference.
If you go on a trip in a foreign country and the tour guide takes you and your group of 40 to a restaurant or a store, do you believe they do it because this is their favorite place? not likely. they do it because they get paid to take you there.
This is how it works and in the end if trainers and riders are happy, there is nothing wrong with it. I don't know of any trainer who would recommend an ill-fitting saddle to make a buck.
Former clients (still friends) rode with a trainer who convinced them to buy all of brand X saddles (they own many horses). And of course they were all the brand that offered a kick back to the trainer.
Now they are with a different trainer, they are having to buy new saddles...ones that actually fit and are suited to the rider.
Likely due to this promotion there is a glut of used brand X saddles in the area; guessing from other riders talked into buying that brand, and then realizing they weren't the best saddle for them.
I do think it is hard for a trainer to be objective when money comes into play, even if they mean to be...and many riders aren't savy enough to know if the saddle is truly right for them and want to be able to trust their trainer's objectivity.
I've never been in a situation like this for horse-related things, but my general take on it is this:
If I am working with someone who recieves commission for certain brands, say saddle x, that's totally fine, if they are upfront about it. If I have saddles x, y, and z to try, I want trainer to let me know that they receive a commission if I buy saddle x, but not saddles y or z. Presumably I am paying this person for their service, and I expect a fair evaluation of all three saddles. I don't care about the dollar amount of the commission, or the details of their arrangement, I just want to know that it exists, because it will affect how I read certain parts of their evaluation. For example, maybe saddle z is all wrong for me/horse, but saddles x and y are pretty close. Horse and I could both ride in saddle x happily and comfortably, so trainer wouldn't be awful for steering us in that direction over saddle y -- it's a win win situation for her. In the end, maybe I will choose saddle x, but I want to know why, if all things are generally equal, trainer is more interested in saddle x.
Ultimately, both the saddle and trainer's expertise are being paid for out of my wallet, so I expect things to be above board. I wouldn't be happy if I bought saddle x after trainer steered me away from saddle y, and only later learned of her commission. Regardless of whether saddle x is a good saddle, it would leave a bad taste in my mouth.
When it comes to big training barns, maybe this is one more thing you expect and buy into for the level of care and expertise you receive. I don't think it's unethical, necessarily, I just don't know that I'd be able to buy into the whole "program" so easily.
The OP was asking for DETAILS of the deals. Knowing they exist is one thing, and I'd be suspicious of any trainer that didn't divulge the relationship up front. However, knowing the dollar amount or percentage -- "details" -- is what is none of anyone's business but the trainer and the vendor.
I'd also be suspicious of anyone who tried to push something on me that wasn't 100% correct for the horse.
FWIW -- the only trainer I have ever worked with that made tack recommendations was also the designer/inventor of the tack he suggested. I trusted him and his recommendations to the letter.
I did not know that such relationships existed until several years after I purchased a French semicustom model on the advice of a trainer. Most people in the barn did ride in such saddles. I was under the impression that the trainer was sponsored by the brand. Didn't realize until later that trainer was probably getting a bit of a kickback. It was a good fit to both the horse and me so knowing that the relationship existed would not have made me not buy the saddle, but I would have preferred knowing about it.
I don't need to know the details, but ethically I think that is something that should be disclosed because it's a conflict of interest.
"I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep."
- Harry Dresden
Commission based sales aren't an issue for me in a typical business known for having them- clothing shops, travel guides (as was mentioned earlier), jewelry, tack shops, etc. It is unusual for a trainer to have a commission from a third party, like a saddle manufacturer, so I'd like to be informed of it. I don't know if my trainer gets anything from a saddle company (doubt it) and she asked for no commission when she arranged the sale of my saddle to another girl in the barn.
I DO know that she gets a discount at an area tack store, and it's increased by some amount if her students buy things there. She's outright said, when I mentioned going shopping at the big chain store, if I also considered shopping at the small tack shop she gets a discount when her students shop there. Unfortunately, the smaller shop hasn't had the items i've wanted but i really would prefer to shop at that place- aside from helping a small business it's nice to help out my trainer as well.
(A decidedly unhorsey) MrB knocks over a feed bucket at the tack shop and mutters, "Oh crap. I failed the stadium jumping phase."
(he does listen!)
As long as all parties are aware of such "arrangements" I have no issues, however, when these deals are made behind closed doors and not disclosed to all parties involved or potentially involved, than I have a problem.
Who is to say that a "trainer" won't take advantage of the situation and not really be working in the best interest of the student or the horse(s)
I as a trainer bought a very nice saddle from a tack shop that was just selling a new brand. I was told that if any of my clients bought that brand saddle I would get 10% of the saddle price in store credit. One of my clients (had many that needed new saddles due to bad fit) bought that brand.
I had let her try my saddle on her horse and it fit very well. Also the tack store owner gave her a great deal on the saddle. I did let her know that if she went with that saddle to let him know that she rode with me because I got a kick back.
I used most of the money to get stuff for the barn. I did get myself some new boots that where on sale but the rest I spent on jump cups and other thing used in the barn.
I love kick backs if they are done right. I was all for putting money in to the farm and if it ment that I could get something new for the farm I am all for it.
Are you going to cowboy up or lie there and BLEED?
Well, considering the cost of our business and how hard it is to make money in horses for the average trainer, I would be first in line if a product I liked and trusted wanted to offer me kickbacks for promoting it. Are you kidding me? I think that's a great idea.
But first, it would have to be a product I LIKED AND TRUSTED. But that's just me.
It's advertising, plain and simple. I'm a pro, I use this product because it works for me. You may like it and should give it a try too. Product is paying me for promoting them on my time. Hell yea, I would do that.
Did I mention it would have to be a product I LIKED AND TRUSTED?
Would I feel the need to make it public that I am getting rewarded fo promoting a product. Sure. I'm fully aware that the athletes that wear brand X on their shirts are getting freebie stuff in exchange for putting their face next to the product. I would be flattered and honored to represent a product I liked and trusted. And I would graciously accept any and every good will jesture from the product for my time and promotion.
I have character and a good moral compass, though, so I would draw the line at pushing brand X on another who would receive little to no benefit from it. Why? Because I've worked in the biz with noooooo help at all so any fair incentives from a good product are better than nothing.
My trainer was approached by a saddle rep to help market their saddles. She told the saddle co she had a small barn, though she knows a lot of people she couldn't make any promises to the company. They took one of her newers saddles as a trade, gave her a new one designed to her specs (which she claims is the nicest saddles she's ever had). Offered her all kinds of other free stuff - split /open front boots, some attire etc. Apparently she would get some kind of kick-back based on # of saddles she sold for them. She was also upfront w/ the saddle rep in telling them about her clientele - some just bought new saddles, some might need a new saddle but this brand would be out of their price range, and there might be a couple of clients or friends who would be interested in this particular saddle.
We did have a tack store that also gave credit/points to trainers whose clients shopped there - they went out of business; the other tack store has a program for trainers to sign up & give them a list of their clients - clients recieve a certain discount; trainers receive a higher discount.
I'm skeptical of ANYONE who pushes a single brand of anything on me. It doesn't have to be a trainer (that actually hasn't ever happened to me) but anyone - saddle fitter, chiropractor, vet, tack store, etc. If there is only ONE brand that is suitable then I am suspicious. It doesn't have to be horse products either.
I do know someone who had a tack store, albeit briefly. She got a free saddle for carrying a line but the catch was that she had to purchase a set amount and then she HAD to sell them. I don't remember what it was, but it was like she bought 11 saddles for the price of 10 (she keeps one, "free" saddle) but then she had to actually sell the 10 saddles that she already paid for. Naturally she had to push those saddles on potential buyers! So the "kickbacks" aren't always as sweet as they seem, and I believe she ended up with two saddles of her own out of that 'deal'.