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  1. #1
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    Question Buying a horse for a pro?

    I have a question about ammies buying horses for their pros. My trainer made a comment the other day about me buying her a GP horse when I'm rich. Now, I'm pretty sure she was joking, but the idea really stuck in my head! My trainer is truly fantastic and has done so much for me as a rider - she's set me up with amazing situations on incredible horses for very little money. I am so very grateful and once I start making real money (going into a very lucrative field when I graduate in June) I'd love to be able to give something back to her.

    So what I want to know is this: is this a thing? Do well-off ammy riders buy horses for their pros? Obviously at this point this is a very hypothetical question for me - I just want to know what the norm is in the H/J world. Does the ammy just throw down the initial money and the pro then deals with feed/vet/farrier/whatever? Or does the ammy take on all the associated costs including show fees and the pro just gets the ride? What about actually choosing the horse? Would I just give her a budget and say, "Go find your dream horse!" Or is the ammy usually more involved in the selection? Have any of you been involved in a situation like this?



  2. #2
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    It's pretty much you buying the horse for the pro to ride - which makes you the owner -though many top pros own or co-own some of their horses.



  3. #3
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    There are some amateurs who purchase horses primarily to provide their professional with a nice horse to show. Most of the time, these are intended to be business ventures where the horse in question is an investment/sale horse and less frequently, the amateur is more of an owner/sponsor who buys the horse and pays the bills in order to help promote the professional. Who pays what in those circumstances is determined by the contract that should be executed to cover that arrangement. Sometimes the ownership will be split and the ammy fronts the purchase price while the pro contributes their labor and feeds/trains the horse in exchange for part ownership but there are many, many other arrangements out there as well.

    More common these days is the arrangement where the amateur buys a very nice horse for themselves that they allow the professional to show in the bigger divisions, either to help prep the horse for the A/O or just to give the pro something nicer/more competitive to ride than they'd otherwise have.

    Personally, having gone down that road a couple of times, I would NEVER do it again, and there are plenty of other stories where clients have been treated like serious ATM machines in exchange for their kindness and generosity. But to each their own...
    **********
    We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
    -PaulaEdwina


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  4. #4
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    I think you could do and agree on whatever you and she want. However I would be careful with this kind of situation, make sure you have everything in writing!
    ******
    "A good horse and a good rider are only so in mutual trust."
    -H.M.E.


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  5. #5
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    Thanks guys! At this point it's just a pipe dream - wouldn't happen for another 8-10 years probably - but it's fun to think about. Trainer has some great rides on hunters but we just don't have the jumper talent at our barn these days for her to be competitive. I'm not super interested in crossing over to the jumper ring at the moment but I'd love to see her compete in the GPs on a top level horse - especially if I had a hand in it!



  6. #6
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    OP, what IS this lucrative field of which you speak? One kid in college, another about to go, and they need all the advice we can get so Mom can finally get a horse someday, LOL!

    I think that it's awfully nice of you to even be thinking about this. I seriously applaud your generous nature!


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  7. #7
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    If 'ammies' didn't buy horses for pros to ride, there would be a lot fewer pros in the ring.

    Look at any start list for any GPx and you will see riders, horses, and owners listed...there are owner/riders, horses owned by a group of owners in partnership or syndication, riders with single owners whom they ride one or multiple horses for, others with multiple horses/owners.

    Arrangements are pretty much up to those involved; there are all sorts of different ways to set things up, and each relationship between a pro and the owner or owners has its own dynamic.

    There have been some great owners over the years who have been wonderful patrons and supporters of the sport by allowing the best riders to pair up with the best horses and then just stand back and let the riders call the shots. There have been other owners who are equally supportive, but on their own terms, retaining more control. If you look at the winners circle you will see that there is no single way to go about it that is more right than another.


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  8. #8
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    Beware thinking that any field will be both lucrative and stable. I went into finance - a very lucrative field - and turned out it was anything but stable even after 12 years kicking a** at a good firm. I was quite glad I put $ away. Yes, I enjoyed (enjoy) my horses and might consider an investment situation in the future once I'm back in regular work. But I cannot imagine buying a horse for somebody else - unless I won the lottery!

    I don't think many fields out there nowadays are both lucrative and stable. Usually they're one or the other.
    Born under a rock and owned by beasts!



  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ako View Post
    Beware thinking that any field will be both lucrative and stable. I went into finance - a very lucrative field - and turned out it was anything but stable even after 12 years kicking a** at a good firm.
    No kidding! Of course there's no way to say for sure that I would be able to do this - like I said, I'm mostly just daydreaming about it now. I know it's a possibility in my field that I make enough money to consider buying a second, very talented horse (I'm going into a very specialized subset of development that has pretty high job security) but you're of course right, there's no way to predict the future.



  10. #10
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    One suggestion I would make is to retain full ownership of the horse in every way, so if the relationship goes south you can move the horse to a different trainer. This gives you both additional leverage (trainer is less likely to milk you/screw you if you can take the animal away) and safeguards against problems when/if the horse is sold (or you need to sell and trainer doesn't want to, etc.)

    This can be great for both but when these things go bad, they go very bad and you need to keep that in mind. "But my trainer would never do..." are famous last words.


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  11. #11
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    So what I want to know is this: is this a thing? Do well-off ammy riders buy horses for their pros?
    Yup. I have been approached by two pros to "invest" in horses for them. I put it in sarcastic quotes because both those pros were VERY unlikely to ever earn me a RETURN...and the entire situation was sort of like a 6 year old child trying to convince a friend's parent to buy them a pony to play with. In the same way a 6 year old would see it, these two ladies were trying to sell me on the concept that this arrangement was for MY benefit, and they were doing me a great service by presenting me with this opportunity.

    The types of professionals who would be legitimate financial investments are looking for higher-dollar horses than I can afford (I am a young engineer...I do ok, but I am certainly not rich, and there isn't some big jackpot down the road for me, I don't own my own firm and I don't plan to.) I know some people who are part of ownership syndicates for Professionals...but the professionals in question have either been to the Olympics, or are serious contenders for future Olympics...AND the investors are either big fans of the sport (patrons) or else have kids involved in the sport. The competition horse, in that case, is providing professional development for the Trainer/Coach...and the kid will benefit.
    Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior


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  12. #12
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    This can be great for both but when these things go bad, they go very bad and you need to keep that in mind. "But my trainer would never do..." are famous last words.
    And yes. Very.

    Some arrangements that I have seen work well:
    -Silent ownership syndicates. Pro retains FULL control over all horse-related decisions. Return on investment is very clearly laid out, expenses are tracked, there are annual reports.
    -Fixed value investment. Ammy puts up cash for purchase, trainer commits a contracted length of service. Rides, board, etc. Once the trainer has contributed equal dollar value to the horse's original purchase price, all expenses are split down the middle, and both parties are entitled to half whatever the horse sells for. This contract has detailed "out" clauses, both during the period that the trainer is "paying off" the purchase price, and once the split expenses start.

    I have also observed arrangements that were pretty close to criminal, in my opinion...some trainers are unethical to the point that con men would be embarrassed. Here's a tip...honest, ethical people are not opposed to contracts, particularly among friends. Sometimes they might feel that a contract isn't necessary, but they won't OPPOSE having a written contract. They also will not encourage you to keep your arrangement a secret. Secrets are for children and dishonest people. No, your business arrangement should not be broadcast inappropriately either, but you should not be under any kind of pressure to keep any part of the deal a SECRET (ie: to prevent jealousy in other clients or something...huge red flag.)
    Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior


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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by rugbygirl View Post
    I know some people who are part of ownership syndicates for Professionals...but the professionals in question have either been to the Olympics, or are serious contenders for future Olympics...AND the investors are either big fans of the sport (patrons) or else have kids involved in the sport. The competition horse, in that case, is providing professional development for the Trainer/Coach...and the kid will benefit.
    This is more what I'm curious about. I know Olympic-caliber horses are often owned by patron-type ammies (a lot like racehorses, no?) but my trainer is definitely not an Olympic contender (yet ). However, I do think that with the right horse she could really raise her profile in the area. She's young, but she definitely has the talent to do well at Evergreen, Spruce, Thermal, etc. with the right mount. If she put in some good jumper rounds at big shows I'd be willing to bet we as a barn could pull in some great jumper talent (ATM we're mostly hunter/eq riders competing in 3' and under due to riders' financial constraints and some older horses moving down the levels to maintain soundness). Plus I think competing at such a high level would make her a better trainer overall. She's young and still gaining experience, so I think it'd be great to help her along.



  14. #14
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    ^ that is very generous of you to feel that way. Who knows what the future holds, maybe more than one person at your barn is interested in raising the profile and you could look at forming a syndicate.
    Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior


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  15. #15
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    Having loyal backers who ante up and put good horses under good riders can mean he difference between obscurity and making a mark in the sport. If people hadn't gotten together and bought Laura Kraut horses at the beginning of her career, she would still be out in the Midwest. Same goes for Margie Engle, who was pretty much a 'local' FL girl when she started out. Both got where they are because of owners who gave them a chance, and they did the rest.


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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by M. O'Connor View Post
    Having loyal backers who ante up and put good horses under good riders can mean he difference between obscurity and making a mark in the sport. If people hadn't gotten together and bought Laura Kraut horses at the beginning of her career, she would still be out in the Midwest. Same goes for Margie Engle, who was pretty much a 'local' FL girl when she started out. Both got where they are because of owners who gave them a chance, and they did the rest.
    Hey now, don't dis the Midwest. Laura Kraut's old farm is very near where I live - I have a lot of friends that board there now.

    OP- situations I have seen where amateur customers buy a horse for a pro have not ended well. They are kind of a relationship disaster waiting to happen.



  17. #17
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    The showjumping issue of COTH has an article about this. Not all wealthy ammies are sponsoring Olympic riders, one sponsors a junior, Michael Hughes I think.

    USET has a long history of wealthy owners who provided horses to the team. Where would Kathy Kusner be without Mrs. A. C. Randolph and Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Butler supplying her with horses.


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