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  1. #21
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    The Trainer makes the Horse. Yes, there are degrees of talent in each horse, but they can't teach themselves.

    And good trainers are hard to find; AND they are expensive.

    On the track trainers charge a flat fee per day to train. That includes basic board, feed, training, etc. It does NOT include vet fees, farrier fees, racing entry fees, flat jock fees etc.

    Purses are divided thusly: Trainer 10%, Jock 10% for 1-4 places and a flat fee for also rans, Owner 80%.

    This is a standard deal. I'm sure there are exceptions, but that is the "standard." And racing offers much more chance to make $$ than dressage.

    So I would say you should get a piece of any cash awards (actually, unless you have some other deal, you should get 100%) and discuss with your trainer any future "deals" between you two should the horse sell. You can also work a deal where trainer agrees to keep fees at the present "before I was famous" prices as long as YOU agree to keep the horse in training. I think that would be fair.

    But if you think you can get a better deal from another, better trainer, I seriously doubt it. Mostly you will get offers from other trainers who need to "make a name for themselves". The really good trainers have people lining up begging them to show their horses.

    If you are happy with what the trainer has done with the horse and the horse is happy, I would say to let things be and be happy everyone is happy!
    Last edited by Kyzteke; Apr. 22, 2013 at 02:28 PM. Reason: remove snarky comment; there is enough meaness in the World as it is...


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  2. #22
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    This is completely ridiculous.

    Trainer is performing 100% for you and probably exceeding expectations.
    So now you'd like to pay her LESS??!

    When a doctor performs a surgery well and perhaps publishes an article, do you say, "Well, since you published that article I only want to pay 75%" or do you say, "Hey, thanks for doing your job so well. I CAN NOT THANK YOU ENOUGH."?


    8 members found this post helpful.

  3. #23
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    I had this type of situation with my first dressage horse . The horse was naturally very talented but the trainer made the horse. And the horse made the trainer's reputation and business.

    We went along for a while trying to include me as a rider but frankly they were advancing so quickly as a pair I couldn't really keep up. Then I got pregnant with my first child and had a very complicated pregnancy. I made a deal with the trainer that the horse would be the trainer's to ride and show. I paid board, vet and shoeing. Trainer covered everything else, training included. The term we agreed to was for 2 years. At the end of that period, we would sell the horse and trainer was to receive 25% of sale price. It worked out pretty well for 2 years.

    At the end of that time, trainer wasn't particularly motivated to sell the horse. I hadn't ridden for about a year and had huge medical bills from having a baby in NICU for 5 months. Even though it was hard, I really needed to sell the horse. I offered to sell the horse to the trainer on very favorable terms, but the trainer wouldn't make a decision and the situation dragged on for about another year. Finally I moved the horse to an BNT's barn and sold him. BNT got the commission and I gave the original trainer a bonus.


    Situations with horses and riders change in the horse world. There are no guarantees. Look at Edward Gal and Totilas. But you can make this kind of thing work with a good written agreement. If the trainer is receiving compensation (sponsorship) that they wouldn't be receiving without your horse, I'd say you are entitled to share in it.

    This situation has to work for both parties and both parties have to commit. It should also have a definite timeframe, IMO. Things can be renewed, renegotiated or terminated at that point.
    Last edited by nhwr; Apr. 22, 2013 at 01:37 PM.
    See those flying monkeys? They work for me.


    6 members found this post helpful.

  4. #24
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    Considering the amount of money you are spending, I would suggest that a meeting with a lawyer who does equine law might be useful.

    You've got the 'talent' and they should know what contract clauses may or may not be usual or useful in your situation. For a relatively low cost you can discuss what you are hoping for, whether that can be done/is done and have some specifics to discuss with your trainer if you wish to go down that line.

    Just a thought.


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  5. #25
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    Competing in CDI's is crazy expensive. And exactly how does competing in a CDI benefit you as a horse owner that is not interested in selling vs benefits the career/ reputation of your trainer? I think you would not be out of line to discuss spliting the expenses for competing in CDIs.


    8 members found this post helpful.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by dudleyc View Post
    Competing in CDI's is crazy expensive. And exactly how does competing in a CDI benefit you as a horse owner that is not interested in selling vs benefits the career/ reputation of your trainer? I think you would not be out of line to discuss spliting the expenses for competing in CDIs.
    Yes- if you are footing all the bills, then all of the decisions are yours to make, including whether the horse shows at all, where, how often, CDI or not, etc. It's perfectly fine to say I'm not concerned about resale value, and I only have to money/intend to pay for these 3 shows this year. I'm open to discussing other shows if you'd like to take him, but can't cover the expenses for those.


    4 members found this post helpful.

  7. #27
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    Thank you for all of the thoughtful replies. For one thing, I don't think asking for opinions on this subject is "ridiculous" in the least, but of course you have a right to your opinion, meupatdoes.

    To clarify, having the horse competed in CDIs was never really my personal goal. I knew the horse had a natural ability, but this trainer has really made him into a force to be reckoned with. While I am not new to the dressage world, I was not very familiar with the "ladder" a talented horse and rider might climb from a competitive standpoint. The trainer is very excited about climbing the ladder, and I'm having a hard time addressing the financial aspect of climbing it, with her. As many of you have said, CDIs are very expensive, and although I do enjoy seeing him compete with her, reality must set in at some point.

    Thank you to those of you who recommended a contract of some sort. And Unforgettable, I completely agree that it's reasonable that any kickbacks should guarantee the trainer that they continue to get the ride. I think that's definitely fair of the trainer to want.

    nhwr, thanks for sharing your story. The trainer has been approached numerous times by people wanting to buy the horse, and she is more than happy to say he is not for sale. In fact, she told me she almost didn't want to say anything to me about the potential buyers, for fear I'd reconsider and sell him.

    Splitting the costs of the CDIs is also a great idea....thanks for the suggestion.

    kyzteke, yes, currently I am getting all cash awards they have won, as the awards get paid out to the owner. I agree with you that the other trainers wouldn't necessarily be giving me a "better deal", since half the battle is finding a trainer that works well with your horse.

    Thanks again to those of you who took the time to respond. My SO is only trying to make sure that we are getting a fair deal. He is a business man first...and not so much a horse person.

    Also, more than anything, both of us would hate to see this horse's success be limited by finances...so we're trying to figure out a way that the horse can achieve everything he is capable of.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by halteralter View Post
    Thanks again to those of you who took the time to respond. My SO is only trying to make sure that we are getting a fair deal. He is a business man first...and not so much a horse person.
    LoL. He is not the only one to not understand completely the 'horse' business!!! It is frustrating because you can never be sure of anything with horses. It is a crazy business.

    so we're trying to figure out a way that the horse can achieve everything he is capable of.
    That is the way to go. Within your budget, the rider budget and all of your goals, I'm sure you'll be able to get to a conscensus who will be profitable for all.

    Sit down, talk and write down an agreement.

    Good luck!


    1 members found this post helpful.

  9. #29
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    she is more than happy to say he is not for sale. In fact, she told me she almost didn't want to say anything to me about the potential buyers, for fear I'd reconsider and sell him.
    Was she joking? Did she/does she let you know when this happens in a timely fashion whenever it happens? If not, that would concern me a bit. You need to have complete confidence in her integrity.

    One thing I am unclear on is; what do you want for your horse? What are you getting out of the arrangement? It is cool to own a horse that is very successful, but it is also very expensive. If you have all the money in the world, that is one thing. Beyond the boost to your ego, there is no real direct benefit to you.

    Your trainer, on the other hand, is being given the opportunity to compete at a level she otherwise wouldn't have access to. She is receiving financial backing from sponsors and gaining an enhanced reputation because of your horse and you are paying her on top of that. Though this is not unheard of (think Romenys and Ebelings, although I believe they are partners in Raffalca), it is very generous.

    So my question is; what's in it for you long term?
    See those flying monkeys? They work for me.


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  10. #30
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    OP, do you feel that your trainer is giving the same value to "the talent" (horse) that you contributed as you are, or you think she should?

    Friends at home, I didn't infer that the OP wanted Trainer to lower her prices because of this useful horse, but wanted some of the value that sponsors were giving to trainer as a result of this horse to be passed onto her. Trainer gets paid the same, but a windfall gets shared. Do I have that right?
    The armchair saddler
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  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by nhwr View Post
    Was she joking? Did she/does she let you know when this happens in a timely fashion whenever it happens? If not, that would concern me a bit. You need to have complete confidence in her integrity.

    One thing I am unclear on is; what do you want for your horse? What are you getting out of the arrangement? It is cool to own a horse that is very successful, but it is also very expensive. If you have all the money in the world, that is one thing. Beyond the boost to your ego, there is no real direct benefit to you.

    Your trainer, on the other hand, is being given the opportunity to compete at a level she otherwise wouldn't have access to. She is receiving financial backing from sponsors and gaining an enhanced reputation because of your horse and you are paying her on top of that. Though this is not unheard of (think Romenys and Ebelings, although I believe they are partners in Raffalca), it is very generous.

    So my question is; what's in it for you long term?
    No, she wasn't kidding....but she told me about the inquiries kind of in passing. I told her at that point that she needed to tell me about any future inquiries when they occur, as it's my right to know. She said she would....but it does make me wonder a bit.

    I supposed the benefit to me long term is that I may (depending on how my back feels) one day be able to compete the horse...and he will be a "made" horse...at least for the lower levels. And I do think the world of this horse, so seeing him compete and climb up the levels is thrilling. I'd love to see him achieve what I believe he is capable of. However, I don't have 10s of thousands of dollars to spend in show fees. So there is the rub.



  12. #32
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    My gut reaction is that your trainer has done a fabulous job of proving her worth - and every cent you are paying her. Paying less for her time & skills doesn't sound reasonable under these circumstances.

    As others have said, it never hurts to approach her about the CDI show fees, especially if your horse is her ticket into that world.


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  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    OP, do you feel that your trainer is giving the same value to "the talent" (horse) that you contributed as you are, or you think she should??
    I'm not sure I completely understand your question. If I'm reading it correctly, are you asking if the trainer values the talent of the horse as much as I do? Yes, I'd say she really values the horse....she really thinks the horse is something special.

    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    Friends at home, I didn't infer that the OP wanted Trainer to lower her prices because of this useful horse, but wanted some of the value that sponsors were giving to trainer as a result of this horse to be passed onto her. Trainer gets paid the same, but a windfall gets shared. Do I have that right?
    Yes, this is right. I think I mentioned a lowered board rate earlier, and that was my mistake. What I meant was what you have stated above...or as others have mentioned, that the training rate remains the same for my horse even it is goes up for others.



  14. #34
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    A paying client and a talented horse are every professional's dream. However, I suspect the use of the term"kickback" is what has stood out like a red flag at a bull fight.

    If the trainer is receiving serious sponsorship items, such as feed and bedding for her barn , tack and clothing, because of this horse, I don't think it unfair of the owner to suggest some accommodation,as all of this can be to the trainer's financial benefit for providing a service for which she is already being paid.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.


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  15. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by merrygoround View Post
    A paying client and a talented horse are every professional's dream. However, I suspect the use of the term"kickback" is what has stood out like a red flag at a bull fight.

    If the trainer is receiving serious sponsorship items, such as feed and bedding for her barn , tack and clothing, because of this horse, I don't think it unfair of the owner to suggest some accommodation,as all of this can be to the trainer's financial benefit for providing a service for which she is already being paid.
    Thank you....and yes, and perhaps the term "kickback" isn't the best word to use here. I just couldn't think of a better word when I wrote the original post last night.



  16. #36
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    No, she wasn't kidding....but she told me about the inquiries kind of in passing. I told her at that point that she needed to tell me about any future inquiries when they occur, as it's my right to know. She said she would....but it does make me wonder a bit.
    Warning, warning, warning!


    I supposed the benefit to me long term is that I may (depending on how my back feels) one day be able to compete the horse...and he will be a "made" horse...at least for the lower levels. And I do think the world of this horse, so seeing him compete and climb up the levels is thrilling. I'd love to see him achieve what I believe he is capable of. However, I don't have 10s of thousands of dollars to spend in show fees. So there is the rub.
    Been there, done that. It doesn't work very well. If the horse is really talented, your lower level efforts will interfere with its progress. It is thrilling to watch your horse compete and win. But it is also very expensive. If it is your goal to do lower levels, you will have a very expensive schoolmaster by the time it's your turn.

    Here is another away to look at it;

    The horse is at the level it is now because of your investment. (yes the trainer put the training in but she has been generously compensated to do that). For purposes of discussion, say you have put $50,000 into the horse (purchase price, plus expenses and training) At this point in time, the only difference between this and going out and buying a horse for $50,000 is the risk you took. The trainer has risked nothing, she was compensated for her efforts. It doesn't matter that she is the one who trained the horse. You have paid her (and more) for that, it is history. The one who takes the risks is entitled to the reward. Would you go out and buy her a $50,000 horse to compete? That is essentially what you have done.
    What if the horse is injured? Whose responsibility would that be? Again it seems to me the risk is all yours, though the trainer would undoubtably feel bad as she walked away from the situation.

    If all you want is to compete at lower levels when your back feels good, you probably have that now, so why put more $$$ into it. If you want to watch the horse climb the levels and succeed, you can do that if even you no longer own it. Right now you are paying the trainer to promote her own career and business. Is that your intention? Can you afford to do that? It is great if you can but recognize that is what you are doing and the risks you are taking.

    I have learned the hard way to avoid situation with unclear boundaries. This situation is loaded with them.
    See those flying monkeys? They work for me.


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  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by nhwr View Post
    Warning, warning, warning!


    Been there, done that. It doesn't work very well. If the horse is really talented, your lower level efforts will interfere with its progress. It is thrilling to watch your horse compete and win. But it is also very expensive. If it is your goal to do lower levels, you will have a very expensive schoolmaster by the time it's your turn.

    Here is another away to look at it;

    The horse is at the level it is now because of your investment. (yes the trainer put the training in but she has been generously compensated to do that). For purposes of discussion, say you have put $50,000 into the horse (purchase price, plus expenses and training) At this point in time, the only difference between this and going out and buying a horse for $50,000 is the risk you took. The trainer has risked nothing, she was compensated for her efforts. It doesn't matter that she is the one who trained the horse. You have paid her (and more) for that, it is history. The one who takes the risks is entitled to the reward. Would you go out and buy her a $50,000 horse to compete? That is essentially what you have done.
    What if the horse is injured? Whose responsibility would that be? Again it seems to me the risk is all yours, though the trainer would undoubtably feel bad as she walked away from the situation.

    If all you want is to compete at lower levels when your back feels good, you probably have that now, so why put more $$$ into it. If you want to watch the horse climb the levels and succeed, you can do that if even you no longer own it. Right now you are paying the trainer to promote her own career and business. Is that your intention? Can you afford to do that? It is great if you can but recognize that is what you are doing and the risks you are taking.

    I have learned the hard way to avoid situation with unclear boundaries. This situation is loaded with them.
    These are my thoughts, as well. You are taking all the risk, and paying a lot of money to do so. You should be reaping some of the rewards, as well.
    Quote Originally Posted by SuzieQNutter
    The whip is held across your thigh so as you can still hold the reins without spilling your coffee!!
    SillyHorse adds: Or your wine.



  18. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by nhwr View Post
    Warning, warning, warning!


    Been there, done that. It doesn't work very well. If the horse is really talented, your lower level efforts will interfere with its progress. It is thrilling to watch your horse compete and win. But it is also very expensive. If it is your goal to do lower levels, you will have a very expensive schoolmaster by the time it's your turn.

    Here is another away to look at it;

    The horse is at the level it is now because of your investment. (yes the trainer put the training in but she has been generously compensated to do that). For purposes of discussion, say you have put $50,000 into the horse (purchase price, plus expenses and training) At this point in time, the only difference between this and going out and buying a horse for $50,000 is the risk you took. The trainer has risked nothing, she was compensated for her efforts. It doesn't matter that she is the one who trained the horse. You have paid her (and more) for that, it is history. The one who takes the risks is entitled to the reward. Would you go out and buy her a $50,000 horse to compete? That is essentially what you have done.
    What if the horse is injured? Whose responsibility would that be? Again it seems to me the risk is all yours, though the trainer would undoubtably feel bad as she walked away from the situation.

    If all you want is to compete at lower levels when your back feels good, you probably have that now, so why put more $$$ into it. If you want to watch the horse climb the levels and succeed, you can do that if even you no longer own it. Right now you are paying the trainer to promote her own career and business. Is that your intention? Can you afford to do that? It is great if you can but recognize that is what you are doing and the risks you are taking.

    I have learned the hard way to avoid situation with unclear boundaries. This situation is loaded with them.
    You have made some excellent points. My SO would completely agree with you. It might be important to point out that I started my horse with this trainer out of necessity. I had back surgery and needed someone to keep my horse going while I recuperated. I had no idea how successful the pair would become in such a relatively short amount of time...and now I kind of feel like an outsider looking in. Don't get me wrong....I am thrilled by the progress my horse has made, but I've never been in this position before. I definitely appreciate you breaking it down to me in a tough-love way. You're right. Right now I carry absolutely all of the risk (and the bills!!). I'm honestly not sure what I should do. I guess I need to do some more thinking on this....



  19. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by nhwr View Post
    Warning, warning, warning!


    Been there, done that. It doesn't work very well. If the horse is really talented, your lower level efforts will interfere with its progress. It is thrilling to watch your horse compete and win. But it is also very expensive. If it is your goal to do lower levels, you will have a very expensive schoolmaster by the time it's your turn.

    Here is another away to look at it;

    The horse is at the level it is now because of your investment. (yes the trainer put the training in but she has been generously compensated to do that). For purposes of discussion, say you have put $50,000 into the horse (purchase price, plus expenses and training) At this point in time, the only difference between this and going out and buying a horse for $50,000 is the risk you took. The trainer has risked nothing, she was compensated for her efforts. It doesn't matter that she is the one who trained the horse. You have paid her (and more) for that, it is history. The one who takes the risks is entitled to the reward. Would you go out and buy her a $50,000 horse to compete? That is essentially what you have done.
    What if the horse is injured? Whose responsibility would that be? Again it seems to me the risk is all yours, though the trainer would undoubtably feel bad as she walked away from the situation.

    If all you want is to compete at lower levels when your back feels good, you probably have that now, so why put more $$$ into it. If you want to watch the horse climb the levels and succeed, you can do that if even you no longer own it. Right now you are paying the trainer to promote her own career and business. Is that your intention? Can you afford to do that? It is great if you can but recognize that is what you are doing and the risks you are taking.

    I have learned the hard way to avoid situation with unclear boundaries. This situation is loaded with them.
    While I agree that this situation needs to be clarified with a written contract (I believe you ALWAYS need a written contract, because memories are faulty) that will spell out "the Deal" to the satisfaction of both parties.

    But right now what is going on is pretty much a standard agreement in the dressage world, and yet it sounds like you are trying to freak out the OP that the trainer might be trying to "pull" something.

    Very few trainers own their own top level horses because the prices are prohibitive. Buying foals and horses not yet started is very risky and time consuming (and expensive if it doesn't work out), so most trainers like to see that the horse has UL talent before they even purchase the beast.

    And despite all the THOUSANDS of dressage-bred horses produced each year, just a small # go on to be GP champions. That is in part because (especially here in the US) there simply aren't enough trainers who can take them from A-Z.

    So far, the OP's trainer is doing it. That sets her apart from many trainers right away. I mean, let's say Mathis got Totilas first -- how many of you think he'd be setting records at the WEG if that had happened?

    My opinion has always been it's harder to find a good rider than a good horse, so I think the OP should be happy about the situation.

    However, since she isn't rich, both parties need to sit down and discuss what their future goals are for the horse. For instance, work out a show "budget" that works for both of you -- if the trainer wants to show in some more expensive venues, then she will need to foot the bill. But all this needs to be worked out on a item by item basis.

    THEN GET A WRITTEN CONTRACT!!

    And the OP needs to decide if there IS a firm number she'd consider as a sale price if it was offered. Of course the trainer will be sorry to see the horse go, but if she is gaining a "rep" she will be offered other top-level horses and Life will go on.

    But again I stress -- get it all written down!! Think of every situation you can and address it in the contract. I'm willing to bet Jane & Dick Brown didn't throw down many 10's of 1000's of $$ on just a hand-shake...

    Oh -- and while I won't recommend riding your horse now while he's in "pro" training, if you keep working on YOUR riding and keep supporting the horse, he may well come back to you as an UL schoolmaster when he retires. Considering you could easily spend $60,000+ on a schoolmaster, you could say that now you are just paying for him in advance.

    But right now, the set-up is about what is typical in the UL dressage world.


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  20. #40
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    IMO, both HO and Trainer should be very protective of their good relationship and open lines of communication. OP, y'all need to talk.

    What you bring is a unique and useful horse....plus the money to keep it in full training and showing. And you are willing, even though what you are paying for has limited value to you if you only ever spectate. Trainer gets paid the same to train each horse-- whether the horse and client have anything great to offer as you do, or not.

    Since more expensive shows are coming up and you guys had that little communication lapse about offers to buy the horse, I think it's reasonable to ask Trainer for a State of the Union-type sit down just now.

    ETA: That's because any horse trainer needs to continually keep your business. The right way to do that is to do a great job and *attract* you to her barn. The wrong way is to try to make it hard for you to leave or sell. So ask yourself what Trainer needs to do *right now* to make you drop any reservations you have. Do you need something financial? Does just "not showing at the expensive CDIs" do it for you? Do you want to continue to show but put a dollar limit on that (maybe getting something additional back from the trainer that your pour back into more shows)? Do you actually want to sell the horse? Do you actually want to consider other trainers? Figure out what you want, and you'll be able to be more clear with the trainer.

    I like the idea of the trainer holding your rates constant, no matter what she does with other/new clients. In general, I think "different prices for different people" is unprofessional and a recipe for disaster. But in this case, observers (like other clients) can appreciate why this is happening: You contributed the right horse at the right time and the funds to help the trainer take her career up a notch. Most of us can't-- or won't-- do that for a trainer, so we can realize that the good deal you are getting on training doesn't mean you are spending less money in the end.

    I think your SO raises a reasonable question that has two answers. One is, "Honey, HO-ing is a money-losing proposition by nature. Accept that as a premise." The other is, "I am giving back to the sport in this way. Think of me as being the boss who gave a talented, hard-working college grad a way into an industry. Sure, if he screws up, I'll show him the door. But you have to cultivate the good ones by supplying opportunity."
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat


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