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View Poll Results: Is it a deal breaker if a seller says No to a trial?

124. You may not vote on this poll
  • Yes - Dealbreaker. I will not buy a horse without an off site trial

    8 6.45%
  • No - Not a deal breaker. I'll purchase the right horse without an off site trial period

    98 79.03%
  • Depends... (Explain below)

    18 14.52%
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May. 22, 2003

    Default POLL - Horse Buyers - Is No Trial a Deal Breaker?

    Curious to know how buyers feel about trial periods when purchasing a horse. Obviously, a trial period is ideal, but is it a deal breaker if a seller refuses? I'm talking about an off site trial period where the buyer takes the horse to his or her own barn for a period of time - as opposed to being able to ride the horse at the seller's barn for a period of time before deciding.

    As a seller, I have had a couple of very bad experiences with trials, and all of the horses I have sold in the past few years sold without trials. I have allowed trials to approved barns/trainers in the past, but my bad experiences were to approved / known barns and trainers... so I am moving to a "no trial" policy, though buyers would certainly be welcomed to try horses at my farm multiple times before buying.

    I know this can be a controversial topic, but I am really curious to hear honest opinions.

    (And I've been MIA from the boards for a while, so I apologize if this was very recently posted. I cannot get my search feature to work properly.)

    1 members found this post helpful.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul. 10, 2003
    It's not really mid nor west


    No, not a deal breaker. I think people are dumb (or at least overly trusting) to offer trials, if they don't know the trial-ee or at least their trainer very very well! I would be too nervous to take a horse on trial, anyway. With my luck the horse would get into some kind of a wreck and there would be a big drama-filled situation.
    Anyway, no, I don't expect a trial.
    As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.

    2 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan. 31, 2010


    As a buyer (agent for) I will want a trial if the seller is unable to properly let us try the horse (such as they don't have a proper facility to try it or too far away to try more than once), however I prefer to vet the horse prior to the trial starting, so the only reason to not buy is the horse's suitability...I find it harder to be objective about the PPE once we have gotten to know the horse and like it. I think this also shows the seller we are serious, and takes out the risk of the horse not doing well on a PPE and wondering if it was something done on the trial to cause the fail.

    If we are able to properly try out the horse, or I have known the horse at shows, then I would not feel in need of a trial.

    1 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul. 1, 2011


    I have never bought a horse after a trial. I bought my first horse after trying it once, my second horse after trying it once, my third horse after trying it twice and my forth horse after trying it twice. I've never been disappointed in what I have bought.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul. 31, 2007


    I voted NO, meaning I'll buy a horse without an off-site trial.

    I think if you are buying a horse (always a bad idea even for experienced people) you or someone with you should know enough to evaluate the animal where it is.

    If it's not currently doing the job you want, I think the HO should do her best to demonstrate that the horse can. So, for example, if you want a horse that will do hunter trials, there should be some way for you to try it outside the ring.

    I think it's asking way to much of the HO to have the horse leave the HO's control. I wouldn't want to send a sales horse on trial, so I practice "reciprocity" and won't ask someone for the same.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat

    3 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug. 21, 2006
    Pa-eternally laboring in the infinite creative and sustentative work of the universe


    Ive said it many times on COTH....
    There is Not a contract or situation that can protect all 3 parties, > the horse, the owner, the buyer -- enough to make this a suitable arrangement.

    I will Not let a horse go on trail -- and yes, Ive had buyers insist this is a deal-breaker -- really?
    I offer a buyer can ride as often as they like, they can try the horse in their discipline -- as in ...lets go foxhunting!, or ride a CTR, or a show...of course, the expenses are their responsibility -- and yes, they have me along.
    There is No other way to sell a horse today -- like you, Ive had enough of those bad experiences to warrant this opinion.
    Trust this ...... "the right buyer always comes along"
    OTTB's ready to show/event/jumpers. Track ponies for perfect trail partners.

    4 members found this post helpful.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec. 15, 2005


    If I can try the horse at least 3 times while at the owner's place and adequately evaluate the horse in her setting, and am not worried about the horse being drugged, I am ok without a trial. I bought my last horse without a trial. I rode him out on the trails one day with the seller. A few days later, I took him on a trail ride for 2 hours, by myself. Then, she trailered him to my daughter's house for the vetting, and I could see that he was ok off the farm. Several of our other horses were only purchased after a trial.

    Having the trial at our trainer's barn has worked out well for us in the past. That way, I am sure there are no meds in the system, and that the horse can cope in a new setting. The owner worries less because the trainer has a lovely place and is extremely careful.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug. 17, 2004
    Rixeyville, VA


    It is not worth the risk for me to do a trial. I'm happy with the buyer riding the horse multiple times at my place, paying for me to have the horse at a show or off property, but there is no way I will turn over care, custody and control in a sale situation. Has it I caused me to lose sales....yes, but I have plenty of room to keep the horse, so it is no big deal. Personally, I have never asked for a trial for ANY horse I have purchased.

    I understand that doping can be an issue. I always have the vet draw and hold blood, whether I am the buyer or the seller. If something changes radically in the horse's behavior or soundness, I will have the blood run. My contract allows for a horse to be returned for a full refund if the blood work shows doping.
    Last edited by IronwoodFarm; Nov. 28, 2013 at 11:46 AM. Reason: clarification
    Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec. 12, 2010


    I've never bought a horse that the seller let me take on trial. My new guy could have potentially went on trial wit me, if the circumstances were different.
    So, no, it is definitely not a deal breaker for me.
    The New Banner's Choice- 1994 ASB Mare
    Dennis The Menace Too- 1999 ASB Gelding
    Dreamacres Sublime- 2008 ASB Gelding

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar. 11, 2006


    I have never taken a horse on trial per se. We have leased horses and ended up owning them; but to me that is different. I mostly buy youngstock so trial periods are a mute point.
    Ranch of Last Resort

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul. 16, 2013


    Also voted no, I've never taken a horse on trial either. I'd expect the owner to be accommodating in terms of allowing you to ride and handle the horse but I can understand why people may be resistant to a off site trial.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec. 31, 2000
    El Paso, TX


    Never had a trial. Last two horses I bought, one was only seen in a video, and one only in his stall, then trotted on a lead.

    I'd never offer a trial. If someone can't make a decision without keeping the horse at their place, then they need to look elsewhere. Too risky to give someone a horse for a few days/weeks, and give them the chance to injure and return him, or screw him up.
    Eagerly awaiting Jan 20th, 2017. Drain the swamp.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan. 21, 2010


    3 horses, no trials. Though the first horse was an unofficial trial as he belonged to a neighbor and I conditioned him for years. Neighbor had too many endurance horses to keep conditioned by himself.
    To be honest, I wouldn't even consider asking for a trial.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr. 28, 2000


    I have benefited from the privilege of an off-site trial (it IS a privilege) a few times in the past. Twice I bought the horse, and once I didn't. Everything went fine. That said, I have never offered a trial when I've sold a horse. I think I'd be a nervous wreck because so much CAN go wrong.

    I've also bought other horses after one brief test ride, others after two-three test rides, and one after multiple test rides over a period of months (long story :-) ). I agree that the right buyer will come along with or without the trial period opportunity. But I think sellers should be completely willing to bring the horse off the property for a buyer to evaluate. It's a very good compromise.

  15. #15


    It's not a dealbreaker for me, but it is a dealbreaker for some people I know.

    They don't expect a trial from every seller, and are happy to risk walking away from a potentially suitable horse if a trial is not allowed. They prefer a smaller market and longer search in order to have the comfort/confidence/whatever they are looking for in a trial before they buy.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug. 22, 2006


    It is not a deal breaker... if the seller is local. However, if the horse is over say 1.5+ hours away it is not logistically realistic for me to travel 2-3 times to a farm to ride the horse with a corporate work schedule, even IF the farm has an indoor. What's more, I'd strongly prefer to have the horse vetted by my personal vet, as well as approved by my trainer and if my farrier can look at his feet too even better. So while I don't need to ride the horse 10 times to decide if it's for me, it's really about being able to have the horse reviewed by the pros I have personal relationships with.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar. 27, 2011
    Waaaaay back Slaughter Holler


    I have bought a lot of horses and never taken one on trial.

    I let one horse go out on trial. She got hauled to Texas from the Northeast, used in the World's team penning championships, and got returned to me when the person who had her on trial decided she was too much horse for her. And she was returned much thinner than when she left. After that experience I will never let a horse go out on trial again!

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb. 14, 2008


    I would not take a horse on trail now a days. Of my 2 boys now the first was at my barn already so I tried him a few times before buying him. My second boy I never even got on once. I bought him after some idiot girl flipped him (on the flat no less) and the owner decided her boyfriend was more important than the horse and was going to send him to the killers. I was not looking for another horse.

    I have heard way too many horror stories to ever consider doing a trial for either buying or selling.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan. 28, 2003
    The birthplace of Jesse James


    We almost always have to do a trial down here is coastal SC, to find out if the horse or pony can do gnats. Some horses truly can't, and I once had a very nice SS pony turn into a bronco with them, sent her back, she got sold to the midwest and was champion for many years. Absolute nightmare in the gnats.
    "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec. 20, 2010


    I've bought horses from all over the US and never had a trial, never even asked for one. I would never let one of mine go on a trial either, it's not worth the risk. I've lost a sale or two over the years but I'm fine with that.

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