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Is letting your horse go on a trial just a H/J thing?

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  • Is letting your horse go on a trial just a H/J thing?

    There is another thread over on Off Course (as there are often...) about the evils of letting your horse go on trial. I'm wondering if allowing your sale horse go on trial for a week or so to a trainer you trust is just a H/J thing.

    I've gotten horses in for me to try for a week here and there with very little red tape. Dare I say no red tape? They showed up for a week, I rode them and my trainer cared for them up to her standards, and then we either sent them back or I bought them. I sent both of my horses that I've sold out on trial in much the same way -- to people under trainers who my own trainer knows and trusts. The horses I got in for myself were in the $20k range, and the horses I sold were $10k-$15k. Other people in my barn have got horses in for trial that cost 3 to 4 times that much with no more hoopla.

    Is it because people in other disciplines don't seem to have the trainer network that most active H/J peeps do? I have to assume that they aren't working through trainers... Is it because many of our horses are active show horses who are already insured?

    I guess I just don't understand it. I mean, I understand not letting your horse go to some yahoo's backyard who found you on the internet, but to a higy quality trainer who you know? ...And maybe that's the difference.

    So my question, I suppose, is how do you H/J people feel about trials? Maybe I'm completely wrong and I'm from the only barn in the world that does trials like this!!

  • #2
    The difference is in the trainers. H/J trainers often have much more "control" over their clients. (There are good and bad things to this). If your trainer and mine get along we might agree to the trial.

    I think this happens in other "horse sports" as well, but it is at the control of the trainers (and less the owners). You being H/J just don't see it.

    If you tried to get an independant owner to give a trial to another independent owner, I think the lack of "reputation", makes it far more difficult. Remember these trainers are "work associates" so amongst themselves their reputation is important.
    Last edited by White Lie; Sep. 15, 2011, 11:07 AM. Reason: clarity

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    • #3
      Trials were pretty much routine when I used to work in the H/J field. I think you hit the nail on the head with the remark about the trainer network. Yes, I might feel differently about having my horse go out on trial to a trainer I knew and trusted, and knew the horse would be under his/her direct supervision. But I have seen so much crap now about what goes on in the industry that to just hand over my horse to anyone is not a comforting thought. Even some of the barns with BNT, I wouldn't do it. Too much can go wrong....the possibilities of a legal nightmare are real.

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      • #4
        I think trials between trainers who get along and who know each other are still normal.

        The problem many of us have had and have been burned by is that people will take your horse "on trial" and will treat it like a jumping bean, and jump its legs off. Then it comes back to you lame and they say, "Sorry, it just didn't work for me."

        I will let a horse go on trial but only on the stipulation that the vet check happens prior to it leaving so that it isn't overworked and made sore and THEN vetted. I also expect a nonrefundable deposit, and the check for the sale price which would be returned if they didn't end up wanting the horse.

        It would be nice to think that you can trust all people with the care of your horse while they are being allowed to test it out, but the truth is people just don't have the same respect for other people's property.

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        • #5
          We sent a very nice mare on trial who was returned 4/5 lame with a career ending, massive stifle injury. Of course, the folks who injured her refused to return calls or emails... so we were left holding the bag. Insurance binders don't help because they aren't for loss of use, just death. Therefore, we gave away this $20k mare several months later after all attempts to fix the issue failed (read, more money and time invested to fix something which wasn't our fault). So, after this, nothing goes on trial, ever, period. I would be equally afraid as a buyer to take one on trial because of the risk, to both parties - freak, or not so freak, situations can happen and the legal consequences as caryledee suggests can be dire.
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          • #6
            I will not send a horse on trial unless I know the trainer and the barn very very well, and have an insurance policy in place. End of story.
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            • #7
              When I had a young horse with a trainer who specializes in sales, I asked her about this as someone wanted to take my horse on trial (I didn't do it). My impression was that mostly h/j people asked for this, and she agreed. She sells to other disciplines - dressage, eventing, pleasure - but it was the h/j people that always ask for the trial.

              I'm not adverse to allowing a trial in principle -- I have been on the other side (bringing a horse in that I was trying) and appreciate that I was able to do so. But I wouldn't at the time allow it with a young horse going to a novice amateur in a barn where the pro was laid up due to injury. Now, an older, made horse, going to a barn where I knew the pro would be involved and riding...I'd be fine, with the usual insurance, contract, etc.

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              • #8
                I think it's more a sign of the times. Horses, generally speaking, aren't selling all that well. Some owners have to bite the bullet and send horses out on trial when it's not something they would normally do.

                I will never send a horse out on trial. I board at a nice facility with a big indoor and outdoor ring. A potential buyer is welcome to come try the horse as often as they need to (within reason) under the supervision of my trainer. I've heard too many horror stories to risk one of my nice horses. There's a reason that my horses are boarded and trained where they are. Nobody else gets that job unless someone else owns them.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Go Fish View Post
                  I think it's more a sign of the times. Horses, generally speaking, aren't selling all that well. Some owners have to bite the bullet and send horses out on trial when it's not something they would normally do.

                  I will never send a horse out on trial. I board at a nice facility with a big indoor and outdoor ring. A potential buyer is welcome to come try the horse as often as they need to (within reason) under the supervision of my trainer. I've heard too many horror stories to risk one of my nice horses. There's a reason that my horses are boarded and trained where they are. Nobody else gets that job unless someone else owns them.
                  This.

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                  • #10
                    I do not let mine go out on trial. They can try multiple times, ride at a show, but the horse stays under my or trainers control. When I boarded at a H/J barn and I saw a couple of bad trials. 1 youngster was mentally blown and 1 horse was never totally sound again. then add to some of the stories written here, its not worth the risk. I have never asked for a trial either.
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                    • #11
                      We don't let ours go on trial either. We are open 9-5 24/7 so people are welcome to drop by unannounced if you are worried about doping (which we would never and have never done) and we let people ride them as many times as they would like. Once it's on the trailer though, it's yours.

                      The few times we have made exceptions, it has been a bad experience.

                      That being said, as far as trainers knowing trainers, I'm putting my WB up for sale with my trainer and if she has a trainer friend with a client that she trusts, I would let him go on trial.
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                      • #12
                        In the past, I've been at Morgan, ASB & Arab barns and never saw a horse go on trial. You would ride the horse, and if you liked it, you bought it. I rarely saw anyone try a horse more than twice, much less have a week++ to see if it would work out.

                        When I picked up jumping about a year and a half ago, I went to a good barn with a good reputation, and I've yet to see a client buy or lease a horse here without a trial. They seem very de rigeur in the hunter/jumper world.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Go Fish View Post
                          I think it's more a sign of the times. Horses, generally speaking, aren't selling all that well. Some owners have to bite the bullet and send horses out on trial when it's not something they would normally do.

                          I will never send a horse out on trial. I board at a nice facility with a big indoor and outdoor ring. A potential buyer is welcome to come try the horse as often as they need to (within reason) under the supervision of my trainer. I've heard too many horror stories to risk one of my nice horses. There's a reason that my horses are boarded and trained where they are. Nobody else gets that job unless someone else owns them.
                          I totally agree with this assessment.

                          I do not allow trials either... except in very rare cases, where I know the buyer's trainer very well. And even then, the trial is structured basically as a purchase, where they may return the horse for a refund in the event that it comes back in a condition acceptable to me.
                          **********
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                          • #14
                            I know people that have taken dressage horses on trial for a week or so. As other people have mentioned, the trainer network here is key. Usually the people willing to send their horse to stay at our barn for trial know the barn owner and trust her. In some cases, she has called the owner or trainer to reassure them of her care standard and then they have agreed to let the horses come for a trial period.
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Across Sicily View Post
                              In the past, I've been at Morgan, ASB & Arab barns and never saw a horse go on trial. You would ride the horse, and if you liked it, you bought it. I rarely saw anyone try a horse more than twice, much less have a week++ to see if it would work out.

                              When I picked up jumping about a year and a half ago, I went to a good barn with a good reputation, and I've yet to see a client buy or lease a horse here without a trial. They seem very de rigeur in the hunter/jumper world.
                              I have seen a couple trials in an ASB barn, one was for a special needs kid, the other kid just can't ride. Outside of that barn, they've been few and far between. From what I've seen here, I don't think most H/J trainers are anywhere near the control freaks ASB trainers are.

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Go Fish View Post
                                I think it's more a sign of the times.
                                A potential buyer is welcome to come try the horse as often as they need to (within reason) under the supervision of my trainer. Nobody else gets that job unless someone else owns them.
                                My camp. There ARE a few close professional associates I Do send horses on trial, but then, we trust each other, and years of association has built this relationship. Those sales (or attempts) work, and horses cared for well, ridden properly...

                                Sadly, the priviledge of a trial has been abused over the years, which lends most to not even attempt it. You can find many of my past posts just advise to Not Even do a trial stating that there isnt a contract made that can protect all 3 parties. I do offer what GoFish has stated above.... visit as often as you wish >>>>>>(and even that has to have *within reason* added since Its been abused too!)
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                                • #17
                                  Nope, no way. Unless it is set up as Lucassb sets hers up. The sale is basically done, but with a fairly liberal return policy (which could include one show, etc.) and a refund minus a non-refundable deposit (a substantial sum, too, so that you are compensated for being without the horse for that time period, and to further inconvenience them monetarily if they elect to return).

                                  The problem is that there are so few real horse people left that 1) the buyers are so clueless and misinformed about horses/soundness/training, that they feel they have to have the horse in their possession and put it in EVERY. CONCEIVABLE. SITUATION. before they can make up their minds. This goes for trainers, too. and 2) they don't know how much is too much, nor how to care for the animal they have on trial. Again, trainers...

                                  These are the same people who will turn one down for ANY reason on the pre-purchase, because they truly believe there are perfect horses out there, rather than evaluating the issue and the ongoing management and THEN deciding if it is a deal breaker. We have recently had a horse turned down because his front feet were not identical in size. Seriously. Not a single other issue but this.
                                  Laurie

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                                  • #18
                                    I also would not agree to a trial, but when I was active in an ASB barn, they got horses in on trial from time to time. Some of them were bought, some not, but looking back (I was in high school when I rode at that barn and didn't think much about it at the time), I wonder if the owners that let them go knew how they would be used? A couple were used for lessons and for camp week...nothing particularly harmful, but definitely more use than one person/one ride per day. But the horses were well taken care of and in the same condition at the end of the trial as at the beginning. Still, whenever I think about a trial, that sticks in the back of my mind, and I doubt I'd ever do one of my own.
                                    Caitlin
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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by horsetales View Post
                                      I do not let mine go out on trial. They can try multiple times, ride at a show, but the horse stays under my or trainers control. When I boarded at a H/J barn and I saw a couple of bad trials. 1 youngster was mentally blown and 1 horse was never totally sound again. then add to some of the stories written here, its not worth the risk. I have never asked for a trial either.
                                      What she/he said :-)
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                                      • #20
                                        I am an event rider and have sent and been sent horses to try on occasion. I don't LIKE sending horses away, but I've yet to have a huge disaster...just some silly reasons why the sale didn't happen.

                                        I just sold my own, personal horse, and I was very wary of sending him on trial. One buyer really wanted to take him on trial, but I had a very icky feeling with them, did not know the trainer and was just very wary about the whole ordeal. They did not take him, and lost interest in quick order. I was ok with that.

                                        However, the person who did finally buy him DID take him on trial. HOWEVER, I knew his trainer and the trainer's very prominent eventing family and was very, very comfortable with the situation. This was not a backyard operation or something with a fuzzy reputation, but a highly respected person in the industry. While I hated to see him leave, I knew he would be safe, respected for who he was, and well cared for. While the deal took MUCH longer than anyone really expected (the whole thing should have taken a week, but various snafus with the vetting caused it to take more like THREE!), but it got done and I'm thrilled with his home. I would probably not have let him leave for much less (basically it had to be someone I knew...and liked! picky, I know, but this horse is special beyond belief).

                                        I can see why it is more prevelant in the h/j world. Because most trainers have more control, you have a good idea that the horse will be well cared for and thoughtfully ridden and tried while away.
                                        Amanda

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