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Need horror stories about extra fees from trainers when buying a horse!

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  • #21
    I think this topic is important because the people writing the checks need to stay involved in the process...not always hassling the trainer, etc. but be aware. Don't ever leave this in another's hands and then complain you got taken...

    That said and in answer to the OP:

    Many years ago I brokered a deal for a children's hunter for a friend of mine. I was living in another state with my other (ex) husband and boarding my old show horse at pretty much the only h/j barn within an hour's drive. The "trainer" at this farm had already sold my friend's family 2 horses out of his barn that were always going to be inappropriate for them for a variety of reasons. They didn't know any better at the time they bought those horses but along the way realized what was what and wanted the purchase of the children's hunter to be a horse that would actually suit. They had "real" money and weren't afraid to spend it. So Trainer (pretty much only trainer in town for h/j) started trying to sell them stuff already in his barn - unsound things with little to no training and/or experience, etc. Again, these folks were willing to spend what it took to get something the daughter could point and shoot and get some ribbons - but Trainer refused to take them to see other horses. He continued to say they didn't need to waste his time since he had what they needed right there. (I guess a barely broke 6 year old with trashed hocks is a good show horse for an 11 year old ???). I feel like this guy saw the budget and wanted the full 5 digits they were spending instead of 10% - plus he could unload one of his horses on them. My friend told him that they wanted to ask me to help, asked if that was okay with him, etc. He gives his blessing and off we go.

    I make a few calls to some well known folks back home and find something I think will work - solid citizen with a solid show record and easy, easy, easy to get to the ring. A couple of field trips to try the horse and a vetting later, my friend tells Trainer she has bought a new horse, arriving in 10 days or so from NC, farm it's coming from, etc. He asks what she ended up paying for the horse; she asks why he needs to know. Conversation derails from that as arrangements are made for arrival of new horse 10 days later. During that time, Trainer unsuccessfully digs around the horse community to try and find what the horse sold for, guessitmates, and then sends my friend a bill for his "commission." My friend confronted him over the validity of this practice - he claims everyone does it. Her argument is that he had nothing to do with any part of the deal at all and could have made the phone calls and arrangements just like I did. He tells her that's not the way it works in the horse business and that she can pay up or move all her horses somewhere else. She ended up moving her horses - she had been paying him training board on 2 horses for 2 years at this point. He lost that income, lessons about 2-3 times a week for mother and child, show fees, unrelated tack purchases he would bill her for saying the stuff was for her horses...the whole 9 yards.

    My friend was one of those clients everyone wishes they had. She just did what the trainer said and wrote checks for whatever she was told. And this incident was not her first rodeo...she had already been World's Best Client for about 3 years at a shakey tail barn where she leased and bought horses and took lessons all the time. Her interests changed and that's how she ended up with h/j trainer guy. I remember her telling me she thought it would be different sine the h/j stuff didn't seem as superficial as the saddle horses. She learned the hard way. She ended up building her own high end facility with living quarters and hired stable help and a trainer and bought 2 more horses over the next year or two. Said she was tired of being lied to and taken advantage of. :-/

    There are some really honest, great trainers out there who don't try to stick it to their clients. It's the greedy idiots that everyone remembers, though.

    Comment


    • #22
      Commissions

      Originally posted by vixen9 View Post
      so Im upset and have to vent. I have been taken by MANY trainers over the years, for $100,000s. so i found one that seemed to be honest. seemed to be a decent guy. just showed me a horse for $60,000 more than he just paid for it.... more than a 100% commission... and it had veterinary issues on top so i passed. then they showed me a horse they just paid 38000 for in europe -- which they priced to me at 175 but would take 165000. Im so mad. I seriously think that there is not one single honest horse trainer out there -- not one! and i guess i either need a new trainer or just to quit the sport i love.... again.
      Okay.... Buyer pays whatever Buyer deems is reasonable for a horse, regardless of what the Seller originally paid for it. A horse is worth what someone's willing to pay. Rich people are the easiest to rip off. Why do people with savvy business backgrounds make such careless choices when it comes to buying horses? Having said that, trainers have a fiduciary duty not to rip off their clients, nor may they sell other people's horses and pocket the difference. The seller (via the trainer(s)) can charge whatever they want. The trainer can sell their own horse for whatever they want. Trainer cannot add onto Seller's asking price beyond reasonable commission. Of course this happens all the time.. especially with imports. When buying a horse the lay person should ask for a second opinion as to the worth of the horse. There are also professional appraisers. There is also the reputation of you trainer.. how much do you know about him or her? Don't be a fool with your money, but also realize that several pockets may be getting lined when you buy a horse, so make sure you are happy with the vetting, get second opinions of radiographs, and use your brain. And don't say no to that expensive horse that suits you best because the built in costs don't matter, as long as you love the horse.
      As for selling, no one should rip you off and there should be utter transparency. The brokering should be conducted in a lawyer's office the way a real estate deal would be brokered. And the bill of sale in every case must be actually signed by the seller! Not an agent. And perhaps it should be notarized to make sure it isn't a phoney. Finally, check the show record of any horse you are considering buying and see how recent it is, how many were in the individual classes, and look for any holes or gaps of time where the horse may have been laid up and therefore not showing. But what do I know?! lol

      Comment


      • #23
        Several states including Florida and I believe Kentucky, have enacted laws that require full disclosure to both the buyer and seller how much the horse sold for and how much was paid in commissions. Requiring full disclosure in the sales contract would eliminate many of these issues.
        Trainers would no longer be able to "mark up" a horse without the knowledge of the buyer and seller and commissions would be fully disclosed.

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        • #24
          when we first entered "the horsey world" we definitely got taken advantage of, but learned our lessons quickly. now I won't look at a horse just by word of mouth. I find advertised horses then bring trainer into the equation. that way, I know what the asking price is, at least to start.

          I do know of a trainer who just bought a horse at an auction for $325 and two days later was going to market him for $7500 to "those crazy eventers who'll dish out the dough".....

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          • #25
            Finzean said it best - in the first & last paragraphs.
            CAVEAT EMPTOR, people!

            Back in the 80s I used to work at a barn where the BO would pick up horses at auction or off the track - average price $500 - then resell to clients for $5K.
            It was a standing joke - they were all 5yo (no papers) and cost $5K.
            Backfired on him once when a little (just shy of 15h) QH he got wound up doing Jumpers in FL for about 10X his usual sale price.

            I bought my first horse from my then-H/J trainer who thought she saw me coming.
            I told her my budget knowing full well her standard commission was 15%.
            Sure enough, first horse I liked was priced $2K over my bottom line.
            I told her, so sorry, keep looking.
            and magically price dropped to my figure.
            I'm sure horse was priced low enough to still get her some profit or she lowered her % to keep me in her barn.
            But I saw in him exactly what I wanted and turns out I was right.
            A year later I was offered 3X his price, a couple years after that 10X.
            I had him 20 years & miss him still.
            *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
            Steppin' Out 1988-2004
            Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
            Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

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            • #26
              Originally posted by SonnysMom View Post
              I worked at a farm MANY years ago. One of the client's moved out west and wanted the BM to sell her horse for her. Commission was supposed to be 15% plus regular board and expenses such as farrier, vet etc... Owner leaves area.

              Dobbin sold within 3 weeks. BM keeps charging owner board. Every 6 weeks she has the farrier shoe a horse that she says is named Dobbin. She had a horse colic and told the vet horse was named Dobbin.

              Nine months later owner calls to say she will be in town the next week. BM says "Oh, good news Dobbin just sold last week. Just waiting on final paperwork before I send you your check."

              She then tells owner that horse sold for $Y when horse really sold for 2 times $Y. BM takes commission on $Y plus keeps the difference for between $Y and two times $Y.

              BM was bragging about this to me after the fact. I never knew the horse, owner or owner's name. I didn't work at that farm much longer.


              Same BM was selling a grey pony that sometimes had some minor soundness issues. Prospective buyers arrange for a PPE but aren't going to be there for the PPE. BM brings a different grey pony out to the vet for the PPE. This pony is known to be sound and is a much fancier pony. Pony passes PPE with flying colors. Ringer pony was also the about the age the sale pony was advertised as. Sale pony was really about 10 years older than advertised. BM bragged about that one, too.

              Not exactly hidden fees but still ways to cheat the new owner or the old owner.
              Is this the same trainer who was sued and lost in a "Land Mark" case in PA for selling a horse for nearly $45K more than the Selling owner got as well as taking the Buyers other horse as part of the deal/payment and selling that one for 40K??? And then the Buyer finally wakes up and finds out horse has Advanced Navicular and was being drugges as well??

              OP I say go for it....I sell horses and greasing palms, padding bills, behind the buyers back agreements SUCK...People look on Horse Sellers like Used Car Dealers and this business has always needed a shake up Wake Up Clean Up...But I have to say it is Way Worse in H/J land than over in Eventing where I now have most of my Clients. Not Squeeky Clean but much better...

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              • #27
                Originally posted by gabby.gator View Post
                I do know of a trainer who just bought a horse at an auction for $325 and two days later was going to market him for $7500 to "those crazy eventers who'll dish out the dough".....
                I don't think this is wrong. The trainer bought the horse. He can then decide whatever price he wants to put on.
                If the trainer been acting as a broker/agent between the seller at 350$ and the buyer for 7500$, then that would be considered fraud for me.
                ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

                Originally posted by LauraKY
                I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
                HORSING mobile training app

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                • #28
                  I once bought a pony after watching him trot across a field. I rode him for two weeks and sold him for three times as much. How is that cheating? I took a chance, put some training in and he was a fancy prospect. I've actually done that twice. I also taken a failed hunter, too quick, and started in dressage, schoold xc and priced him up $1000.
                  Sometimes the trainers take the chances and we deserve the $$.
                  I also have the resale TB that developed an issue and he's been living off my dollar in the field for 5 years... and he's only 13.
                  I bought myself a broodmare, a student loved her look, so I rode her for a couple weeks and sold her for double, although it was not a lot.
                  My expertise, my chances, my $$ when it works out.
                  www.ncsporthorse.com

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                  • #29
                    Originally posted by alibi_18 View Post
                    I don't think this is wrong. The trainer bought the horse. He can then decide whatever price he wants to put on.
                    If the trainer been acting as a broker/agent between the seller at 350$ and the buyer for 7500$, then that would be considered fraud for me.
                    I agree. Plenty of people flip horses and there's no fraud in recognizing quality and polishing a horse up to make money on the sale. Just because it's a trainer doing it doesn't make it wrong.

                    Years ago I was involved in a lawsuit where I was the buyer. I had paid X amount of money for a horse from a trainer who was acting as the agent for a seller. I negotiated the price down and the trainer OK'd it but said that the seller would only agree to the price drop if I paid the trainer's commission. I agreed and wrote the trainer a check for the commission and a check for the horse. Lo and behold, later I found out that the trainer gave the commission check to the owner and pocketed the other check for herself. Her defense? "Everybody does it."

                    It was a good education for green-as-grass me.
                    "Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?" Sun Tzu, The Art of War
                    Rainy
                    Stash

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                    • #30
                      A question for the OP: How do you define "extra fees"? Are you looking for stories of nickle and diming on the actual sale process? A trainer's time and experience are valuable but there are those who pad the transaction at every turn for every cup of coffee, a glance out the window, and then some. What exactly are you looking for?

                      @shea'smom brings up a good point and one I agree with so long as horses aren't*** misrepresented to sellers. What a trainer paid for a horse can be largely irrelevant in the long run. (For example, I was given a saddle in lieu of a board bill; saddle was worth more than bill, do I only sell it for the amount of the board bill or for what the market will bear? Seems this theory would apply to horse sales...)
                      Last edited by Finzean; Nov. 29, 2012, 09:44 AM. Reason: typed are instead of aren't - TOTALLY changes everything sorry I didn't catch it the first time...

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                      • #31
                        A trainer buying a cheap horse and flipping it is different than an owner selling a horse for XX price and the trainer telling their client it's YY price and pocketing the difference. I've heard stories where there has been a mid five figure difference between the original owner's selling price and what the new owner actually spent. It's super shady and unethical.

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                        • #32
                          SHEA...I don't think most people have a problem with any trainer pricing a horse they own at whatever they want.

                          I think the OP is interested in situations where a trainer is acting as an agent and does not own the horse in question.

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                          • #33
                            I was at a barn in the past where the owner picked up OTTBs for free. She would then corner kids when their parents weren't around and tell the kid that she got a particular horse "just for you". Lesson kids, inexperienced parents, pressured into buying an OTTB with no additional training for 5 grand. That was awesome.

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                            • #34
                              Threads like this make me thankful for my trainer.

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                Originally posted by gabby.gator View Post
                                when we first entered "the horsey world" we definitely got taken advantage of, but learned our lessons quickly. now I won't look at a horse just by word of mouth. I find advertised horses then bring trainer into the equation. that way, I know what the asking price is, at least to start.
                                I do know of a trainer who just bought a horse at an auction for $325 and two days later was going to market him for $7500 to "those crazy eventers who'll dish out the dough".....

                                I don't have a problem with a trainer BUYING a horse and then upselling it, though most of my evenbting friends are far more frugal than my hunter friends. At least they own the horse, and take thus taking on responsibility for it. If they see a diamond in the rough at auction or a rescue or some backyard barn they are within their right to buy it, clean it up and market it for what they think they can get. I disagree with those who see the horse, don't buy it, have no skin in the game yet find a way to "broker" it for possibly thousands in commissions.
                                The buyer still has to do his homework, which is hard because they are often stuck relying on the trainer for advice only to find the trainer has interest in $$$ at heart as a priority over the proper treatment of the client. Best advice to the client is find out exactly who the seller is. If no one seems to be able to tell you who is really selling the horse, then there is a problem. Dealing with horses that are advertised someplace is the best way to get a handle on "price" but most horses never turn up on the web or advertised publicly.
                                F O.B
                                Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
                                Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique

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                                • #36
                                  I will say in my opinion that it is nobodys buissness what a horse was purchased for before they looked at it. I hear it all the time. But the trainer got the horse for free, the trainer only paid x, etc and that since they got it free or cheap that they shouldn't ask that much. Sorry nope. As a trainer who buys and sells I am the one taking the risk on buying that horse that needs work, needs feet done, dental done, put all the training into it so if I want to ask $10,000 for a pony I paid $1,000 for that is my decision and right as the owner. I always have people asking how much I paid for my horses and ponies. My response is always the same "Less then what they were worth but more then I could afford" and that seems to always work.

                                  Sorry, people complaining about how the horses were cheap or free or gotten at an auction so they should be priced less always gets my hackles raised.

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                                  • #37
                                    Addison, I was just addressing some of the other statements.
                                    I have certainly seen crazy things and I will say the most unscrupulous sellers I have encountered were the non pro owners.
                                    www.ncsporthorse.com

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      For any purchases that are more than a "chance" (ie - show horses, kid horses, etc -- not, I'm picking this OTTB up for $500 to put 60 days on it and see what I can make), I don't see why people don't outline everything in a contract and have both parties sign (and notarize) it.

                                      It seems fairly simple to me, and would most likely cut down on the fraud -- Selling "Horse" described as X, for $$, with commission of X to be paid by Party A in the amount of $$. Signed by both. Notarized to prevent fraudulent trainers from forging signatures in the even the buyer/seller never meet.

                                      I mean, someone determined could still easily muck it up, but I think it'd be a nice red flag if a trainer was unwilling to draw a simple contract up.
                                      Veni vidi vici. With a paint pony, nonetheless.

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                                      • #39
                                        I only know the usual horror stories, like horse was perfect when they tried it but turned into a basketcase a week later; and a couple of the inflated trainer decides to sell horse for double or triple what they told the owner but trainer and buyer's trainer just keep the little secret all to themselves type of arrangement. My question is why on earth are so many sellers and buyers so willing to go into a sale or purchase of a horse without any apparent involvement (read: conversation) about it. Buyers and sellers should discuss the sale/purchase price after all it's THEIR money, not the trainers or the agents. NOW, if a seller turns to an agent to sell a horse on their behalf then they need a good solid contract stating who gets paid, who will get paid or how much total commission I would be willing to shell out. I mean I would not be giving every tom dick and harry 10-15% commission because they mentioned my horse's name.

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                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by gabby.gator View Post
                                          I do know of a trainer who just bought a horse at an auction for $325 and two days later was going to market him for $7500 to "those crazy eventers who'll dish out the dough".....
                                          I don't really see anything wrong with this. I was actually at a barn where a similar thing happened, but the horse was worth the money.
                                          The BO/trainer purchased a horse at auction for more than $325 but still a cheap price for what the horse seemed to be, a good quiet gelding of good size that rode well outside the auction grounds, with changes. The owners said they had bought the horse from a H/J barn, but he had started cribbing and they didn't want a cribbing horse. After we had the horses papers, I called the barn that owned the horse previously to ask about him. The trainer said that the horse hadn't cribbed at her barn, but she had sold him on because he was spooky over jumps 3' or higher in an indoor arena, so he wasn't going to work for what she wanted. The barn I was at was an event barn, so that was not really a big issue for them.
                                          The trainer at the new barn rode the horse and took him out to school XC at a CCI*/** facility, where he jumped everything he was pointed at, then sold him on for several thousands more than she paid. He was a good horse though and worth it. If you ask me, the girl who bought him, and took him training level within a few weeks, placing 4th in their first event, got a deal. FWIW, the horse never cribbed at our barn.
                                          Rhode Islands are red;
                                          North Hollands are blue.
                                          Sorry my thoroughbreds
                                          Stomped on your roo. Originally Posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' :

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