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Have you bought a horse from your coach? How did that go?

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  • Have you bought a horse from your coach? How did that go?

    Curious if anyone has bought a horse from their coach, or from someone at their barn through their coach. Wondering how that went to ensure transparency and making sure everyone's interests were met.

    For example, if you bought from your coach...someone you would normally turn to to help decide valuation of a purchase, how did you come up with an agreed price? Same with vet check...if you would normally go with your coach's advice as to how hard to vet check a horse, what do you do for advice if it is the coach's horse?

    Any good stories? Any horror stories?

    Is this something you think is good (as you would likely know the horse) or something to avoid (too hard to be sure of everyone's objectivity)?
    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

  • #2
    I bought a yearling from my trainer. She bred every year for one foal. I had boarded and worked a few afternoons a week for her doing barn work for greater than five years. I knew the foal since it hit the ground. She told me what she would like to get for the foal and I paid it because we were familiar with other horses by the sire(she had several others in the barn that were in training) and I liked the dam. She advised me on the prepurchase, which we mainly just did a general health check-eyes, heart, lungs, physical appearance. The vet watched the filly move. We did not do xrays as she had not had any problems since she had been born and the vet did not notice any gait problems while observing her. It was one of the best purchases I have made and still have the mare 18 years later.


    • #3
      I'd be ok with it, as long as I was with a trainer I trusted. I'd actually prefer having the time to see what they're like on a day to day basis, especially about things like how he spooks, how well does he travel, does he settle right in at shows etc. Plus a good (honest) trainer should be able to tell if you'd be a personality match or not, know your goals and limits, and know the capabilites of the animal in queston.


      • #4
        My OTTB was sold to a younger girl at my barn through my coach. My trainer mentioned the idea originally and I basically acted as a private seller. When the parents of the girl became seriously interested, they talked to my trainer about whether he would be suitable.

        As far as price and vet check, I set my own price for my horse. I looked around at other comparable horses and set my price based off of that. I know for a fact my trainer thought it was high, but in the end we found a price point that both me and the buyer were comfortable with. Buyers also decided not to vet check, since they had been at the barn for the past year there horse was there and was very familiar with it, so that was one hurdle that was avoided.

        I think a big part of it is how much you can trust your trainer. If you don't feel like you trust them enough to be honest on both sides, I wouldn't trust them enough to buy/sell a horse through them.


        • #5
          I'd consider having seen the horse day in, day out for a while a huge advantage.

          After that, I'd explain to my trainer that I'd like to do some things independently: Pick a vet for the PPE, pay the seller directly and all. I'd explain that I wanted to do this because I was well aware of the trainer's conflict of interest and I wanted to make sure that, should anything go wrong later, I can be sure that *I* and no one else chose to buy the horse.

          I think the "buyer pays seller directly" should be SOP. I can't imagine working with a trainer who didn't want transparency between buyer and seller about the price paid. Also, by the time I was going to buy a horse from a trainer who knew me none of my "I like you and I'm also a hard-a##" would be a surprise. If it had been a problem, we wouldn't ever have gotten to the point of me buying a horse from them.
          The armchair saddler
          Politically Pro-Cat


          • #6
            I've bought two from a trainer and both sales went well. I liked how I knew the horses and rode them a bunch before I bought them. I didn't plan to buy them but after a couple rides I liked them so much I just had to. Also I didn't vet them as both horses were always sound while in their barns for several months and still are to this day. I've owned 5 horses and all were by word of mouth from a trainer I had or 2 directly from them.


            • #7
              Hmmm... that's a hard question. I suppose it depends on how well you know your coach's ethics and how naive you are. I was ripped off by a coach in the past so I am super careful now. Always get someone else's opinion and always use a vet outside of your coach's vet. Insist on a bill of sale disclosing the commissions. The sleaziest deals to me are when the coach just acquired a horse not long ago and wants to resell it to you. This just happened to a friend of mine and she is much too naive to know she got royally ripped. She trusts he trainer 100% but the trainer is quite well known as a wheeler dealer. Best of luck.

              If its a circumstance where you've seen the horse go day in and day out for a long time and seen the good the bad and the ugly then I consider that a much safer buy. You should know for yourself what the horse is worth to you then. I just had another friend buy a gp horse this way and it worked out amazingly well.
              Last edited by equisusan; Jun. 6, 2013, 08:32 AM. Reason: Added a bit more
              You don't scare me. I ride a MARE!


              • #8
                I bought my horse through my trainer. I trust her with my life and there wasn't even a question about that. I also used her vet because I think he is one of the best and is the most honest person I've had the pleasure of dealing with.

                Obviously my mare didn't work out for what we intended for her originally but I think I got a darn good horse out of it!!
                Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!


                • #9
                  I bought from my trainer. Had 2 other horses at the time so wasn't even looking. Trainer had imported Horse about 8 years prior & sold to a client in his barn so he knows him quite well. Owner was absentee so I had been hacking horse for several months & asked if I could show at upcoming shows (very nice experienced fun horse). Trainer said yes & that would also be opportunity for horse to be seen (hadn't shown in 2 years)...everybody is happy. Week 1 goes fine & trainer getting interest in horse. Week 2 I win a class & my mom (who had originally said no to this horse before) says "oh we have to keep him now" so I approach trainer. To be honest trainer even said "do you really want another horse right now?". But my trainer was very upfront about the horse, his history (I had only been with trainer 3 years at the time), anything I wanted to know. Horse was older so I did a basic PPE/health exam after the horse show, spoke to my vets & bought him the next day. I think I got a good price cause the horse was older, stayed in barn & more $$ was made on my lessons/showing. Horse has been everything trainer ever said & it was a great sale for us. He's probably a lifer with me.

                  I was quite lucky...I had hacked the horse a bit, knew him for a few years & the owner was totally out of the picture--hadn't been at the barn in over a year. I paid my trainer direct cause the owner owed quite a bit of $$$ to various people (barn, shoer) & trainer made sure those parties were paid. I think if you buy in barn from a more involved owner there could be some issues with letting go/acknowledging the new ownership, but I assume a good trainer would handle those issues.
                  "I'm not crazy...my mother had me tested"


                  • #10
                    I think in addition to liking and trusting your trainer, an important component would be to listen to the gossip/chatter at your barn as it relates to recent horses sold by said trainer. Years as a show mom with my ears and eyes open have been very educational in this respect. You may have an excellent coach who truly helps you with your riding goals but the same coach could have a business model which does not lend itself to finding you a reasonably priced horse. You could also have a trainer that excels at finding reasonably priced quality horses but cannot help you learn to ride them. DD has a very nice horse who we were lucky to buy at a reasonable price however I am very aware that had that horse been standing at her current trainer's barn it would have easily been sold for 3 times what we paid. I know for a fact that the $ we spent would buy us at best a teenage school horse at the current trainer's barn. I did expect the prices to be higher for comparable horses because the current trainer runs a more established business, closer to the big league barns, etc., however I was not prepared for the sticker shock I received when I inadvertently overheard discussions regarding the prices being asked for horses that I could see with my own eyes were in no way comparable to DD horse. My initial reaction was horror that the trainer could justify the price tag, then sadness that a young rider ended up leaving the barn when her parents wisely felt they were getting ripped off, and finally shock when said horse actually sold at that price to someone else. This coupled with a few other experiences over the years has actually led to me say aloud, "in a way it's almost better to at least start this sport with limited means - you are less of an easy target."


                    • #11
                      My first horse, Eclipse, was bought from my trainer. It went amazingly well. I got to lease her for a year before I made my decision and knew exactly what price they were asking for her and negotiated a lower price for myself. Still, on the advise of trainer, did a full PPE and we as buyers are present for this (just as we are if we vet an out of barn horse). Owned her for 10 yrs and then trainer helped me sell her and took NO commission.

                      Horse before this one, was originally at my trainers barn to be sold on behalf of Spruce Meadows. I rode her and loved her but sadly did not get my other horse sold in time. Horse sold out of barn and a year later I ended up buying her. This one sadly, did not work out but my trainer helped me with a trade that otherwise would of been impossible as she "felt responsible" for how it ended.

                      Current horse: baby, trainer brokered the deal with horse that wasn't working out and picked the baby I have now. LOVE him and I'm pretty certain he's my "forever" horse.

                      Honest trainers are honest sellers and mine is as transparent as they come and llikes buyers and sellers to speak and meet with each other. Cheques to seller are sent by the buyer so we know what we are paying is the amount actually being asked for!
                      Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don't Do It!


                      • #12
                        I bought my guy from my trainer.

                        Loved him from the moment he arrived at the barn - 3 years later, I was just starting lessons (dressage) and rode him (the mare I owned at the time had no interest in dressage) told my trainer after being mounted for 5 minutes that he was mine.

                        Sold my mare in two weeks and purchased him. Got a great deal because he would be staying there and they know what kind of owner I am.

                        Didn't bother with a PPE because I'd known him for 3 years and he'd had no issues.

                        The only issue I've ever had is that sometimes my trainer forgets he is mine! That's not always a bad thing though . . .

                        "I am still under the impression that there is nothing alive quite so beautiful as a thoroughbred horse." -- John Galsworthy


                        • #13
                          I bought my mare from my trainer. At the time she was green & bitchy, definitely not what my trainer would have considered a perfect match. I did some web research and found out the appropriate ballpark for price.

                          I got a list of vet options from my trainer for the PPE- the ones where she knew their work and would trust them with a client's horse, not just the de facto barn vet. I chose the specific vet. I was there for the exam and had him walk me through the how & why of everything he looked at. It worked out great as the mare has grown into the barn saint and done more than anyone (but her proud mommy) thought she'd be able to.

                          Spend time up front researching the trainer you're going to trust with your/your child's safety. Watch them at home and at shows working with their students. Talk to the show parents. See what kind of culture they support at their barn. If you trust them to keep you safe, help you learn and make the barn a place you want to be (i.e. no drama) then you can be more confident when it comes to purchasing a horse.


                          • #14
                            I got royally screwed over

                            It was actually her clients horse, but I don't think they had any idea what went on, and still don't, and I would never fault them, we both trusted her.

                            When i got him, I was told he was mine to do what I wanted with; lease/sell/keep, all I had to do was sign a release for the original owners (prominent racehorse owners.) 2 years later I went to move barns, and was told I had to buy him for $2000... After I had done all his vet/training/board/supplements/etc., and he was NOT worth $2000, he had lameness issues. I was told I had a week to buy him or she was giving him away to a friend, I had been with this horse for SIX years now, as his exercise rider and then his "owner". I cried, a lot, so my then boyfriend/now husband talked her down to $900 and my family somehow came up with the money, and we bought him. I had been with this trainer since I was a kid, so it made it all worse. I moved barns shortly after that.

                            Have EVERYTHING in writing, don't trust just because it's your coach/friend/whoever.


                            • #15
                              The only word of warning I have from my experience is to not let sentiment into the deal and to really, really, really listen to your gut feelings. I dumbly ignored my gut, but on the flip side, I did learn a valuable lesson.


                              • #16
                                I bought my mare through my coach. Coach was free leasing mare from her owner. I part-leased mare from my coach and took lessons on mare for a few months before buying her.

                                For me it was ideal because I already knew mare and I "clicked." I was actually the one who approached my coach and told her if her owner was ever interested in selling, that I would be interested in buying.

                                Price was negotiated between coach, myself and owner. In the end the sale was between just me and the owner, and coach got commission. I got bill of sale and mare's papers to ensure it was all done right and in writing.

                                A number of horses were actually sold to my coach's students this way. All happy endings from what I know.


                                • #17
                                  I bought my pony from my trainer. It was a great arrangement. My trainer had bought the pony while she was green, and so I got to see her around the barn for a while while she was trained. Also, since my trainer was the one schooling her, I knew she would have good habits. Once the pony was ready to be sold, my trainer gave me first shot to buy her since she knew I liked her a lot. I had ridden her a few times, and gotten along with her really well, and she was around for a while so I knew she had no vices. I owned the pony for some time, and adored her. When I sold her to buy my horse, she stayed in the barn when a younger kid bought her because everyone loved her so much! She has stayed in the barn for multiple owners now, and I have to say that the pony was one of the best purchases I ever made! No regrets, for me, or the people who have owned her since! So I would have to say that buying from my trainer was an excellent situation!


                                  • #18
                                    Hate to say this but - it depends. I think if it is a situation where you know the horse well it can work out wonderfully; but I've also heard of situations where a trainer might have a horse to sell in their barn and the bottom line is to just sell the horse and too bad for the client.


                                    • #19
                                      My parents bought my horse from my trainer when I was 12. 13 years later, I still have him. She actually gave us a deal on the purchase price because she wanted to keep him in the barn. He turned out to be the best children's jumper, junior jumper, junior hunter, a/o hunter, school horse, and trail horse ever. I don't regret a thing.
                                      Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
                                      My equine soulmate
                                      Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Interesting answers. Actually a little surprised by all the positives and the skipping the PPE, but maybe price point was part of it?

                                        I know at prior barn I used to work for, clients sold horses between themselves with trainer as broker, but not often sold horse directly from trainer to client...and when it did happen it seemed to be more that the client wanted to curry favour with the trainer rather than really make a logical decision if that makes sense.

                                        Just hearing a few stories about people who bought from trainer and now have a question in their mind now that the sale is done and issues came up down the road...not obviously sketchy, just leaves lingering doubt. Seems risky from the trainer's perspective particularly when dealing with novice owners who can't represent themselves.
                                        Freeing worms from cans everywhere!