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What to do with client and sales horse?

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  • What to do with client and sales horse?

    On my phone, so I'm apologizing in advance for typos.

    So I inherited this boarder client from the previous trainer who ran the barn I'm at currently. Long/short -- client bought this horse through the trainer for low 5 figures despite the fact that horse failed the vetting (undiagnosed issue with neck -- possibly neurologic). Client now wants to sell the horse, and I'm at a loss as to how to tell her I think she has completely unrealistic expectations about the value of the horse. I feel terrible for her because I think the previous trainer really scammed her on this horse. Frankly, I think this is a giveaway situation, especially considering that she never really figured out what's wrong with the neck (farm vet doesn't have the equipment to explore further, and client never took the horse to a larger hospital for further imaging, etc.).

    So the horse....
    7-9 y/o registered warmblood with good lines (jumper bred out of a "real" warmblood breed)
    Super safe -- can be safely ridden without lunging after sitting for months
    Fairly handsome looking boy
    Super easy keeper with great feet

    Obvious problem with the neck -- can't bend at all the one side, or lift it beyond a fairly horizontal frame. So definitely not a dressage candidate (what I do), nor do I think he's safe to jump either with a neck issue. I'm certainly not jumping him like this...
    ​​​​Also, client probably won't be open to getting further diagnostic work done.
    No specialized training -- basic w/t/c and low jumping with previous trainer (Hunter/jumper) years ago. He may have a baby "hunter" change started.
    Very difficult to catch if not in small private paddock.

    So yeah.... I wouldn't let a client of mine buy him. And I frankly don't think he's worth anything.... So I need help figuring out a marketable direction for this guy and a price (maybe someone here sees something I'm not?). And then how to break it to the client. Honestly, she's going to spend more money putting him in training with me than she's going to get in a sale. I've got a good working student who is interested in trying her hand at sales. Would it be unethical for me to have the client and her work out a deal to have her sell him -- maybe higher commission but not training fees? Although a higher percentage of 0 is still 0....

    I just feel terrible because she bought this guy from this barn, albeit, not with me. The client is such a nice lady, and I want to do right by her and the horse. Help!

  • Original Poster

    Also, she wants to add her expensive custom jump saddle into the mix to sweeten the deal, but I think she'd make more money overall to sell it separately. What do you think?


    • #3
      I think this is a giveaway situation. The best she could hope for is someone with big enough pockets that they would take the horse as a gamble, and pay for the proper diagnostics to figure out what is going on with the neck. JMHO


      • #4
        Sell separately.

        his bloodlines mean nothing since he can't be bred and won't vet.

        she can spend money getting a diagnosis that may involves sending him somewhere that does have equipment.

        without a diagnosis it is hard to say if he's even a candidate for light and/or trail riding.

        without a diagnosis it's hard to say if this is fixable or manageable.

        if it's not, easy, he's a pts or retiree.
        if is, to what degree? Might be safely useable for up down lessons, 4h, most training level, or local playday type riders, trails, hilltoppings, etc, or completely salvageable; you just won't know without diagnosis.

        I would not involve myself in a sale without diagnosis, or there will be a thread about you tricking someone into taking a lemon following shortly thereafter
        Let me apologize in advance.


        • #5
          Unless you are a veterinarian who diagnosed the horse with a problem - I think you should should just state your concerns that you think there is something off about his neck and you don't feel comfortable helping with the sale. Leave it up to the owner to decide whether she wants to investiage further or have buyers do their own PPE.


          • Original Poster

            Oh dear. I hate confrontation, and telling her I'm not open to working with her could get ugly. To her, she bought the horse through the farm and should be able to sell him through it too.

            This would be so much easier if she hadn't bought the horse through this farm.


            • #7
              just remove your "feeling" from this as this is a business not personal condemnation .

              Tell the boarder the facts of life .... then let them decide


              • #8
                Originally posted by Glyphica View Post
                Oh dear. I hate confrontation, and telling her I'm not open to working with her could get ugly. To her, she bought the horse through the farm and should be able to sell him through it too.

                This would be so much easier if she hadn't bought the horse through this farm.
                You are running a business and work for the farm owner, right? What does your contract state about sales? What does the farm owner think? At the very least, if the prior trainer misrepresented the horse, the farm has exposure to a lawsuit. You need to get the farm owner involved.
                "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."


                • #9
                  Originally posted by clanter View Post
                  just remove your "feeling" from this as this is a business not personal condemnation .

                  Tell the boarder the facts of life .... then let them decide

                  Tell client all the details outlined in your original post.
                  Stop looking for any way to sugarcoat what you - as a Pro - see affecting horse's sellability (is that a word? )
                  There is no benefit for you or the "nice lady" owner if you obfuscate (that IS a word!).
                  You did not misrepresent the horse, not your job to cover for the one who did.
                  *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


                  • Original Poster

                    I just talked to my BO so she knows what's up. My business is legally separated from the barn's. I'm contracted by them, but not employed by them if that makes sense. The involved trainer had the same set up I believe, so the barn shouldn't be an involved party I think.... But if the client seems like she may pull out the lawsuit card, I'll get sith a lawyer asap. Also, barn and I both are fully insured.


                    • #11
                      Owner needs to have a vet at least look at the horse, do a few x-rays and get an "opinion" on what they think the problem is. Selling the horse without an diagnosis kind of leaves the horse and the current owner in a position to put the horse in a bad situation and possibly held liable for horse injuring himself or worse a new owner getting injured because they decided to use the horse contrary to what was said.

                      Without the "right" person, there is no guarantee the horse won't be ridden to accommodate his issues, especially if he is a very ridable horse.

                      Holding the trainer that sold her the horse liable is exactly what may happen to the current owner if she sells the horse to someone else. I assume current owner did not do a PPE on the horse when she bought it?

                      Would the horse be suitable for a lesson program for beginners just learning to ride walk, trot, canter?


                      • #12
                        Poor horsie, I'm afraid he's about to be the loser in this.

                        Just tell owner what you think, and hope for the best for this boy.


                        • #13
                          The easiest way to address this is to suggest to the owner that the horse be seen at a vet hospital to determine what is going on with its neck. Only with that info will it be possible to determine what type of work will be appropriate for this horse.


                          • #14
                            If owner doesn't like what you tell her and/or refuses to get the horse to a vet hospital for a firm diagnosis, perhaps she should go back to the original trainer that sold her the horse in the first place.

                            Sounds like it could be cervical arthritis or some sort of serious neck injury, so horse is likely a giveaway. I took one in 11 years ago with cervical arthritis; they can be expensive to keep comfortable as a pet.


                            • #15
                              You can a horse with no problems and the next day BAM something happens to comprimise the rideabilty of the horse.

                              why she is being to cheap to take the horse for diagnostic testing but yet wants a good price makes no sense. She knows something is wrong but doesn't want to spend money to finding out what. She wants someone else to end up like she did with a horse with issues that could land some in the hospital or worse.

                              Id be surprised that she'd even be able to sell the horse, when a potential buyer comes and sees the limitations and yet doesn't have a diagnosis I'd guess they'd run from the sale.

                              its generous of you to want to help her but in the long run helping her could get you in big dodo bynot disclosing to the potential buyer all that you know.

                              maybe the best you can do is lay it straight out for her, tell her the truth. Tell her he's more like a give away with a liabity release so she doesn't end up in court. It's a sad situation but if she didn't she should have had a vet check done when she bought him. The prior trainer isn't a vet, maybe this happened after she bought him.


                              • Original Poster

                                She had the horse vetted when she bought him, so she knew there was an issue with the neck. Her vet told her she needed further imaging for a definite diagnosis. She bought him despite her vet's opinion to not buy.

                                I wouldn't even consider selling a horse like this without full disclosure. But I think he is a giveaway (seems to be the consensus here), so when I talk to her when she gets back from vacation, I'll break the bad news to her that I think her expectations are unrealistic, and I'm not going to be involved.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Glyphica View Post
                                  I just talked to my BO so she knows what's up. My business is legally separated from the barn's. I'm contracted by them, but not employed by them if that makes sense. The involved trainer had the same set up I believe, so the barn shouldn't be an involved party I think....
                                  if the other trainer was an agent of the Barn Owner and the Barn Owner benefited by the sale of the horse to this person then they are all in the loop, if there is even any grounds for an action since after-all the buyer bought a horse with a known condition. Stupidity as far as I know is not grounds for legation.

                                  But I do not understand just where you fall into the legal loop as you were not a party of the sale or the purchase nor an agent of the barn owner at the time...

                                  maybe G could provide insight


                                  • Original Poster

                                    The trainer made a comission on sale. Barn didn't get any money directly from sale, but did gain a boarder.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Glyphica View Post
                                      The trainer made a comission on sale. Barn didn't get any money directly from sale, but did gain a boarder.
                                      but didn't the buyer know of the condition before the purchase? or are going to say the vet blotched the pre-purchase exam?... nevertheless... how do you think you are in the loop for the mess?


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Originally posted by clanter View Post

                                        but didn't the buyer know of the condition before the purchase? or are going to say the vet blotched the pre-purchase exam?... nevertheless... how do you think you are in the loop for the mess?
                                        The buyer knew, bought anyway. I never thought about be liable for anything when I posted the question. I wanted to know if the situation had a more favorable angle than I was seeing. Early on someone made a comment about letting the barn owner know in case of issues.