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Dilemma: Need your advice about taking a horse on trial

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  • Dilemma: Need your advice about taking a horse on trial

    Here's the story:

    I finally found a nice horse for myself. I hope to eventuallydo some low level eventing with him, but I've only ridden him in the ring so far. I would like to take him home on trial, but the barn responsible for selling the horse (on consignment) has a limit on the trial time--5 days.

    I can do one of two things:

    1) Have horse vetted out at the consignment barn, and if all goes well, take him on trial. This requires a 10% deposit on an agreed upon purchase price. Deposit is not refundable.

    2) Take the horse home on trial, have him vetted out while he's with me. Again, requires a 10% deposit, but the only way I can have my deposit refunded is if the horse "fails" his PPE.

    What do you think of these options and which would you recommend.

    I plan to hack the horse out a lot, and am told he trail rides well, but I really only trust what the horse tells me, not what people tell me. (I've been shopping for a while now ).

    Advice? Opinions?
    Last edited by grabmaneandgo; May. 13, 2010, 03:41 PM.

  • #2
    I think it is 6 or 1/2 dozen.

    The way I am reading it is that for option 1 you know that the horse has "passed" the vet or that whatever issues he has you can live with and you already have agreed on the price. The 10% is non-refundable if you don't like him after the 5 day trial. This option appears that you can get 5 days of real riding in.

    Option 2 is you get to vet him during the 5 day trial period. You may sorta lose the day of the vetting so that you don't get a good ride in depending on how long you need to wait for the vet to show and how long the vetting takes. You haven't set a price and if he passes the vetting but you don't click with him and return him it sounds like you could still be out the 10% deposit.
    With Option 2 I guess that if you don't like him you hope that the vet finds something that you can claim you can't live with so you can get your 10% back.
    One advantage to option 2 is that you could decide after a day or two you don't like him so you return him without vetting him and only loose the 10% rather than the 10% and the vet fees.

    I am assuming (yes I know that is dangerous) that in either case if you decide you don't like the horse as a possible eventer then you still don't get the 10% deposit back.
    Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)


    • Original Poster

      So, the only way I can get my deposit back is with OPTION 2-- if the horse fails his PPE at my place.


      • #4
        Originally posted by grabmaneandgo View Post
        So, the only way I can get my deposit back is with OPTION 2-- if the horse fails his PPE at my place.
        Apparently so, but why would they ask for the deposit first in Option #1? If the horse failed the PPE at the barn, there would be no need for you to take it on trial anyway!
        Proud owner of a Slaughter-Bound TB from a feedlot, and her surprise baby...!


        • #5
          If you are OK with the 10% possibly being lost for the chance to hack him on your turf, I would take him home and ride him for the first few days. If there are any red flags, then you are not out the money for the vet. If you really like him, then get him vetted and go from there. Is he very far away? Will you lose much time with the hauling?
          "The sea was angry that day, my friends - like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli"


          • Original Poster

            jenm, you're sort of right about the first option. If he passed the PPE at the consignment barn and I pay the 10% to take him on trial and proves to be a nutcase (albeit a sound one), then I'm out about $700, plus shipping (he's over an hour away) plus what I paid for his PPE. That could be close to $2000. If he fails the PPE at consignment barn, then I'm only out the fees for the PPE.

            There's also the chance he won't exactly "pass" a PPE. My vet might find something imperfect, even at 8 years old. So the question is, do I do the PPE first, then bring him home and decide if his temperament is worth the risk of whatever is found during his PPE, OR do I decide on temperament first, then soundness?


            • #7
              I would talk to the seller about an Option #3: Have another ride on the horse, this time on trails. Are there any outside-the-ring options at the seller's property? Will the seller haul the horse somewhere for you to give him a try on trails (it would be nice to offer to buy a tank of gas for the hauler)?
              Equinox Equine Massage

              In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me invincible summer.
              -Albert Camus


              • #8
                Option 2

                I think the thing that Option 2 gives you that Option 1 does not is the opportunity to ride the horse several more times at home before actually doing the PPE. If the PPE is the most expensive part of the equation, this gives you the option of not doing it if you decide the horse is not for you after riding it at home.


                • #9
                  I personally would go for option #2, that way it is your home vet that knows what you can and can't live with. As for the trial part I am not someone that takes horses on trial or allows my sales horses out, so really can't say which way would benefit you more. I just know I always prefer my home vet to do the vetting.


                  • #10
                    I don't quite understand the difference between these two options--doesn't really make sense to me about the deposit....

                    My concern would be about what my liability would be if something should happen to the horse while it's in my custody--that doesn't seem to be addressed here.... What if the horse drops dead (from nothing you've done)--are you liable and for how much????

                    Make sure every little thing is in writing in an agreement! I would insist on putting the downpayment with a disinterested third party to make sure there was no problem with getting it back if the horse failed the PPE. Jaded??? Perhaps, but I've read enough failed horse deals on COTH over the years and am trying to figure all the angles.....
                    Have we learned nothing from the Romans???


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by coloredhorse View Post
                      I would talk to the seller about an Option #3: Have another ride on the horse, this time on trails. Are there any outside-the-ring options at the seller's property? Will the seller haul the horse somewhere for you to give him a try on trails (it would be nice to offer to buy a tank of gas for the hauler)?
                      This is a good idea.
                      Proud owner of a Slaughter-Bound TB from a feedlot, and her surprise baby...!


                      • #12
                        Curious about option #1. Sounds like the better deal for you, but risky for the seller...what if the horse fails the PPE, but it is difficult to determine if it is something old or something new? Horses are more likely to hurt themselves somewhere new...so what if horsie does something stupid, but not career ending, and you can't really do a PPE in that first week? Would that week of being with horsie perhaps cloud your judgement when it comes to the PPE because you have bonded with horsie?

                        I guess I would try the horse out again, and get at least a minimal check before taking it home (check for heart murmur, lungs, basic flexions), and just leave the xrays for later if you so choose.

                        I hope this horse works out for you....horse shopping can be so painful!
                        Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by coloredhorse View Post
                          I would talk to the seller about an Option #3: Have another ride on the horse, this time on trails. Are there any outside-the-ring options at the seller's property? Will the seller haul the horse somewhere for you to give him a try on trails (it would be nice to offer to buy a tank of gas for the hauler)?
                          This! No trials off property, it is a huge liability for you.
                          "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


                          • #14
                            Second (third?) the idea of the seller hauling the horse somewhere for you to actually trail ride it, if there aren't any adjacent to the barn.

                            Whenever I had a horse for sale, I did not allow trials, but I always offered to take the horse to a different location to be tried (a show, a place with acreage), so the buyer could try the horse in a new setting and see exactly what they were getting. I think this is more enlightening as to what the horse is and how he and you will work together, than any trial would be. Also, you wouldn't be out the 10% deposit.
                            In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
                            A life lived by example, done too soon.


                            • #15
                              I would go for vetting the horse with your home vet while he's on trial with you. As others have said you can see how he goes with you in your environment before you pay for vetting. I would also look into insuring this horse for his purchase price even if the sale's barn doesn't insist on this. It can be easily done. You insure the horse for the agreed purchase price, list his current owner and give the insurance company a copy of your sales/trial agreement.
                              With either option you are going to be out money if the horse either fails the PPE or his temperament isn't what you thought. So which one will you gamble on? With him being 8 yrs I would gamble that he'll most likely pass the PPE and its his temperament that I'd want to access so I'd be taking him home to do the PPE while on trial.
                              Last edited by Marengo; May. 13, 2010, 09:28 PM.


                              • #16
                                I'd go with the second option so your vet can do the PPE
                                Cascadia- OTTB mare. 04/04-05/10
                                If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever


                                • #17
                                  WITHOUT QUESTION option 2. You can get your deposit back.
                                  Every horse will have some issue discovered on PPE. If he doesn't work out cross country, you can always use that as your excuse for returning him. Horses don't "fail" or "pass" the vet like they used to. The vet points out potential issues and you decide if you can live with them. If he's not good cross-country, then you cannot live with this horse's issues as found on PPE. The seller doesn't have to know the real reason.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Great advice all around. Thank you.

                                    I am going to go for option 2. He seems to be a healthy, well-adjusted young-ish horse, so the risk is more about how he behaves outside his current environment. More importantly, how he responds to new things and places. The consignment barn does have a small trail loop that goes around their property, but getting back up there for a 5 minute ride around their paddocks just won't be worth it. Getting them to trailer out to a place where we could go for a good gallop (I just want to know if he's rate-able outside the ring) will be very difficult. They're just not that kind of barn.

                                    While I understand that a seller wouldn't want any horse to go on trial off property, it's a deal breaker for me. I need to know first-hand how the horse will behave in my environment. Plus, I told the horse's owner personally that she is welcome to come and visit my barn before sending the horse out on trial. I have also offered to provide references from vets, fellow boarders past and present, trainers, etc.

                                    I agree to most of their terms, but may throw in a few protective ones of my own, such as if the horse proves to be a clear danger under saddle or on the ground I should at least get a portion of my deposit back. Hopefully they will agree to meet me half way. We are, after all, both looking for the same thing; to find this horse a great new home.

                                    Your advice is so welcome. I really do appreciate it!


                                    • Original Poster

                                      And I'm going to shoot for short-term insurance to reduce that liability risk!


                                      • #20
                                        I think I would really try to determine if I wanted the horse at the sale barn and make sure he goes correctly there, then get him vetted with my own chosen vet at the sale barn and just buy him if all went well. If you want to accept a 5 day trial at that point, its to your advantage, but make sure you are covered, because if his return is contingent upon what's wrong with him, you are going to have to prove that he had that problem before you got him and that you didn't bring it on.
                                        Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.