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Keep the Fun in Horse Shopping

By Sarah Smit


sually the only worry I have when we take clients on one of our horse-buying trips to Holland is if they’ll get lost on a night out in Amsterdam! Sometimes, how- ever, I feel more like a therapist than like an agent selling Warmbloods whether here in the U.S. or abroad.

Most of you have bought a horse at one point and I guess we all agree that it should be a very exciting and fun experience…and for most of us it is. For some peo- ple, though, it isn’t. For them, it is nerve wracking and agonizing and leaves them either in a worse relationship with their trainer or with lower self esteem. Over the years, I have seen several cases where the buyer would have had a lot more fun in her horse shopping experience if she had prepared herself dif- ferently.

Let me tell you about Molly. About a year ago, Molly called us. She was going to shop with her trainer in Germany for a super talented and expe- rienced FEI schoolmaster and asked us if we could show her horses in Holland as well. We collected all her information

“Sometimes the trainer’s most important role is to keep you realistic about the compatibility between high hopes and real life.”

and made the appointments but soon found out that her trainer had his own agenda. Not only did he make her pay for the trip for his whole family, but he refused to help her with the horses she found on her own. (On one occasion he even refused to get out of the car.) In the end, he pressured her to buy a green six year old that required years of professional training to get to the level she wanted to be with her horse. Needless to say she was totally disillusioned with horse shopping – and with her trainer!

Luckily, we usually see trainers who know exactly what their client needs and who have their client’s best inter- est as their first priority. To avoid any conflict with your trainer on a horse shopping trip, why not set up a couple of meetings in which you discuss exactly what your dreams and expectations are and what you think your trainer’s role should be? The two of you should be “on the same page” whether you buy a horse to ride and have fun with or for your trainer to train and show. This is also a good time to discuss a commission with your trainer. If you are not comfortable talking to your trainer about these things, maybe you are not ready yet to enjoy a horse shopping experience.


As a European, I strongly agree with the need for a train- er’s help and advice in finding the most suitable horse. Sometimes the trainer’s most important role is to keep you realistic about the compatibility between high hopes and real life. I do find it hard to accept, however, that often there is a large commission involved without any visible service to the client. (Sometimes it is not more than saying “yes, I like the horse in this video.”) I know that here in the United States everything equine related is extremely expensive, from vets to shows to shavings; not only for horse owners but also for trainers. But shouldn’t trainers focus on training people so that they become happier and better riders? In Molly’s somewhat extreme case, the trainer not only made a lot of money by having his client buy a horse from his own friend (with extra money in commission on the seller’s end) but he also got her a horse that needed a significant amount of his training. The result was a very unhappy client!

This trainer-client relationship has become one of my pet peeves over the years, espe-

cially since I moved to the U.S. four years ago. It is very different from what I am accustomed to in Europe. I must say that it affects the amateur dressage (or hunter) lady more than the average (amateur) show jumper. Some people seem so dependent on their trainer it is as if they forgot to think and do things for themselves! I some- times get the feeling that this makes the rider even more insecure and that they have a harder time mastering basic horsemanship skills as a result. It also makes the whole riding experience extra expensive: a huge coaching fee for shows, for example; not being able to board somewhere without taking two lessons a week from the resident trainer (plus one “pro ride”); and, of course, get- ting ten percent for merely looking at two videos in the buying process.

Please don’t misunderstand: I think there are scores of marvelous trainers out there who work hard, keep their client’s best interests in mind and who really deserve that commission for all the work that they have done. They truly participate in the search, shopping and the decision making process investing their time and knowledge.

When we see one of these perfect joint trainer-client buying efforts they make us so happy! A good example is Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76
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