When I take a horse into training I am not only being paid to ride and train the horse, I feel that it is my job to also evaluate the horse to see if it is going to meet the needs and wants of the owner. For many I am training the horse for them to take to the show pen themselves. For some it is a business and for others it is for the competition and the want to win and excel in a sport.
Taking into consideration the wants and desires of the owners, it is my job to see if the horse that they have chosen has what it takes to meet the goals of the owner. Whether it is the competitor or the one who wants to show and have fun, many of the criteria are the same. The one deciding factor is the horses ability to do it well or excel in his sport. The one thing that does not work for either is a horse that has the ability but lacks the desire to please or the want to do the event that we have chosen for it. If I reach this point in the horses training that I have decided that the horse lacks the want, desire, or ability it is my job to inform the owner that they have a decision to make. Either you change your discipline or you change horses.
This can be a difficult and hard decision for an owner to make. Compounded by the fact that I usually recommend that at this time you cut your losses. Which means make the horse a quick sell which usually means sell it for a loss. It is in your best interest to cut down the price now and take a loss and move on rather than stretch it out and cause a greater loss in the future. Believe me, I don’t like to be the one that tells you that you are going to take a loss on your investment or that you are not going to make as much money on this horse as you thought, but someone has to stop the bleeding.
Let me take a minute and make an example. If you have a horse that you have put 6 months into training and the horse is not going to work out. You have decided that I am right and we need to sell but you have invested 6 months at $800 which comes out to $4,800 and you purchased the horse for $3,000, so you want to sell the horse for $7,000, even though the horse is not working out. You are wanting someone else to purchase a horse at 7K that has some obvious issues to work out and still needs quite a bit more training even if their weren’t issues.
It is at this time that I recommend that you fold’em and not invest more into a loosing proposition. It is not what many want to hear but it is the best thing for most. Lets say that you are stuck on selling for 7K when I recommend that you sell for 5K now and move on. You are going to have to continue to train this horse in order for it to hold its value and if it has some undesirables they are not going to sell fast. Lets say that it takes only two months and it sells for 7K. You have spend another $1,300 in training and another $75 in shoeing along with a commission to the trainer of 700 dollars. You have come out even and have lost two months worth of time that you could have spent looking for another prospect and getting back on track with your goals.
Let me take a minute and address the issue of commissions on horses, cause it is a bone of contention with some. It is common practice in the horse industry that there is a 10% commission on horses that are bought and sold through trainers. I get asked at times why is it that I have to pay you a commission to sell my horse when I pay you each month to train my horse. That is because you pay me each month to train your horse. When it comes to purchasing a horse for one of my clients or sell a horse for one of my clients the commission covers my expenses along with the use of my good name and my good judgment along with the use of my contacts. Not to mention my ability to make the horse look his best when being shown to a possible buyer. You would not ask for your Realtor to forgo a commission on the sale of your house nor would you expect for the car salesman to not get paid for the work he does for the dealership. Sorry I will get off my soap box.
There are two things that go through my mind when choosing a horse for someone. If it were my horse would I mind owning him or her for a long time. And the other is does this horse make me excited to ride. If I have a horse in training that makes me want to ride and that likes what I am doing as much as I do, then I know that I want to hold. It is the same thing that we all want and that is a horse that is a willing partner in the games that we play.
It is also important to not rush to a judgment on young horses and give them a chance to prove themselves. Not all horses show you their talent in just 6 months. Some take some time to develop. It is my job to bring it out and see that talent sometimes before it surfaces. There is also a benefit to having ridden a lot of horses cause some of the bad ones teach you just as much as the good ones. The good ones are easy it is having ridden some of the tricky ones that make you think that you can get that something extra out of them that just never surfaces. Those are the ones that teach you what you don’t want. Sometimes that is more important to know than the other. Mostly cause you don’t want to go down that road again.
I had a good friend in the horse business tell me once a saying that has stuck with me and at times I repeat it to myself when looking at horses. I would rather want something I don’t have than to have something I don’t want. And that about sums it up.