Horses are an expensive indulgence. And it does not matter if you purchase a $2,000 or a $200,000 horse, the cost after the purchase is ongoing and can be very expensive. Make sure the upfront purchase is accurate and on target, because you have the ongoing expense after that. Even more important, you may have to sell the horse down the road. Make sure you buy it right. That $2,000 horse for some may be as expensive as the $200,000 horse to another. It is all perspective. Because those of us who are buying or selling the horses are very passionate about them, the transaction can be a very emotional one. And because it is emotional, it is more important then ever to step back, ask questions, proceed with business acumen, trust your instincts, be proud of who you are and do not be afraid to walk away.
There is a game in the horse industry that is played that does not have a name, but I like to call it “The Shame Game”. The Shame Game is a psychological buying and selling game that many trainers and brokers will use on their clients. As part of this game, they will often deploy their barn entourage to assist in entrapping the equine consumer by shaming them along with the trainer, should they have an individual thought, ask a sound judgement question, dig too deep into the horse’s health or show history, want to manage the transaction, question the compatibility, suggest the price is too high or not want to pay that much, and the list goes on. Most of us have experienced this Game, or at least know a friend whose been forced to play. The price of not playing this game and handing all control over to your trainer is to be “Black Balled”at the barn.
There are many reasons The Shame Game is played. After all, what does shame do to a person? Shame informs us of an internal state of inadequacy, dishonor, disconnection, unworthiness or regret. Shame is a clear signal that positive feeling have been interrupted. The Shame Game is a falsely and wrongfully induced social situation that induces a fear of rejection and insecurity and allows manipulation by others to take place. In order to get rid of the shame, you are manipulated into playing the game. You no longer feel good about what you are doing, perhaps even insecure. By shaming you, you are being coerced to hand over control. By handing over control, it is much easier for a trainer or broker that does not have your best interest at heart to take advantage of you. I’m going to tell you something right now. You DON’T have to PLAY the SHAME Game. You are an adult capable of making good decisions when you have the facts. Buying or selling a horse, you have a right to the facts.
When you buy a horse, it is your hard earned money you are using to purchase that horse. You will be responsible for all the expenses such as board, veterinarian, farrier, training, show expenses, shipping, equipment, insurance, to name a few. You may need, or want to, sell the horse down the road. What then? You will be responsible for the selling expenses and you surely hope the horse appreciates or at least stays the same, not dramatically depreciates! There are many reasons a horse depreciates such as age, injury, development of vices, economy, location, lack of showing, physical condition, rideability, and much more. If you overpay for a horse, you may not get the benefit of his appreciation if he ends up being a winner. Think about this, if a horse costs X and there is 15% commission on both the buy and the sell side, there is already a 30% spread on the purchase of the horse. It’s likely the Seller added his commission to his trainer into the sells price and then you pay your trainer his commission. When you go to sell the horse and you are going to have to do the same thing. That is a 60% spread. Now if the trainer is double dipping on the side, you have really way overpaid what the horse is worth and you will never come close to getting your money back. Just one good reason the trainers do not want the Buyer and Seller to talk! Are you getting the picture?
With the internet comes information and with information comes power. It is okay to do your research, become educated and ask questions. Look up their lineage. Find their show record on line. Locate and contact previous owners and even the seller. After all, you may be buying this horse, it’s your money and you have earned the right to all the information you can get to make an informed decision. If you are selling the horse, ask the trainer how they are going to market your horse. Go online and find out what’s available. If they do not want to market the horse online, ask why not? Often trainer’s do not want the price known as it makes it harder to double dip. Request a plan and timeframe. If your trainer is not willing to do that, think of sending the horse to a well-researched and recommended broker that is transparent and will get the job done for you. Do not be afraid to act even if you are being shamed. It’s obvious you are in the wrong place.
Now, having said what I said above, there are some fantastic trainers and brokers in the industry. But if you feel the Shame Game is being played on you, either take charge or walk away and find another trainer. I promise, there is always another horse to buy or sell and another trainer to ride with. Now please hear me, everyone is entitled to earn a living and to get paid for doing a job well done. But the operative words are “Earn” and “Well done”. You would not buy a house and allow a realtor to shame you. You would not conduct your professional life, be successful, and allow yourself to be shamed. It’s okay to ask questions, be involved and to say no. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not. Buying and selling a horse is a joyful time and one that you should be very proud of, not shamed just because someone wants to take advantage of you.