Is My Trainer Blowing Me Off?

I recently became horseless when my trainer moved barns and the gelding I was riding stayed at the original place. It’s not an option to keep on riding that horse, so we decided to look for a horse to buy.

It has been more than 2 months and I’ve only seen her post one ISO on Facebook. She’s also only found one horse to look at (via a response to that ISO), but didn’t have time to see it before it sold. I have found several other possible horses myself, but she is never available to go look with me. My budget is not huge (mid xx,xxx) and I’m not willing to import or travel the country looking, which she says makes it very hard to find a good mount. I’m not looking for a highly trained performance horse, just a solid equine I can do pleasure & trail riding with. On several occasions she has suggested I go to a sales barn and try something myself (without her company) or just buy something off a sales ad without meeting the horse. She says lots of people buy horses from Europe or other areas of the country that way.

A friend thinks this trainer is trying to blow me off so she can focus on clients who want to show and have deeper pockets. However, she has not said anything like this to me. Are my expectations too high given the current horse market and my budget limitations? Is it unreasonable to want to meet a horse before buying it?

I would have expected her to post ISOs on multiple Facebook groups more than once, or at least been able to find a few horses to see given her extensive network. But maybe my expectations are just too high, especially given how busy she is? Would appreciate advice because at this point I haven’t been able to ride in months and it doesn’t look like that will change anytime soon. Trying to find the best way forward.

You are going to get responses here who tell you to run if your trainer is not bowing at your feet and responses that tell you to be more independent, why do you need your trainer for this.
In other words, we have no good way of knowing if your trainer is trying to get you to go away or if your trainer is just not being the most responsive right now.

Here are my thoughts, they are worth what you paid for them - Your trainer just moved barns. That is a huge deal and probably very stressful. They are likely feeling a little overwhelmed right now.

Why not schedule a sit down time to discuss this whole horse buying thing and at that time explain why you are not wanting to shop alone or import. Remind the trainer how much you love riding with them.

Depending on how that conversation goes you can better decide if your trainer is just feeling overwhelmed with life and when things get more settled will be back to the same trainer you had before or they are blowing you off.

I want to add that the horse market right now is very difficult. Very much a sellers market. Your trainer might simply not be having any luck finding something that they think fits what you need.


Pleasure and trail riding doesn’t bring her much income so you probably aren’t high on her list of top ten most favourite people in the whole world. Are there alternative barns available? A different person to help you look? On the other hand, Ive just seen the good advice from trubandloki above.


What are you looking for specifically in terms of horse’s criteria and riding level, and what is “mid xx,xxx”?

To me someone that can afford mid five figures (~50k) on a horse can afford to show, and if I was getting commission on a ~50k sale I’d be moving my feet to find my client a horse. Assuming all else is reasonable in terms of criteria, it really shouldn’t be difficult for your trainer to find a decent pleasure/trail horse within a 50k budget.

I’m thinking the figure means something else since you mention pleasure and trail riding (?). If that is the case, I can understand why your trainer encouraged you to shop around yourself – I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want to meet and test ride the horse, but it sounds like we need more information before any interpretation on your trainer’s behalf can be made.

It is a seller’s market right now for the horses that have a resume. Even horses with a short career are going for 10k+ in non-event disciplines.


That is a good point about moving barns being stressful. She has a lot of horses to move. I hadn’t really thought about what that might mean in terms of her time and mental energy, especially on top of everything else she does to earn a living. Thank you for that reminder @trubandloki

@beowulf My budget is $30K-$40K. Can I afford to show? Yes. But I’m not interested in it. I have a stressful job and horseback riding is something I do to relax. To me the idea of adding the stress of a show in there is not appealing. I know a lot of people love showing and I enjoy watching them show, but performing in front of people has never been my favorite thing. :woman_shrugging: For sure that does impact how much money I would bring in for the trainer on a monthly basis

And yes, so true about it being a sellers market right now. Maybe I just need to step back, let go a bit and be ok with possibly not riding until the market calms down. (Which likely means next summer if we are lucky!) That can be hard to do! But I will try.


Is there a lease option available for part time riding that the trainer already has?


No, unfortunately. I would be open to leasing or even half leasing but there isn’t anything available. The barn we are at is all people with their private horses, there isn’t a lesson program or anything and the trainers own horses are all training horses. @trubandloki

For 30-40k I am really surprised that the trainer hasn’t found you something already…

You are not that person that has the mile-long criterion-list on FB, are you? I’ll post it here for posterity:

Looking for a UNICORN 🦄

Budget to match.

Please do not bother to message me unless your unicorn matches darn near this description!

Wanted: 5-8yo draft cross gelding that is more Warmblood looking than draft, or a thick Warmblood. Height has to be 16.3-17h. We can clip feathers but we cannot make turkey platter feet into dinner plates, or 10” of bone in to 7”. We can put shoes on 16.2 1/2 and it will be 16.3, but 16.1h won’t work.

BOMBPROOF is essential… meaning, he will have to reliably ride down the road while assholes pass way-to-close at 60mph, AND hack alone in the deep deep woods while deer suddenly jump across the path. He will also have to happily tolerate self-absorbed trail users that allow (encourage?) obnoxious untrained, and of course unleashed, Fido to aggressively bark at the horse because “he thinks it’s a big dog”.

This magical unicorn will need to be broke, polished is not necessary, but must be broke and balanced. That means, he is able to walk, trot, and canter with the correct number of beats, and for the record that is 4, 2, and 3, respectively. No trantering, no four beaters, and while I understand you love your gaited horse, that won’t work either. He must know his leads, how to basically hold himself cantering down a long side, and in a more than mostly balanced way will need to be able to trot and canter 25-30m circles. He ABSOLUTELY MUST have a super comfortable trot and canter. Like riding on a cloud. If he goes like a motorcycle or a Mac truck, is a tripper, or is sloppy with his front or hind end, I’ll pass now. If he has suspension and is athletic, we admire him, but not what we are looking for at this time.

This unicorn will be jumped lightly throughout his life, but never over 2’6”. So, he will need to know how to go from one side to the other of wooden poles, without creating a pile of toothpicks. If he has only jumped 2’, that’s fine, but if there is a better chance of him going through a small jump, rather than over it, not our guy.

You know those owners who groom their horses for 1… 2… 3 hours? The ones who actually use a curry, a hard brush, a medium and then a soft, and then an extra soft brush? Yes. That. This unicorn will need to tolerate that. More preferable if he likes it.

He will need to respect an owner who is very passive and sweet, the kind that are too nice to yank the lead rope and tell them to stop being a pushy asshole. Also the kind who don’t half halt too hard, and the type that don’t correct a dancing horse in the wash stall. Only the most mannerly, gentle geldings need apply.

While the rider definitely isn’t going to the Olympics this year (in fact…is anyone?), they have been riding their whole life and do take regular lessons. The rider is correct but very passive. The unicorn must be able to take a joke, unlike some of the people who will read this ad and post their troll-like remarks. If your plow horse or lazy plug expects the rider to carry around their front end, that won’t happen here. If your horse needs a whip, spurs, and a cattle prod to make it trot, I know plenty of people looking for those, but it’s not this rider. If it needs a twisted bike chain in its mouth to halt at X, please consider finding a quality trainer for you and your horse, before selling it.

This unicorn needs to be the same on property as he is off property, he will be shown lightly. He also needs to be the same whether he is ridden every day or once every other week. No exceptions. If he has to be given 8 tubes of perfect prep and lunged until he has eyeball sweat, just because he had two days off, this is absolutely not the right horse. Not even a little. Not even if he shits golden nuggets.

Lastly… color. Yes. For real. No grays. Unlike me, this client cares if her horses are covered in poop stains. It gets worse… gasp… no bays. Why? For logic I can’t grasp. Now, if it’s the shiniest, most amazing blood bay, AND has every single bit that I wrote above, it’s worth sending a video. Or maybe I’m just naive, but I was once told you don’t ride color.

I was also told you don’t ride xrays, you ride the horse. But as you guessed, this client rides the xrays. Every last nook and cranny will be imaged, I promise. The horse will be glowing by the end of the vetting. If you know your trusty steed has some issues, and they’re “minor”, let me know ahead of time, please. If he has broken side bones or 25 chips on weight bearing joints, or is full of bird shot, he isn’t a prospective unicorn for my rider.

The unicorn who matches all of this, will get to live in a private backyard castle with the very very best care, all the way around. The best feed, farrier, vets, dentists, etc. It is a 5 stall barn in the backyard of the buyer, with constant care and attention. There is an indoor, paddocks with sheds, and miles and miles of trails and fields to ride in. It’s a truly exceptional forever home with a “do-everything” type of owner.

Budget is equivalent to the requirements. Please send confirmation pictures, videos of flatwork as well as ground manners (on cross ties, being bathed, etc), and off property riding.


Haha no I am not that person. I do have some requirements but not as extensive as that.

  • Age: 5 years to 18 years
  • Size: 14.3 to 16.2h
  • Sex: Doesn’t matter
  • Color: Doesn’t matter
  • Breed: Doesn’t matter
  • Purpose: w/t/c and some light trail riding. No jumping, dressage, eventing, reining, sorting, roping etc.
  • Bombproof? Personally I don’t think that exists. I’m looking for something that wont bolt or buck, but a little jig when a loud car comes by is fine. Not barn or buddy sour.
  • Personality? Has to like people and enjoy being doted on.
  • Maintenance: Fine within reason, just not something with navicular or major soundness issues.

I feel like that is a pretty reasonable list? But maybe I am wrong. And that is probably what everyone wants which makes horses like these hard to find. I had thought it would be easier with my budget but maybe the market is so nuts right now that isn’t the case. It’s like people paying double or triple the sale price for real estate right now in cash.


if for trail use, you might want to be on the lower end of scale as the smaller sized horse sure is easier to remount out in the wilderness

Also there are some horses under your desired height that may surprise you… we had a Morgan mare who measured at 14.1+ but under 14.2 that was always challenged when entered in pony class. She just looked much bigger than she was

We owned both of these… the buckskin was 15.2 and the bay was 14.1


I would definitely be open to as small as 14h. I love a nice pony sized horse. Smaller mounts seem even harder to find though!

Beautiful horses in your photo!


Personally, I’d suggest posting your own ISO ads and, if your trainer can’t go with you to look at whatever horses you find, you should go yourself. If you find a likely candidate, then try to get your trainer out to look at that horse. (In this hot market, you might have to put down a deposit to hold the horse, though).

If that isn’t an option, then do you have a knowledgeable friend who can go with you? Even if the person is not a pro (or even close), just having another pair of eyes can be helpful. You could have a good chat with your trainer to get an idea of what kinds of questions you should ask, and what you should specifically be looking for (or trying to avoid).

One caveat: I’m not sure I’d go to a random sale barn to look at horses without a trainer or someone else to help me look out for my interests. If your trainer knows a specific barn that she recommends, that’s fine.


I don’t know where you live, but $30-40k for a pleasure type trail horse could buy you a small fleet of them where I live. Seriously, a nice trail horse is maybe $8-10k and that’s a NICE one.

Other than moving barns and the stress of that, I can’t figure out why your trainer doesn’t want that commission. Have a frank and friendly discussion and find out what the issue is.

Other option. Do you have any experienced horse friends that you could trust and take with you instead? Or would your trainer be comfortable with you posting those ISO ads and scouring the internet to bring her the promising ones?


That’s awesome! My trainer knows I am flexible on the size. Just not bigger, but smaller would be fine. But in more than 2 months there has literally only been one horse that she sent me when someone replied to her one ISO post on Facebook. Then she was too busy to go see it with me and the horse sold. She has also been to busy to go and see every horse I have found. That’s why I’m feeling a little frustrated and wondering if she is trying to make me go away or if I am just too demanding / have unreasonable expectations given the current market.

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I have done that but she doesn’t have time to go and see anything with me. I live in New England and from what I understand horses are more expensive here. Where do you live? Maybe I should move there!

This isn’t an unreasonable list, but the market right now makes finding this horse almost impossible. I have been casually looking for another horse for months. My list is also fairly short and is reasonable, IMO. Every time I see a suitable horse listed on one of the Facebook groups that I’m following, it has dozens of comments within hours - one had over 100 “please send me more info” comments in less than a day. People are buying good horses sight unseen almost as soon as they’re listed.

It’s insane.

I wouldn’t be too hard on your trainer. @trubandloki gave excellent advice on that angle.


Yes that is what I am seeing too. Even with horses in the $40k-$50k range. They are selling in under a week and without people even coming to try them. That is something I just can’t bring myself to do, I have to meet the horse.

And thank you everyone for all the advice on the trainer situation. It is probably just the market, where we live and her being swamped with moving all her training horses to a new barn. That actually makes me feel better and not as frustrated.


Where are you in NE…? That’s my neck of the woods, and I see a few FB ads a day that would fit your budget…


I am in NH. What Facebook groups are you seeing these in? I will join those groups!


Ha, I live in Missouri. Very different than New England.

Good luck. I cannot even imagine spending that much on a trail horse. :crazy_face: But I obviously live in a very different market. I got a wonderful bomb proof 15-year old for $1500 in 2019–came with all his tack as well. He would admittedly be closer to $5000 or so now if I had to guess.