Purchasing a horse from your trainer

Has anyone ever purchased a horse from your trainer? Pros/cons? Does it work, or is there always a feeling of it not being “your horse” completely (especially if you also board at their facility)?

Honestly, it’s going to depend on how much you interact with the horse and how much control the trainer has over you and the horse. I am sure many riders purchase horses from “outside” that basically become the trainer’s horse for all intents and purposes. Especially if you are moving up from lessons and leasing to owning, I think it can be challenging for some people to step up and feel like horse owners if they are in a program that has been very directive all along.

From my perspective, I took over a horse from my trainer on a long term free lease ten years ago. My trainer had too many horses and didn’t have a big investment in that horse. Later trainer moved to her own facility and I stayed at this one. The horse still runs out and whinnies when she sees the trainer arrive. But yes, I feel she is my horse even if she isn’t legally on paper my horse.

I think making the jump from student to owner will be the challenge if you are in a more directive kind of lesson and training program.

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Yes I bought my warmblood mare from my instructor while working as an instructor there and going for my Level II under a Level III.

To start with the mare was promised to someone else. I did not know that and she was brought up from out of work from the broodmare paddock, where she did not get in foal, to be sold.

I did not know she was even broken in. 3 days of working with her I told my instructor she was sold. She asked who to? and I said me. I loved working with her. She said she would think about it.

She was supposed to be going to her accountant who was going to ride her in side saddle and her daughter was going to take her to ponyclub.

My employer decided to sell her to me instead and she lost her accountant over it.

I never thought of her as not mine. I knew her as a broodmare horse for 6 months who I was feeding and we just clicked when I started working her, I rode her every day during my lunch time. She had been trained to half steps and she had won over 50% in a medium test when previously ridden by my instructor I learnt more riding that horse in 6 months than I did training and winning on my own horses for 15 years.

I miss her.

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I think it depends on the relationship the rider has with the trainer, as well as the horse. I’ve seen trainers encourage clients to purchase horses to which the trainer obviously was still quite emotionally attached, but honestly was too green for the client. And the client didn’t necessarily have the skills or connections to go shopping outside of the barn without the assistance of the trainer, and rather blindly trusted the trainer. Not the really nefarious “trainer turning client into an ATM situation,” but not all trainers are emotionally detached from their horses as they should be. Also there can be a tendency for a less professional trainer to get upset at the client for not giving the horse the trainer’s ride.

But sometimes it does work out well. If you’re concerned, perhaps have someone from the outside whose opinion you trust come in to watch you riding or lessoning on the horse.

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I bought my horse from my trainer. I boarded somewhere else and went to her place for lessons. She didn’t have him for very long (just for a few months). I felt like he was mine but my trainer always liked to act like she knew him better than I did. It could be a little annoying but I just ignored it. For example, I bought my horse in the spring. When I was going to body clip him in the fall, my trainer thought he was going to be bad about being clipped and I might have to tranquilize him. I thought he would be fine about it. I was right - it was no problem.

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I just did and I’m so happy! I was leasing a horse at my trainer’s barn for about a year and then my lease horse got an abscess from hell last summer. So I started taking some lessons on my trainers newish lesson/project pony. She was not at all what I thought I was looking to buy but I completely fell in love. I joke that I bought her just to get a place in the barn since they were full for boarding so I wouldn’t have been able to move a horse there right away if I bought somewhere else. My trainer has never made me feel like it’s not really my horse and if anything it’s nice that she knows my pony so well and has been able to give me some great insights during lessons.

Yes to the first question, sometimes to the second question, depending on your trainer and the level of inherent crazy at your barn. But I’ve seen many people buy in barn and have it work out well.

  1. Get an extensive PPE from an independent vet and don’t rely on the trainer’s word re health history / injuries.

  2. Set clear boundaries from the beginning regarding your ownership


Really depends on the rider, the horse and the trainer. And the program, to some extent. I wouldn’t have hesitated to buy one from my previous trainer but I’d been with her for 5 years, we knew each other extremely well, I’m an independent sort of rider, and she is fine with that (and much more open to client input than a lot of hunter/jumper trainers).

In terms of it not feeling like your horse… you know your trainer and barn best. I feel like if you’re asking the question you probably already know the answer.

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Absolutely. I know someone right now who is going through the hell of NOT doing this.


A huge pro to buying a horse from your trainer is that s/he already knows the horse’s little quirks and exactly how to ride it. So you save some of that “figuring out” time from the get go!

As far as the “your horse” feeling, is this a horse that your trainer has been riding as a re-sale? Or is this his/her personal competition mount? If it’s a resale, I wouldn’t even give a second thought to this. Trainer wants to sell the horse. :slight_smile: If it’s the personal horse, I would assume your trainer is a professional and would only be selling the horse if s/he’s ready to see it go. And will probably be happy to see the horse stay “in the family”.

I bought my current competition horse from another rider in my trainer’s barn. The previous owner and I were friendly but not close. It was a little weird for me the first year or so feeling like everyone knew the horse as “Sally’s horse” but over time that went away. For the first little bit I felt a little awkward when I was riding or taking a lesson when the previous owner was around, but again that goes away with time. Incidentally the previous owner and I are now much closer friends and we ride together all the time and I don’t feel like that at all anymore!

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I did. My story ended sadly, but a lot of it was my fault for trusting a horse pro. I had been riding with a woman for over a year, and I really liked her (there aren’t a ton of eventing trainers in my area, and she had just moved here, so I was stoked to have found her.) In the midst of riding with her, I had to put my horse down for a lameness issue that couldn’t be resolved. I was riding her horses in lessons and lamenting that I didn’t know what to do next with my riding career, and she offered to have me try one of her horses.

I can look back now and see that these are red flags, but at the time, I had been riding with her long enough to trust her. First red flag was she’d had the horse for two years. All her other resale projects sold within 6 months or less. Second red flag was she dropped his price by nearly 13k for me. Like an idiot, I didn’t do any kind of real PPE, because she’d had the horse thoroughly x-rayed herself, and he was already working at BN and schooling N, so he was already active in the career I wanted him for.

After I got him, all hell broke loose. He became very sick, and was constantly injuring himself. When he came back into work, he started bucking. That’s when my trainer really showed her colors. She started insinuating everything was my fault, like ‘Well he never did any of that with meeee’ and ‘What did you do to make him do that?’ But she never offered any real training or riding advice, she just kept trying to upsell me more training, even though she’d already put TWO YEARS on the horse…

Unfortunately, I stuck it out with her for another year, during which time she managed to completely erode my confidence, and after my confidence went, my riding actually did go downhill, and it became a vicious cycle.

Long story short, she never disclosed that the horse had Lyme disease and had fractured his pelvis at one point. His Lyme disease flared up and started attacking his nervous system and soft tissues, and the fractured pelvis hadn’t been healed correctly and he was in a lot of pain. I spent twice what I paid for him in vet bills, and he was basically unridable for two years, (and when he was ridable, his constant bucking turned me into a worse rider than when I started because I was constantly on the defense.) I ended up having to have him put down as well because eventually he wasn’t even pasture sound.

But to answer your question, I think one of the harder things for me is that the trainer’s constant needling, implying that he’d always been perfect for HER, and whatever was I doing so wrong, really really was the most damaging part of what happened. I stopped talking to her a year ago and I’m still trying to regain my confidence to what it was before I met her.