I looked for 7 months. From local to foreign countries. Finally found an awesome mare from Argentina.
Who originally found the horse – the client or the professional?
In the case of my mare, an agent found her.
How many did you go see?
I kept a spreadsheet, and it has 114 rows - each one was a horse I inquired about, or a trainer I called to ask what they had, and of those I went to see 22 horses.
How far were you willing to travel? Were you willing to fly, or only drive?
I would not fly - I drove. Max was 4.5 hours each way. Many of the horses I looked at were out of state (NC, VA,) quite a few in Ireland and Germany.
Did the trainer accompany the client to see every horse? If not, what did you do instead?
No. She went out to ride one horse for me, at the start of the search. She also commented on videos I sent, and gave a thorough critique when paid for her time. I quickly learned it wasn’t worth sending her the vast majority of horses, because I have a very clear idea of what I want and need from a horse, and a set of questions for sellers that helps me understand what’s on offer.
After going over the non-negotiables on the phone, I would request any rads (for out of state horses it’s important, and for foreign horses for me it’s required). My vet would look them over - if nothing awry, we would proceed to asking for specific photos of conformation, hooves etc and more questions. If he saw something iffy, he’d send rads to a radiologist. If all that looked good, I’d PPE. Attending vet would stop the show on the day if they saw anything off. (PS they never did - they were either very laid back about stuff like kissing spines and ringbone for an eventer, or my vet is more detail oriented than any other vet I have met.) Post PPE, all DICOMs went to my vet, and again if good he sent any needed to the radiologist.
By the way, I made it easy for vet and radiologist to access everything they needed to know: placed rads, photos, videos on Dropbox in labeled folders, had a doc in there with horse name, age, breed etc too.
Was the trainer compensated for time, or was that covered by the commission?
No commission - she was paid her lesson hourly rate.
Did COVID affect your shopping in any way?
YES. I would have flown to see horses. I also would never have believed I would buy a horse sight unseen. I ended up doing a PPE on 5 horses - 4 of those were the full toe to tail set of rads and clinical, and only two of those had I laid eyes on/ridden. I cannot believe how much the search cost, and how horse prices have jumped.
And of the 114 rows on my spreadsheet, half had seller issues (price too high, already sold, no reply, seller had a bad reputation etc) and half had horse issues (rearer, bad gaits, stopper, too short, failed the PPE etc). And one I bought!
If I had known what I know now about this hunt, I would have been quicker to look out of state (at first I really could not see buying sight unseen) and I would not have wasted my time on some of the earlier horses. I would also INSIST on seeing a horse jogged/lunged on a hard surface before PPEing, INSIST on good clear shots of hooves from side and front, and know that a good agent or seller will not be offended or argumentative when you pass on a horse - they will move on to the next horse right away. Also remember that Europe is a veritable factory for lovely horses, and there are thousands available there!