When you sell yourself yourself

Wondering people’s thoughts. I am part of a training barn and my horse recently sold. I posted the ad and arranged for the few people who came to try the horse, then worked with my trainer on when the potential buyers would be coming. Trainer was present for showing the horse and being there for day of rides from buyers (on two separate days), and also was present for the PPE, but the potential buyers were also there for PPE. I was away the weekend the horse was being shown and offered to attend PPE but was told it wasn’t necessary. I pay a flat fee for services (includes all training rides, lessons, care, etc.). Horse sold in less than 10 days from posting the ad. We hadn’t discussed a commission, but I assumed trainer would need to be more involved and it would take more work to get it sold. Turns out I was wrong. Do I owe a commission when I did a lot of the leg work? I feel like they should be compensated for some of their work/time, but not sure I am comfortable with a full 10% when it all happened so quickly and I was so involved. I know should have discussed it prior to getting organized to sell. Trainer hasn’t mentioned it but I don’t want them to be resenting me for it, as I plan to continue riding with them. I don’t want to outright mention it in case they say, “well I usually charge 10%…” Thoughts?

Yes ! You owe trainer her usual commission percentage… 10% • she showed the horse and handled the PPE •

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Commissions are hard since the industry standard of 10% is so completely crazy to begin with. They just generally never make much sense.

Since you weren’t involved much past finding the interested buyers I would expect to pay all or most of the commission. The length of time it took to sell the horse has nothing to do with it. A trainer can make a phone call and make 10k in 5 minutes if they’re lucky. You do need to mention it because you definitely owe your trainer something and that’s your chance to talk through it before it shows up on your bill.

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You probably owe 10% absent some other policy. When I bought my the trainer said I’d owe a commission on the eventual purchase as soon as she looked at one video. I paid the same percent for her looking at a few videos and going to look at two horses as do people who spend months looking and try over ten horses; in both cases, a mix of horses that she found and client found.

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I’m not so sure I agree with this. You’re in a weird grey area where you did half the work yourself (drafting and placing the ad, fielding phone calls from buyers) and the trainer ended up putting in what, 5-6 hours at most? Why did you place the ad and talk to buyers with no input from the trainer? That seems odd when you’re in a program.

If it’s a $5,000 horse, then by all means pay the trainer 10% with appropriate graciousness. However, if it’s a $50,000 horse, I wonder if you could approach the trainer and express appreciation for her contributions, and ask her what she thinks would be reasonable under the circumstances?

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This is a good question and one I’m pretty familiar with because of my arrangement with my trainers, but yes, you do owe a commission given that your trainer handled all of the on-the-ground legwork by being there for the PPE and prepping the horse for trials. Would you feel better if they had posted the ad and the horse still sold within days? It’s great that it happened quickly, but it’s not fair to short your trainer because that’s the case.

Anyway, back to my real-world scenario: at any given time, I have an “expensive” horse (mid-upper 5 figures) and a “cheap” horse (low-mid 4 figures). Both are for sale. I paid a commission on buying expensive horse and these types are often sold through trainer’s connections and word of mouth. Trainer arranges trials and PPE regardless of my presence. For cheap horse, I handle all buying arrangements (shipping, PPE, etc.) and selling arrangements—I post the ads, communicate with buyers, but am also there for every PPE and test ride. Trainer does not take a commission. If I were to ask them to be present for any single test ride or PPE, I would expect to (and would happily) pay them a commission.

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I think it’s the opposite. If it’s a $50k horse, trainer likely had a much larger role in making it such. But like I said in my post, I think trainer’s sheer involvement in PPE/trials warrants commission alone.

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I guess what’s confusing here is that it seems like it started with HunterEqGirl planning to sell the horse herself. Then when the test rides and PPE were inconvenient for her schedule, she asked the trainer to cover those. For that limited involvement, perhaps she should have negotiated an hourly rate with the trainer.

Who handled the rest of the transaction-- i.e., who made up the contract of sale? Who negotiated the price and/or terms with the buyer? Who loaded the horse into the buyer’s trailer?

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Good point—and I guess we also need to get to bottom of OP’s reluctance to pay commission: does it have to do with the trainer’s level of involvement or the quick period of time in which the horse sold? Perhaps there are valid questions to be asked about the former, but certainly not the latter.

No reluctance to pay commission, just wasn’t sure if level of involvement from trainer warranted a full 10%. I posted ad because trainer was under clear understanding I wanted to sell but had done no work to actually advertise or get sale moving. I wanted horse sold ASAP yet no ad posted to website, local horse groups, etc., so posted ad to move things along, which clearly worked. I offered to do bill of sale (I have sold other horses before with and without paying commission) but they already had one prepped, I added some adjustments, so we both worked on it I suppose. No negotiation on price was needed in this case. End of month so did receive a bill for commission, which is fine, I’m not going to haggle over it.

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I recently sold a horse myself and did ALL the legwork. Literally every single bit. I still paid my trainer the commission. I still feel a little bitter when I think about it, but it wasn’t worth jeopardizing my relationship with said trainer. (Disclosure: it wasn’t an expensive horse).

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Oh now this would NOT work for me. If someone wants money from a sale, they have to do the work. That’s literally the point of commission. I don’t blame you for being bitter.

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Commissions for horse sales don’t typically depend on how easy/hard the sale was. If trainer did all the legwork and the horse sold in 24 hours the trainer would still be entitled to the full commission.

So the question is really whether the commission should depend on how much the client was involved. Typically they do not. Part of what the commission pays for is the horse coming from a trainer’s barn/program and being enhanced by the trainer’s reputation. OP got that. Part of what the commission pays for is the legwork in making the sale happen. The trainer did most of that by handing the trial rides and PPE. That’s key— having the horse well prepped and doing what’s necessary to make the trial ride go smoothly is not always easy. The commission pays for all the annoying back and forth that it takes to close the deal. The trainer did that. Putting an ad online is a small task, and frankly may not have even been necessary if the trainer had good contacts to sell through word of mouth.

Of course individual parties can contract for a different arrangement but it sounds like there was no discussion here. That was the mistake. It would have been reasonable in advance to ask for a lower commission. That didn’t happen, so I would expect to pay the full amount. Lesson learned to communicate in advance next time.

FWIW I sold a horse not long ago. I paid for advertising. I found the buyer. Trainer showed the horse. I drafted all the paperwork. Both trainer and I handled the annoying, drawn out, weeks long back and forth trying to get the buyer to pay. I happily paid the full commission even though I did some legwork. At the end of the day the deal would not have been done with my selling out of my backyard. It got done in part due to my trainer’s involvement.

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most likely the interest in the horse that made the easy sale was because of the trainer’s reputation

We had one horse who was not for sale but we kept getting offers that were not solicited. The trainer who was showing the horse did refer all offers to me but he knew the only reason the horse was in his hands was to develop the horse for our kid’s use.

This did cause friction in the long run as trainer’s wife in her mind was spending that 10%/15% commission.

We had no sales contract in force but if the horse had been sold, yes I would have paid the trainer his due.

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What I like about this thread is it is another good reminder to everyone to have the uncomfortable money talk BEFORE you do things.

For so many reasons (most of which are already listed), I would pay the trainer the commission and call this my learning experience in making sure I am clear on what things cost me before I do them.

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OP, don’t feel bitter about the commission - at least the trainer did SOME legwork. My barn friend wanted to buy a new horse years ago. Her trainer (who shops on commission) was not doing anything to get the ball rolling. After a couple months she asked if I knew any horses for sale through my contacts. I did. I went with her to try a couple and she ended up buying one. Of course her trainer was waiting with her hand out and my friend knew she’d have to pay up or leave. I would have done the latter if it was me, but alas, she paid 10% and the trainer never lifted a finger. I helped the gal out because I knew how frustrated she was at the inaction of the trainer. This was a horse in the mid-low 5 figures - not a cheapie!

Agree with this wholeheartedly. Just pay up and learn the lesson.

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You do realize how different your scenario is than the example I quoted, right?

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I am not a trainer nor do I play one on TV. But I know that trainers have their own way of doing things for sells and purchases. You may not think you see them doing any work but odds are they are calling people, or watching a million videos, etc.
So don’t assume he/she wasn’t working their network in trying to sell your horse.

In this case if you are unsure ask the trainer what, if anything, they did prior to you posted your ads? That way you know.

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In some cases the commission seems to be an aid in the trainer giving the horse a ‘stamp of approval’ and essentially not shit talking it to other trainers/clients/people.

As someone whose business is not horse related… it’s always amusing how the business in the horse world is done. Commissions are all over, nothing is ‘standard’.

I’ve always done the buying and selling on my own as much as possible, because in the end it’s my money, and the horse I am going to ride. I have a hard time with the ‘trainer is god, must obey’ because IMO the trainer works for me. I haven’t had many issues because I am straight forward, upfront, and I do have money to spend (which I think helps!).

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