Don’t Expect A Trial To Be Offered
Many owners (like myself if I was selling a horse, which I hardly ever do by the way) think that the risk involved is too great when it comes to horse being taken on trial periods. If that is the case, they should be open to you coming to try out the horse multiple times. If their insurance allows maybe even allowing your trainer to come in and give you a lesson on the horse!
Some Sellers May Offer A Optional Trial Period
Once you have found your unicorn, the perfect horse for you. Some owners may offer to let you take the horse on a trial for a certain period of time. Just to make sure it is the right fit for you. At first thought, this probably sounds like a great idea, but there are factors to consider.
If The Horse Is At Your Home Barn…
If the horse you are intending to take on trial is already in your home barn. In my opinion, that is a circumstance where it is pretty safe to take the horse on trial.
He will be in his normal conditions, in his normal routine, without the increased chance of being injured that goes along with the possibility of trying a horse, by moving it to a different location.
Even If You Feel You Know The Seller Well, Get The Details In Writing!
There is nothing worse than losing a friendship over something that could have been avoided by talking over details. Though the horse will stay at its regular farm. Make sure you hash out the following:
Who pays board?
Who pays for the vet if the horse is hurt?
Are they asking for a deposit during the trial period?
Is it an additional fee or a fee that will be deducted from the purchase price?
Are you allowed to trailer the horse off the property for trail rides or shows?
Do they expect you to use their tack? Or is it okay to use your own?
Are you permitted to let other rides ride the horse?
As far as your barn concerns, most likely they already have a signed release from you. It isn’t unusual that the horse owner may want an additional one to protect themselves. Finding that out is important to mention! Again, something that could cause conflict if an incident were to occur.
A Trial Period At The Owners Farm
All the above questions need to be taken care of before any trial period begins. There are a few questions that you need to ask though if you are planning on spending time at a farm that is new to you for the trial period.
Have you signed their liability release? Most likely you did when you tried the horse initially.
What are the barn hours?
What arenas and areas are you allowed to ride in?
Are you allowed to ride in the ring if other riders are having a lesson?
Can you bring your own trainer to give you a lesson on the prospective horse?
Are there trails? What are the trail riding rules, do you have to go with a buddy? etc…
Are you allowed to trailer the horse off the property for shows, lessons or trail rides?
Are you permitted to let others ride the horse?
Finding out all this information before you start spending time at a new farm can make for a smooth transition into your trial period.
Bringing A Horse On Trial To Your Farm
Again, all the same questions apply in this situations. Know what the owner is expecting from you. Who is paying for it and do they have any certain things that you can and cannot do.
For example, some people who allow their horse to go off the property on trial won’t want it to be turned out. They want to avoid the risk of the horse getting hurt with unfamiliar horses. Which if you didn’t end up liking the horse will hinder their time period to sell it.
The idea of having the horse to try at your own farm where you are comfortable probably sounds like the best idea.
You need to consider all the details, that we have spoken of before. There is certainly more risk in bringing the horse to your farm.
Horses are great at getting themselves hurt, we all know that by now. Even if you kept the horse in a stall there is no guarantee that it can’t get hurt there.
When the horse is in your care fully, the horses owner will only know what is going on by what you tell them. So having to explain how their horse got hurt is something you would have to do.
Also, don’t be surprised if they might want to come and check out your facility and make sure it is a safe place they are sending their horse to. Which is totally reasonable, wouldn’t you do the same thing if you were sending your horse to a new place?
Another Reminder To Get Things In Writing
No matter what the circumstances and details of the trial, work out every little detail you can think of in advance to avoid issues later on.
Personally, I have never had a horse on trial for myself. I have the sixth sense and I feel very definitively if the horse is right for me or not. Which leads no need for a trial.
Not to mention, the experiences where I have seen students bring in horses for trial have always been stressful and most didn’t end with a rider finding their dream horse.
If Their Are Children Involved
This is important, as much as you want to know for sure that this horse or pony is perfect for your child, I don’t recommend bringing it to the barn on trial.
Go ride it a bunch of times, get your instructor to give you lessons on it.
The problem I have seen time and time again with parents allowing kids to take horses home on trial is that once the horse is at their barn that’s it. They have been waiting for a horse for so long. It won’t matter if you discover bad habits or vices about the horse. They have waited this long and once it is in the barn, they are going to be sold on it no matter what.
Having the horse there to a kid is like horse shopping is over. I have known more than one time when a student had a horse on trial. One that definitely wasn’t right for them for whatever reason. But it didn’t matter, he was there in that stall. It was “their” horse and there was no returning it at that point in the game!
Personally, with kid riders, I think it is a better idea to go to the horse as many times as you need to in order to make up your mind. Rather then bringing the horse “home” and having them get super attached to the wrong horse.
A Lot To Think About Isn’t It
Just think it through is all I’m asking. Weigh the pro’s and con’s of how a trial would work in whatever capacity you might try one.
Make sure it is the best option for you, and certainly make sure that all the tiny details (especially the liability ones are worked out ahead of time).