I'm grateful to the OP for such an awesome post. Couldn't agree more with how well the points where made-bravo! Glad it was stickied.
I'm horseless now for a couple years..well, I had two over a 3yr period and both instances went bad. Would love some kind constructive tips as I've followed all of what the OP suggested.
First horse was a 12yr old qh that was both shown amy and youth in wp. He'd been trail ridden and though he was really too big for me, I loved him and we got a long well. My fault I let the BO talk me out of using a vet I liked for the pre-purchase (the horse was almost 12k) so I said I wanted to be there for the exam. He called to say the exam had already been done and that the horse passed with flying colors by a vet that is VERY well known in the area. Stayed there at his farm for 2mnths taking lessons and brought him home with the intention of continuing lessons. Long story short, another trainer pointed out he was off. MY vet did xrays, which I wanted done in the first place but got talked out of my the trainer whom I thought I could trust and found severe lipping in the right hock. I resold him back to the owner.
Second horse was bought from a man who was recommended to me by a friend. I took a very experienced friend with me who had started many horses as this one was young, about 2 1/2yr old. She thought him a good match with me, the other friend raved about this mans training ability and I could see how nice her gelding was that was trained by him. Also rode one of his mares who was awesome. I contracted 2mnths of training which would include lessons. After 6wks this horse still couldn't walk on a leadrope without dragging me, walking on me and giving me the playful nip/bite on the way. The trainer berated me for being impatient and I never got the lessons he promised. I took the horse out of there and put him with another gaited trainer who was strongly recommeded by the first friend. The trainer was an IJA judge and a member or FOSH. Long story short, in 3mnths I had been on his back once since she deemed me too scared to ride him (though I'd ridden him at the other trainers through the woods and down roadways..he was green but willing and smart) She also told me he had a split personality and that when he "talked to her" (yes, the horses could communicate and talk to her by mind reading..I kid you not) he was unhappy.
Sold him and waited for the dust to settle. By now, I'm out thousands of dollars and have a very unhappy husband. Fast forward a bit and I find a usdf gold medal dressage trainer. I purchased a tw mare from out of state that came with huge recommendation from a well known gaited clinician. I said I needed a child safe horse, I'd lost some confidence. He said it would be a perfect match. Got the horse home, fell in love but she had issues that deemed her dangerous for what I was wanting to do with her. This was determined after training with the dressage instructor for 18mnths..she trained 3x a week and I rode 4 to 6 times a week.
Gave that horse away..imagine the money lost. Looked at a friends qh mare. Quiet, steady is what she told me, just out of condition as she'd had a foal about a year prior. Brought the dressage trainer with me to evaluate the mare and the mare and I together. Big thumbs up, mare was quiet, laid back and seemed a great fit just needed a couple of months of conditioning and I'd take lessons to really get us clicking together. Quickly found this mare didn't like to be bridled, was a nervous horse and "needed more work than originally thought" A few more months would do it. After 6mnths the well known trainer said she'd need at least a year...so it went from a couple months of conditioning to almost a thousand dollars a month for board and her training..sold the horse back to the owner. By now, my mind is fried.
Contacted a friend who'd been in the entertainment business and was very involved with gaited horses http://www.maryrivers.com/Index.cfm
Paid her to look at good prospects. Told her I needed a beginner safe confidence builder and that I'd put the horse in training with her as my daily rides would be around my neighborhood on the swale encountering motorcycles, dogs charging the fences, bikes, etc. She would also give me one lesson a week for free at training of 1k a month. She looked at several tw's, ssh and all were not suitable. This was over a period of 3 or 4 mnths..apx. I'd gone and looked at a paso that was 5yrs old, had been shown lightly and trail ridden. Quiet mare, laid back, well gaited and rode on your ring finger. Had Mary go up and ride her. She gave the stamp of approval, just loved her. Mary told me she had YEARS of experience showing paso's and has connections to a well known paso stallion out west. Remember, I've known this woman for years and even loaned her money when she was in dire straights. I thought we were close.
The day of purchase and vet exam, Mary came out with the trailer and brought her son Deke and his gf Stephanie. As the horse was being loaded Deke handed me a training contract. I said I thought Mary would be training the horse, not him. He said she would be, but he'd be doing the sacking out as Mary had tv gigs she needed to be on location for. She would however, be doing the majority of the training. I asked that the lessons be added to the contract. No pen was handy, they needed to leave as the horse was on the trailer and it would be added when we got to the farm.
Three months later and much conversation and concerns mentioned to Mary who worked with my horse and I twice, Deke told me the training was done, they needed stall space and she had to leave their farm. I went up to see her being ridden by Deke one more time. She now wouldn't pick her feet up..in fact, she hauled back on the lead rope and sat down in fear when I tried to lift her front foot. She lost her gait and was trotting, she wouldn't walk-period-she only would jig and either try and canter or do something between a gait, pace or trot. The well mannered quiet mare was gone. Look at Mary's qualifications..would I be wrong in trusting her?? Come to find out, after talking to the many many paso folks I know, Mary Rivers never showed pasos, they'd never heard of her. One woman knew her from the tw world where she allegedly had a reputation for being harsh. Deke told me that part of her sacking out was to hobble her and then put a flank strap on her, which explains alot of how she got to be so scared. Denny Chapman who is very well known is Mary's bf and he believes these training practices are useful. Google that name and you'll find a respectable trainer, announcer and performer.
So, after me being long winded for which I'm very very sorry, how do I find a trainer that is honest???? Who would think after reading Mary's resume' that she'd be so dishonest? How do I go about finding a person who isn't going to try and take advantage and just do their job? I'm not looking for the perfect horse, there isn't one! It comes down to what you can live with, just like finding that lifelong human companion. I have to be doing something really wrong and would like to fix it because I'm more miserable w/o a horse than I was with one but I'm scared to death I'm going to continue to make the same mistakes and put both myself and my husband through Hell. This last foray into crazy town with Mary cost me a lot of $$. Cost of horse $5500, training (if you can call it that) 3K. Ended up selling this mare for $3500. I left details out of the last dealings..way too much information and I feel guilty for this long rambling post. But seriously, how do I find somebody that is honest?? I'm HONEST!!!!
When I was selling the young kmh that had the split personality (eye roll) a young gal wanted him that had no experience but had a friend who would help her, I had to turn her away and wouldn't even let her come look. I had him advertised for 6k, but in good concience couldn't let her get in over her head..bad for her AND the horse, which is what I kindly told her.
So, if anyone has any suggestions, please be gentle and tell me what I could do differently. I love horses, riding and miss it so much but I don't trust myself to make a good judgement in either picking a horse or a qualified trainer.