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Piper speaks with top trainer and judge Geoff Case of Horseshoe Bend Sales about how to try a horse, what to look for and how to navigate the buying process better. Brought to you by Taylor, Harris Insurance Services. Listen in!
GUESTS AND LINKS:
- Host: Piper Klemm of The Plaid Horse Magazine
- Guest: Geoff Case is a rider, trainer and large “R” judge. As a rider, Geoff has represented the United States in International competitions. As a trainer, Geoff has had many students become Year End Hunter Champions, USET Finals Champions and won many ribbons at Medal and Maclay Finals. Geoff is also a large “R” judge that has officiated at most major horse shows including The National Horse Show, the Winter Equestrian Festival, the West Coast Junior Hunter Finals and The Hampton Classic Horse Show.
- Title Sponsor: Taylor, Harris Insurance Services, Taylor, Harris Insurance Services (THIS) was founded in 1987 to provide specialized insurance for all types of equine risk. THIS places their policies with the highest rated and most secure carriers, meticulously selected for reliability and prompt claims settlement. THIS is proud of their worldwide reputation for responsive and courteous service, and welcomes the opportunity to discuss your equine insurance needs and provide you with a quote.
- Photo Credit: Four Oaks Creative
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This transcript was generated automatically. Its accuracy may vary.
Geoff Case [00:00:32] But again, I think that’s where we come back to the last conversation about a relationship with your trainer, having a good sense of what you’re looking for and what you want going in, because then I think you can look at the horse and you see, does it fit what I’m looking for? And you should be able to do that in one or two trials, especially if the horse’s life is at a 12 year old. Been there, done that. There should be plenty of video out there. It’s easy to access their records of the USEF. You really shouldn’t need more time than that. And if you do, you really unconsciously decided it’s not the right one. You may be trying to make it work. And when you’re trying to make it work in the long run, it’s most likely not going to.
Piper Klemm [00:01:06] This is the plaidcast. I’m Piper Klemm, publisher of The Plaid Horse magazine. And coming up on today’s episode 352, I speak with Geoff Case of Horseshoe Bend sales about how to try a horse, what you’re looking for and how to navigate that process better. This is a continuation of our conversation on commissions and how we can work together to most efficiently educate and have proper expectations on both sides for the sales horse processes. This episode is brought to you by Taylor Harris Insurance Services.
Piper Klemm [00:03:45] Geoff Case is a rider trainer and large R judge. As a rider, Geoff has represented the United States in international competition. As a trainer, he has coached many students to be year-end champions, USET finals champion and many ribbons at Medal and Maclay finals. Geoff is also a Large R judge who has officiated at most major horse shows, including the National Horse Show, the Winter equestrian festival, West Coast Junior Hunter Finals and the Hampton Classic Horse Show.
Piper Klemm [00:04:13] Geoff, I wanted to have you back on after our last conversation about commissions to talk a little bit more about the process of finding and trying horses. When I talk to people about that episode, this came up a lot when I talk to a lot of trainers. You know, you hear about all all of the things that are frustrating when you bring the horse up to the ring and people aren’t on time or the horse ends up waiting or what to do if you’re not actually interested in this horse. Can you start by walking us through what people should be looking for and kind of what they should know already before they put their foot in the stirrup?
Geoff Case [00:04:47] Well, I think, you know, like a lot of things in life, it depends on what you’re looking, what kind of horse you’re looking for, who you’re shopping for, and. You know what job it’s going to do. I mean, I think if you’re for example, if you’re a professional and you’re looking for a young investment hunter, you know, I mean, in the, you know, specifically trying at the schooling ring, I mean, first thing, obviously you can flat them around. You’re looking for for movement first and foremost if it’s a young hunter. And then a couple of jumps and you can see how it jumps and if you’re buying it as an investment for yourself, it’s probably enough. If you’re buying a horse for a client, you probably need to to do, you know, have a little bit more scrutiny and a little more of sort of intense, maybe not the right word, but a bit more complicated trial, you know, And the subject in the email anyway, was about trying horses in the schooling ring. And I think the first thing people need to consider is. When you’re going to try a horse at a show in a schooling ring, you’ve got to think a little bit about the decorum of the schooling ring, like there’s nothing that irritates people more when they’re trying to get ready for a class and somebody is holding on to a jump because they’re trying a horse. So I think that. If you’re going to do that. Nobody really wants to do things first thing in the morning. But if you could do it first thing in the morning before the show starts, maybe there’s an early ring and you could do it. At the end of the day in a certain shows, depending on where you are will have an extra practice ring or a ticketed ring or something like that. You know, try to find, especially when you’re shopping for a client, because you probably want to do more than just jump one single jump back and forth. You probably like to build a line, maybe a combination and you know, all those things to try to do those in the middle of the day at a busy horse show is it’s difficult and it’s, you know, it’s rude to the exhibitors that are trying to get ready for the class.
Piper Klemm [00:06:52] Let’s kind of talk about the logistics beforehand. How do you know you’re ready to try a horse even? You know, I think people get really excited and, you know, want to try like so many horses. But like, the goal should really be to try basically as few horses as possible. Not as many. Right.
Geoff Case [00:07:13] Well, I think that’s where you’re communication beforehand with your trainer or whoever you have selecting these horses for you to try. You know, hopefully if you’re if you have a trainer, they’ve got a good sense of what type of horse suits you, you know, what level you’re looking to get to, what the purpose of buying this horse is for. And then for the most part, I’d say that’s. Either. Your trainer has seen a horse a few times in the ring and they think it will suit and they ask if it’s for sale. That that I think is the the ideal way is when your trainer has a good idea of what you’re looking for, the type that suits you, the job it’s going to do. And there’s a handful of horses that they’ve seen. They’ve seen in the ring a few times. They feel like that’s a good fit for you and then find out if they’re for sale and, you know, if it’s in your budget. You know, the other thing is, you know, when you’re like I see it a lot of times in Wellington, like especially we had, you know, we talked a bit about the agent thing on the last plaidcast, but, you know, I’ll get several phone calls from several different people. Let’s say, for example, I have clients flying in for a small junior hunter. Okay. I’ve now gotten the same phone call from five people. Then you have to sort out if it’s all for the same person and if it is all for the same person, then you’ve got to sort out the budget. Who’s getting what commission? You know, who truly deserves the commission on the deal? But what ends up happening, I think a lot of times, especially when you’re talking about the winter circuits, be it Ocala, Palm Beach, I’m assuming it’s similar out in thermal, but I haven’t been there in a while. You know, people hear of a client coming in and all of a sudden there’s 50 horses coming out of the woodwork for them to try. And I think that’s where as the professional representing that client or again, as the agent, you have to have clear communication of what you’re looking for, what you want. And then for me, before I even try a horse, because video is so accessible now, whether it’s Clip My Horse or a different streaming service or, you know, even in Europe, they have a few other ones. I try to watch as the representative of the client, try to watch as many videos as you can. So at least so you get a sense of the type of the horse. But that also becomes a double edged sword, because if you watch a horse enough, it’s going to make a mistake. So you got to also understand that if you’re watching every round, if you’re not just getting the highlight reels from the person trying to sell the horse you’re watching every round. You have to understand that not every round is going to be perfect and you have to be okay with that. But I think if you can narrow it down as much as possible for your client, it’s an ideal situation, not only for the client because then their heads are not spinning, trying to wrap everything around 50 different horses. They have sort of a select group of, you know, let’s say 5 to 10 maybe, and then you can really focus on them. You can try them well, and then you have a sense of the horse’s background and and everything before you go in. I mean, obviously, if you call somebody and ask them for a video of a horse, they’re going to send you the best video they have. So that’s the other thing you’ve got to realize when you get the video of the horse, it’s probably its best round on its best day. And that’s where I think you have to do a little bit more legwork and research to find out. You know how much If it’s a hunter, how much prep does it take? If it’s for a novice rider? Like, does it have a good sense of humor? It’s not always the best idea to buy. For example, let’s say you’ve got a novice rider and maybe buying a horse from somebody like Scott Stewart that’s never missed a distance in his life and you don’t know what’s going to happen. Once your client misses five or six times, it’s maybe not always the ideal scenario. Now, that being said, if Scott’s jumping it in the first years and you’re looking for a 2’6″ adult hunter. You know, you take that into consideration that it’s overqualified. That’s the other thing I think you always want to look for when you’re looking for a client is you want something as much as possible as you can within budget to find something that’s overqualified for the job they’re asking them to do. Because professionals make mistakes, amateurs make mistakes, juniors make mistakes. And you’d like to have a horse that has the the scope or the ability to get them out of those mistakes without, you know, sort of losing their heart.
Piper Klemm [00:11:48] Yeah. Emily always said to me a great canter, more scope than needed for the job at hand and a kind personality and everything else is optional.
Geoff Case [00:11:58] Yeah. I mean, I do think that canter is something that people need to or could pay a little more attention to. There’s again, especially when you’re shopping for a junior or an amateur, a horse with a good canter can help them out a lot as far as, you know, finding the jumps, learning the track. It’s it’s difficult when a horse doesn’t have it. It’s more difficult when a horse doesn’t have a great canter. And I think that’s also from the judging perspective. When we’re judging the under saddles, I think there’s a little bit too or at least the exhibitors have the perception that that the trot is the most important thing. Well in the under saddle actually the canter should be the most important thing the trot is, you know, the trot is your first impression. The trot is can get you that little bit of a wow factor. But at the end of the day, we jump from the canter. So the canter is always to me, whether no matter what kind of horse you’re looking for, whether it’s a hunter or a jumper, or an equitation horse, when you’re looking at the gates, the canter needs to be the most important thing.
Piper Klemm [00:12:56] Okay, so you sit down with your trainer. You have a very realistic conversation about where you are and where what your goals are, what your budget is right now. And typically in horse deals, unless it’s discussed prior, it is assumed that you will wire the money basically instantly. So you need to have that cash liquid in your bank account if you are trying a horse of that price. And I’m hearing more and more trainers kind of having having agreements before they even start shopping because it’s, you know, if if your client acts poorly, it reflects poorly on you as a professional shopping, it might impact you shopping for the next client.
Geoff Case [00:13:36] Well, I think also it’s what if the if the professional is doing their job, it’s a lot of legwork and it’s a lot of effort and it’s a lot of phone calls and a lot of conversations. It could even involve a lot of extra traveling. So I don’t think it’s a bad idea to have an agreement in writing. This is what I want to spend. I understand that your commission is ten, 15%. Whatever the professional charges, I understand that there is a possibility of an agent commission in the middle. I understand that there’s a possibility that I might even have to pay the trainer representing the horse’s Commission, because there are certain instances where, you know, a trainer sold a client, and I hear this a lot, you know, a trainer sells a client’s horse for them and then they refuse to pay them a commission. So, you know, I think all that stuff has to be upfront. I think once you’re discussing what you’re looking for in budget. The other thing I find that I find that trainers don’t aren’t willing to have that realistic discussion with their client like. For instance, I had years ago when I was in New York, a kid coming out of the school program, she was novicey- wasn’t. You know, given the gift of unreal talent. And the parents came to me and they said, we would like to buy our daughter a small pony that can go and do the division at the A shows and, you know, maybe kind enough that she can start in the short stirrup, but, you know, eventually be able to go to pony finals, all this stuff, yada, yada, yada. And. I said to them, okay, you know what? What’s your idea? Like, what do you think you can spend? And long story short, they said, well, we can spend about 30,000. And I said, well, realistically, you’re not going to get what you want for the budget that you have. I mean, a rated division, small pony that’s pretty, safe, jumps well, can be competitive. I mean, if you find that for less than six figures, you’ve done a really, really good job, I think. Anyway, they didn’t like that. We tried a few and they weren’t what they wanted, but they were within budget. They and they ended up leaving and going to a different trainer. I saw him in a horse show like a month later on this pony that was running, literally running blind away with the kid, like leaving two strides out in the short stirrup. And I’m like, But I think that trainers, they want to sell. They want to sell their client horses because as we discussed before, the training, the board, all that stuff, by the time you pay your overhead, your staff, everything, that’s pretty much break even. So the profit really for trainers is in commissions from buying and selling. But I think if you don’t have that conversation before, you’re not willing to sort of disappoint your client or give your client a realistic horse that they’re going to get for the budget they have. You end up running around in circles trying a bunch of horses that aren’t appropriate and wasting a lot of your own time too. So I don’t think that’s a bad idea. I mean, at least that sort of written agreement, if if nothing else, it forces you to sit down and have a conversation before you go shopping. You know, the other thing is you need to discuss. Okay. Your budget is 50,000, for example. Have a realistic discussion. If I find one for 75, that’s absolutely perfect. Is that at all doable or is it not? That’s the other thing you find. You find people shopping out of budget and then they come and they try your horse and then they offer you significantly less than you’re asking because that was their budget. That’s not fair to the people representing the horse either. But I do think that that really as much conversation as you can have before you even sit on the first horse. It’s sort of streamlines the process. It makes it more efficient. And I think you’re more likely to have a better outcome if you’re willing to have those sort of difficult conversations beforehand.
Piper Klemm [00:17:48] I also think there is like this layer of that. It’s like the tri. And so let’s get into the trial itself that like it’s not going to be perfect necessarily because it’s something it’s an animal that your trainer knows that they can teach you to ride. And I feel like that gets lost. I think there’s sometimes you see people even fall off during a trial and still buy the horse because they they know that they can that it fits in their program and they can learn whatever is going on. Um, you know, I, I didn’t even try my horse at all because I knew I couldn’t ride him and it was going to be a process like again compromises with budget like but we had that discussion that nothing I can afford I will be able to ride.
Geoff Case [00:18:35] Well I think that’s that’s another part of that conversation right like. So first of all, first off, you have a very good relationship with the person that’s looking for the horse. She knows you well. She knows her program. You know, it’s often it happens a lot where people, let’s say they’re moving from the sort of local show level to the A show level. So they’re moving from their local barn to a bigger A barn, and the trainer doesn’t really know the client all that well. And they need a you know, they need a next level horse. I think that part of the discussion, like you just said, is, you know, are we looking for. Something that fits us right now. Like, are we looking for a horse that can take us straight away into the children’s children’s hunters, for example? Or are we looking for something that maybe has a little bit more talent, but it’s going to be a bit of a process. And I think that if you’re looking at that, that’s another has to be a really realistic conversation because the you know, the truth of the matter is the majority of parents that are buying horses for their children don’t have a lot of experience in the horse industry, don’t really have a lot of knowledge, don’t really understand how long it takes to produce a green horse for an inexperienced rider, and have to understand that they’ll be bumps and bruises along the way. You know, like I said, the if and that comes back to budget. I mean, if you have all the money in the world to spend, you should get all the things you want and your kids should pretty instantly be able to ride it. It’s when you’re trying to figure out how to compete, when you don’t have all the money, you know, which way do you go? My suggestion would be for a less experienced rider to go with maybe the less talented steady Eddie. And you have to have that discussion with the parents that maybe your first horse or two or three or five. Are investments in your child. They’re not horses you’re going to make money on. You know, once your kid reaches a certain level, you can have that discussion. If you want to do an investment horse here or there or whatever. But a lot of times they air the other way and they buy the talented one and it ends up not going well. The child gets frustrated, the parents get frustrated, maybe even the child gets hurt. Maybe the child even loses all interest in the sport because they don’t understand the time and the patience it really takes to bring along a green horse. And I think that’s, again, part of that discussion beforehand, because you don’t really want to be trying, in my opinion. You don’t want to go to horse show and say, oh, my client’s looking for either like a 12 year old, been there, done that, or a really talented five year old. I mean, then you’re like, wait, you know, what is it you’re looking for? And then all of a sudden you’re trying a bunch of different horses. And again, the client’s head starts spinning around and they it makes the decision process harder. The more you can get decided up front, the better.
Piper Klemm [00:21:36] Okay, so we’ve decided we want that. Been there, done that 12 year old. We’ve had the discussion. We’re pretty realistic about what this horse is and isn’t going to be. Trainer sets up a trial with the other trainer. What are kind of best practices that you can do as someone trying the horse? I mean, the first thing I would say is be absolutely on time to whatever time you set because it’s so disrespectful to the horse to make it stand up at the ring.
Geoff Case [00:22:04] Well, yeah, I agree. Set a time that’s realistic for everybody. Try to set a time where if you’re doing this at a horse show, like I said, I think first thing in the morning or very end of the day work best. The other thing you don’t and I’ve seen it a lot. You don’t want to get into a situation where even if you’re at a show like, let’s say, Kentucky, which has the ring on top of the hill where you can set a line and all that stuff during the day. You don’t want to get in a situation where you’re trying to try the horse, but you have a client showing in 20 minutes. So you’re constantly checking your watch and you’re rushing through, especially when you’re looking for that horse, for that customer. You want to be able to take your time and you want to be able to make sure that the client is comfortable. You don’t want to rush things because again, you know, when you’re talking about a novice client and maybe it’s their first time trying horses, or maybe they haven’t sat on that many different horses in their lives, You know, you have to understand they’re not professionals. It might take them an extra five, 10 minutes of trotting just to really feel comfortable on the animal in general. And if you’re rushing like anything in life, if you’re rushing through it, you’re not going to do the best job you can do. So try to find a time that you have plenty of time. The seller has plenty of time. The warm up rings relatively quiet. You can do the things you feel like you need to do to make sure it’s a match for your kid. You know, try to see maybe for a second trial. If the horse show opens the rings at the end of the day for a ticketed class or. Something like that. And you can take advantage of that, see if there’s if they’d be amenable to get me using Kentucky as an example. Let you take, you know, maybe ship the horse 2 minutes down the road to somebody’s farm and jump a little course. I mean, I think when you’re when you’re trying horses for that level client, you’ve got to check more boxes than when you’re a professional buying a horse for yourself, for example.
Piper Klemm [00:26:42] What is kind of the amount of trial or ranges of the amount of trial that’s appropriate to both sides? Like, I think it’s easy to get frustrated on both sides and I obviously see both sides of it as you want and probably a lot of money. You want to know that you’re comfortable. That takes some time. On the flip side, like, it is infuriating as a seller to have someone jump your animal like three times in the ticket ring and then like, pass because it just it blocks off so many other trials, it’s so many jumps, it feels disrespectful to the animal.
Geoff Case [00:27:22] No. And I think it’s not only disrespectful to animal, it’s disrespectful to the owner of the animal. I’d like to think in an ideal world. If you can, let’s say, for example, try it once in a schooling again, taking the horse show model, if you can try it once in a schooling ring and you can jump it once or twice around a ticketed ring, if you don’t think it’s the right one by then, it probably isn’t. I really think two trials, if you’re able to quote unquote really try it like jump a course and do all the things that do all the things you feel like that horse is going to need to do for your client. Two trials is probably. Appropriate. You know, if it comes down to if you’re again, you fly to Florida, you’ve tried 30 horses, it comes down to a top two know maybe a third trial with just a handful of jumps is appropriate. But you’re right. I mean, when you’re you know, I’ve been through it so many times where. They come to the farm once, they come to the farm twice. Then they want to take it. Jump tickets. Fine. Then they want to show it. And then, you know, you go through like five different trials and then you don’t hear anything and then you call the trainer and be like, Hey, what’s going on? Oh, she bought one off the video from Europe. Like that. That’s mind blowing and extremely frustrating for the people selling the horse as well. And the other thing is, you’ve got to think if if you’re buying a horse like we’re talking about for them, I would say more often than not, that horse has an owner that’s showing it. So if you’re not really, really, really serious about the horse after your first maybe second trial. It’s not fair to the owner then to say, Oh, I can’t show this week because it just jumped a thousand jumps in the trial. I think you’ve got to be respectful of that as well. But again, I think that’s where we come back to the last conversation about a relationship with your trainer, having a good sense of what you’re looking for and what you want going in. Because then I think you can look at the horse and you see, does it fit what I’m looking for? And you should be able to do that in one or two trials, especially if the horse’s, like you said, a 12 year old been there, done that. There should be plenty of video out there. It’s easy to access their records of the USEF to do your homework. You really shouldn’t need more time than that. And if you do, you’ve really unconsciously decided it’s not the right one. You may be trying to make it work. And when you’re trying to make it work in the long run, it’s most likely not going to.
Piper Klemm [00:29:56] That’s a really interesting point that I like. I didn’t like think of. Yeah, if you’re sure you do it immediately and there’s something subconscious that you’re not ready for. If you know if you need to do too many trials.
Geoff Case [00:30:11] Yeah. And I think too, you know, when you come back to that idea of having an agreement in writing with your trainer beforehand, I if I were a trainer and I was writing that up, I think the other side of that is that in the modern day U.S., and especially when you’re talking, I think certain places tend to be worse than others. But you know, we’re in a fairly litigious society, I think, and at the back of every I see it more with vets. But and even in Europe now, actually, but in the back of that, that’s my in the back of the trainer’s mind, they’re like, oh God, if I make a mistake, I could get sued. So I think if you have that agreement and everybody’s knows what they’re going to be going into in the beginning, you know, you also build yourself in as the trainer or agent or whatever, a little bit of protection in case. So you said maybe you are trying a horse that’s got a huge record and it’s been a saint and yada, yada, yada, and it’s horses. And sometimes unfortunate things happen. The kid does fall off in a trial and say they break their arm or break their leg or they get hurt. You know, if you have that agreement in place, they were at least aware there should be probably a clause in that agreement that says, you know, these are horses, things can happen, you could get hurt. You know, this going in. So, because even with the best laid plans we know with horses. I mean, things happen. They’re animals. There’s, you know, sometimes in ideal footing conditions or, you know, anything can happen or somebody opens their umbrella next to the ring and all of a sudden horse is never spooked and life spins around, a kid falls off. You know, I mean, it things can happen. So I think that’s another thing that parents need to be aware of. When you’re putting your inexperienced child on a horse, they don’t know. You know it, it can happen. And I think it needs to be clear going in that that that’s a possibility and that gives everybody some degree of protection also in case something bad were to happen.
Piper Klemm [00:32:11] And a lot of times you are potentially trying one to move up a division so you might not be completely qualified to ride it because it’s that chicken and egg. You know, you can’t move up without the horse, but you can’t, you need the horse to move up, you know?
Geoff Case [00:32:28] Yeah. I mean, I think in a scenario like that, probably the the smartest thing to do or the best way to go about it is maybe then on. Early in the week. And I’m not saying they have to jump 500 jumps, but maybe the smart thing in that scenario is for the professional to ride it first. And then get a sense of, you know, if you’re looking for a horse to move up, say, from the children’s hunters to the junior hunters, make sure that it has the stride and the scope to jump three six and make sure you get the feeling as a professional that either your client can ride it or that in your program you can make it work and do that briefly, because a professional should be able to get a sense of that in a handful of jumps, in my opinion, whether it’s worth sitting the client on or not. And then maybe when your client sits on it, you don’t ask it to jump three six because you already know it can. You know, if your client’s comfortable at three foot, you only jump three foot or maybe you need to make one jump three foot six out of a line or out of an in and out or something where, you know, the client isn’t going to actually have to find a distance they can just count to it. But I think that’s the other thing. You don’t if you’ve got a kid coming off a medium pony and looking for a junior hunter, if they haven’t jumped three six before in a trial on a horse they haven’t ridden, might not be the right time to do that. And that’s where I think, again, the client and trainer have to have communication and trust. And the trainer can say, Look, I rode it, I jumped at three six. It does it easy, you know, But we don’t need to do that to little Susie. We don’t especially, you know, oftentimes when you’re doing trials at horse shows, there’s a lot of eyes on you. Not that they’re necessarily watching your trial, but they’re there doing other things. And there’s a lot of people watching. And that in of itself, to a novice customer can add to the nerves and the pressure and the difficulty of trying a horse at a show. So I think the more you can again, the more you can know going in and the less you feel like you have to thread that needle in the trial or really push it. To the edge. The better. And the you know, the happier the owner is, the happier and safer your client will be. So, yeah, I mean, I would suggest if you’re looking for that kind of horse that maybe the trainer of a sit jump five or six jumps on it before you even decide your client should sit on it.
Piper Klemm [00:34:50] Okay. And so then we we navigate this and then go through the vetting. I, I also feel like understanding, like the timing of the horse shows a little bit. And if you are going to need more time or are going to need more comfort like. Right before WEF starts. You know, there are certain times of the year where sellers are very inflexible because the market is hot. And if you if you can kind of time around those a little bit, if you are going to be someone who needs a little bit more time to get comfortable or, you know, wants to see the horse at home or something like that, like it’s much more possible certain times a year than others.
Geoff Case [00:35:29] Well, I think regardless of where you’re shopping, there’s always better times than others to buy. You know, I think if you you’re using WEF as the model, you know, I think you’re going to get your best deals. And again, it also depends on who you’re shopping with and how well you know them and you know how their mind works. But I would say your best deals, if you’re shopping at WEF, are going to be end of March, early April, when Circuit has gone by, the horses haven’t sold and they don’t want to take them home. The other thing is you can also get a decent deal, say like November, December before they’ve put. You know, the untold amount of money it costs to carry a sale through, you know, before they put 20, 30, 40, 50,000 in it, carrying it through WEF. You know, a lot of people and that’s kind of the shopping window. For example, horses coming into Europe, I mean, people go all the time. But after indoors, November is a is a huge month in Europe. It’s a good time actually to buy in Europe too at the end of the outdoor season, because there’s also that mentality like there are shows in the winter, but there aren’t as many and they’re not as nice. And you know, they’re thinking about feeding it through the winter and not showing it and probably not having an opportunity to sell it again until outdoor season in April, you know, all those sort of factors come into play as far as timing of of trying horses, you know, another good time, depending on what you’re looking for, but another good time. If you’re looking for an equitation horse, you know, right after the National Horse show, maybe it’s a kid that’s aged out their going to college. Parents don’t want to carry it. It hasn’t sold through indoors. You know, maybe they’re a little more flexible on the price. I think if you’re shopping for an equitation horse in September, you’re going to pay a premium because people know that, you know, finals are coming up. They also know that equitation horses break. So even if they have if they’ve got a nice horse and they haven’t sold it, somebody’s horse is going to break and get a good lease out of it just for indoors. So, I mean, I think, you know, you’re looking November, December. And like April are probably. When you take Florida as the model are probably the times to go and you’ll get the best bang for your buck.
Piper Klemm [00:37:48] And there is kind of the the Moneyball component where like something new shiny comes and it looks so fancy and it hasn’t really done anything yet. And I think that that excitement and that’s kind of where the biggest gamble and probably if we look back with hindsight, the most overpayment happens.
Geoff Case [00:38:07] Well, I think it’s the horse still hasn’t sold. And I don’t know I don’t know if it’s because they’re asking a ton of money or what. But there was a horse this winter, and I was standing in the warm up ring for the first years in Florida. And someone came up to me and said, ‘did you hear so-and-so’s horse got a 94 at WEC today?’ I’m like, Oh, no, I hadn’t heard that. Oh, my gosh. Everybody is like driving up there to try it now. Like, I mean, there were like tires screeching out of the show in Palm Beach to get up to Ocala to try this horse that got a 94. You know, I’m not saying it didn[‘t. I didn’t see the round. I’m not saying it didn’t deserve it. Maybe that was the best day of its life. Maybe it’s been. But, you know, just that one little bit of information, like you said, the shiny new thing, and everybody was chomping at the bit to try to get up there to try it. And there’s definitely a newness component to it, too. I think by just kind of dumb luck. We had a very, very nice eight year old jumper this winter. And what we found for for our business model is it was really nice to take we had a couple, but to take them over to Venice, jump those regional grand prix, because that’s probably what they should be jumping at eight and you know, doing the 140s at WEF, First of all is expensive. And second of all, if you’re trying to win any prize money, you’ve got to go as fast as humanly possible and not always the best thing for a young horse. And he learned a lot. Got some nice results in Venice. We bust him out one week, like I think it was maybe Nations Cup week, maybe the week after. But for everybody that had been watching all the same horses all winter and then all of a sudden this horse they haven’t seen goes in and he jumped phenomenal for two days. And my phone was ringing off the hook because it was like, wow, this is new. Wow. It jumped amazing. You know, it’s another interesting thought when you’re trying to sell horses is how to it’s that balancing act between trying to put a record on them versus also not having them get stale in people’s eyes. That’s that’s a little bit of a tricky line to to walk when you’re trying to sell a horse. And I think with hunters, I’ve had this discussion with a lot of people. There’s it’s a really. You kind of have an opportunity when they first come and they’re brand new and they haven’t really done anything and they look really talented. You get people excited about it, but then once you have it for. 30 to 60 days, then people are wanting a record on it. Then once you start showing it, then they want more of a record on it. So you kind of have that hit at the very beginning when it’s an exciting new unseen thing or and you get it done or you’re ended up having to carry it for a few months to put it in the ring, get it a record and prove that it can do it. It’s very I think once you, you know, kind of once you show the horse a couple of times. Then they’re going to want to see it show more. But if you haven’t shown it, then it’s the new thing that nobody’s seen. And everybody wants it because they want the shiny new toy. It’s the psychology of that to me is also interesting.
Piper Klemm [00:41:21] And if you flip that psychology around as a buyer, like it’s training yourself that the sexiest object, you know, is not you want you want to – the one you want to marry, you know?
Geoff Case [00:41:37] Well, you know, sometimes sometimes in life, you know, you want a solid first husband before you can marry the Daddy Warbucks as your second husband. But it’s, you know, there’s there’s just such a it’s hard to put a hard and fast rule on everything because there’s so many different levels and motivations and buyers are so many different levels and types of horses. I mean, I think a lot of it has to come down to feel and again, trust in your trainer, trust in their knowledge. You know, I always find that if the ideal scenario for a person buying a horse for a client to me is that the client says we want X horse for Y budget. And you think I have seen. This horse that will do the job. I’ve no idea what it costs, but I’ve seen it. I like it. I’ve seen it a lot. I feel like it’s a good match and I can go up to them and ask if it’s for sale. And then if you’re lucky, it is. And if you’re even luckier, it’s in budget. But I think it’s it’s a better process and you end up with a better outcome when it’s done that way versus. You know, like I call it this big, this spaghetti effect where you’re going to Wellington and you’re trying 50 horses and you’re trying to. See what you’re throwing against a wall and see what sticks.
Piper Klemm [00:42:54] Okay. And then let’s talk a little bit about, like, realistically about like hopes and dreams, because I’m an irrational person and I know all of the things and I know all the things and I know all the things, but I still, like, get my heart set on like, oh my God, we’re going to Devon and we’re going to be champion at the National Horse show, and I’m going to do all the things that make up all the places and it’s going to be so magical. And then. Reality does set in. You know, it took me a long time to learn how to ride him. I fell off a lot and then I fell off a lot more. We finally hit our groove. We finally did move up after five years to the three, threes. And then. This conversation over the summer that we had to have, the realistic conversation was that. We should do the adults for the rest of our career together. Because I am not practicing enough. I’m not getting it well enough that he’s comfortable with the three three and it’s bad horsemanship to keep trying at that level. Unless I’m going to change my lifestyle, which I’m not. And you know, it’s got me thinking a lot about the horse shopping process because I did totally come into it with all the dreams. I did give it everything I had, I. Moved around my life. I made mountains happen. And I don’t know if you had told me when I was shopping that I would do this horse in the three foots forever. I probably would be like, somewhat disappointed, but like, now that I’m here, I. I’m way more proud that this horse has taught me to ride so much better than. You know, all of those things I thought I wanted. And again, it comes back to this like psychology that’s so interesting. And there is so much human psychology wrapped up into the horse shopping process because it is so exciting because every horse you get might be the horse that changes your life and changes your career. This horse changed my life, didn’t really change my career, but you know, not in the ways that I expected, but I’m open to that. And I don’t know how to like, kind of communicate that to people also.
Geoff Case [00:45:03] Well, that’s a tricky thing. I think the first the first part of that is for especially when you’re talking about buying horses for a kid and having the discussion with the parents and the child and all that stuff. You know, I think the first thing to realize as we’ve covered many times is that horses are animals. It’s not you can’t mess in. And the fit between rider and horse is so important and the growth of the rider is important. And that’s another thing that I think it’s honestly easier to predict the growth of a horse than it is the growth of a rider. Because like you said, everybody’s got different lives outside of horses. You know, some people are able to homeschool their their child, get them tutors in Florida. They can be immersed in it 24 seven, they can ride a bunch of horses. They can afford to have four or five or six horses. They can walk through the gate a lot. You know, that rider is going to progress faster just by sheer repetition than the rider that has to go to school. Monday through Friday. They hop on a plane Friday afternoon. They’re lucky if they can squeeze in a Friday lesson before they show on the weekend. And then Sunday afternoon they’re back on a plane to start school or work on Monday. You know, just any sport, whether you’re talking about riding, tennis, baseball, soccer, and you hear it a lot from coaches and other sports reps, repetition, like that’s for the most part, how most most people get better. And I think you have to have that discussion. You know, how does this horse fit in your lifestyle? How much time are you able to commit to it? And, you know, at some point you have to assess sort of the innate talent of the rider, but, you know, have a realistic learning curve in your head and a realistic expectation for an ultimate outcome. But I always tell clients when I sit down with them and we do our yearly meeting and we’re talking about goals, you know, I like to have them set, you know, six month goal, one year goal, five year goal. And I encourage them to be realistic, but at the same time throw out a couple of unrealistic goals. Maybe right now, today you think that’ll never happen. But I think as competitors and as people, it’s good to always have something to strive for, to strive, you know, something to reach for that. Maybe in the moment you feel like it’s beyond you and, you know, probably 90% of the time that doesn’t happen, but. You know, you get lucky every now and then and you run into a horse that’s maybe better than you thought and. You know, there’s a friend of mine years ago and he’s still riding and doing well, but they bought this is in the early 2000s. I actually know two people like that. They bought horses that were to be their equitation horses, well. My one friend. It was too much blood and everything to be an equitation horse. But he ended up instead jumping the Queen’s Cup in Spruce Meadows on it. Another guy who I was a huge fan of growing up from Michigan, I don’t know if you know his name is Brian Shook. He had a horse. One of my favorite horses I’ve ever seen is called Foriegn Affair and it was bought to be his equitation horse. Then when he aged out, it became a very good Grand Prix horse for him, you know, in the moment when these people bought these horses and you said, okay, you know, you’re going to buy this equitation horse and it’s going to take you and you’re going to go jump the Queen’s Cup at Spruce Meadows. Everybody would kind of sit around laughing like that’s completely unrealistic. But that does happen. And probably more often the flip side, you think I’m buying this young, talented jumper and it’s going to one day jump the Queen’s Cup. You know, it doesn’t make it whether you know, it doesn’t have that little last bit of. Whatever it is that turns a horse from a good horse to a special horse, whether it’s heart mentality, things that are difficult to assess in a trial. But I think you have to have. I don’t think it hurts to have lofty goals, but I think you have to have in your own mind. You know have a. Base, maybe not a basement, but sort of a middle of the road where you think, okay, like when you were buying your horse, let’s say 100%, this can be my adult hunter the rest of my life, 50% chance I’m going to go jump three six amateur to go to the National horseshow. And if you’re okay with that middle ground when you’re buying it, then you go forward. And if you get more out of it than you thought, you know, it’s a bonus. And I think that’s I think that’s tricky, too. And I think, you know, especially when you’re talking to parents about their child, you know, most parents believe that their. You know, child is Superman or Superwoman. And it’s hard to tell parents that. You know, I mean, it’s not realistic that Suzy is going to go to the Olympics. Because they’re you know, their parents feel like they’re they walk on water and they’re the greatest thing in the world. And it’s a hard conversation, but it’s one that if you can have it in the beginning, I think it saves a lot of bad feelings and ill will in the end.
Piper Klemm [00:50:08] And to be clear, no one ever told me this horse would jump 3’6″. That is complete defiance on my part.
Geoff Case [00:50:16] Well, but I mean, you know, you you you know, you bought that horse with with a glint in your eye and a hope in your mind and a dream in your head. And there’s nothing wrong with that, especially if you can then say, you know, I bought this horse on spec, you know, I bought this horse with the hopes that it would get there and you know, it didn’t. But I love it and I’m having fun and I’m doing well and I’m becoming and I’m becoming a better rider. [00:50:39]I think if you can buy a horse that makes you a better rider, you’ve made a good purchase. Especially when you’re talking about juniors or amateurs, because that’s the goal, right? There should be. The goal is not necessarily the blue ribbon in every horseshow. The goal is to improve. And if you improve a little bit in a little bit, in a little bit, it might take you longer, but you’ll eventually get to where where you’re going, I think. [24.0s]
Piper Klemm [00:51:06] And maybe, maybe that’s just the reframe. I love that. But like, yeah, any horse you purchase that makes you a better rider is worthwhile, you know, especially as a junior amateur, because I mean, and I would even argue as a professional because that’s an investment in yourself, in your career. And 100% unequivocally, this horse has made me better every single day.
Geoff Case [00:51:29] Well, and we have you know what? And who knows where it will end up. But like, for example, the chestnut mare that Taylor has now, when I bought it, when we tried it, when I bought it, I thought, okay, you know, like it’s a it’s a good, useful horse. It’s maybe not the most careful and doesn’t have a great lead change, but, you know, it was something to get Taylor in the ring in Europe and you know hopefully be able to jump some big enough classes well. We took it to its first horse show and it’s like electric, careful. Like it doesn’t rub the jumps like it’s a meter. 45 is from five rounds. It had one rail, which was Taylor’s fault and one rub. It hasn’t touched another jump. And obviously we’re pleasantly surprised by. How well it’s gone. But then even when you’re talking about a professional like Taylor. So in reality, we’ve jumped five rounds of meter 45 and she’s been fantastic. Taylor Taylor after about the second show. Is like you think like. Think this could be like a horse for World Cup finals and and world championships and, you know, Los Angeles and all that? Honey, we’ve jumped five rounds at a meter 45. It’s done that very well. I don’t have a crystal ball to tell you that it’s going to do that at meter 60. I don’t know. But also, you know, you have to even as you’re going along after you’ve bought the horse, as you’re continuing, you have to have, again, have some unrealistic goals, but also manage expectations, because you also could have. For whatever reason, your horse is really on it. You’re really on it. You have the week of your life. Your champion in the three three at a WCHR horse show, and then you’re like, next year we’re going to win at Devon And indoors and yada yada yada.. But you also have to say, you know, let’s do this for four or five, six horse horses in a row before we get too excited and too ahead of our skis here, you know, so I think not only in the buying process, but throughout the process with the horse, you have to you have to have goals, but also manage expectations a little bit.
Piper Klemm [00:53:35] And yeah, I mean, for sure. And this is all having a good relationship and good communication with your trainer or with whoever you’re working with, that it’s being reliable and and being honest and true to your word all the way through the process on all ends. And I think we can all do a little bit better this year. On sales, I think clients can come in more educated and be respectful of horse’s time better. I think trainers can either do the legwork or turn it, you know, some of the legwork over to someone they trust. If there’s an agent that they want to work with, if they’re truly overwhelmed and don’t have the time. And I think there there are lots of ways you can look at your own situation, too, and say, this is how we can do this better.
Geoff Case [00:54:26] And I think, too, once you’ve gone through all this and you’ve bought the horse and you’re going through the process, the next difficult discussion because we all are in this or should be in this. First and foremost, as Marcus Innings article that I think everybody in the world has read and shared. You know, we need to be, whether we’re professionals, juniors or amateurs, we’re in here because we love the horse. And once you’ve bought the horse and you’re using you as a as an example, you know, you’ve you’ve bought this horse and in your own mind, whether or not your trainer said anything or not, you had visions of jumping three six at the National Horse Show. And as you sit here today, you’re like, Well, it’s a wonderful three foot horse for me. Have that. You have to have that discussion. Am I happy with this or is the three six really my dream? And then if it really is, then you have to have the discussion with the client. Maybe it’s time to sell the horse. And that emotional component, the love of the animal. For a lot of people, it makes them difficult to it makes it difficult to say, okay, this horse has done everything we’ve asked of it. You know, we’re ready for the next one or, you know, it’s fallen a little bit short of expectations, but it’s still good at. You know, a certain level. And, you know, then when you’re marketing the horse, the client has to be willing to maybe they’ve bought a junior jumper, a low junior jumper with a hope of going to the highs and it goes in the highs and has one, two or three down every time. Then you have to say to the client, Look, I think if you really want to do the highs, we need to sell horse A and go shopping for horse B, but in order to sell horse, you’ve got to move down to the lows where it’s competitive. And that’s a difficult pill for a lot of people to swallow, too, because they feel like they should be jumping the highs and they feel like it’s a demotion to jump the lows. But if you want to make if you want to maximize your return on the horse you’ve already bought. You know, sometimes it’s smart to drop back a division and, you know, be really competitive and sell it. Is that. And I think that’s the next thing. That’s the difficult conversation between the trainer and the and the client is like, I know you love this horse and it’s been great for you, but you’re ready for the next one. So we really need to sell it and we need to put a realistic price on it when we’re selling it.
Piper Klemm [00:56:46] And I will be clear that the horse I am the disappointing to the horse, not the horse disappointing to me in my scenario. He would go do it for anyone else.
Geoff Case [00:56:59] Well and then that happens. And again, you know, when you’re talking about juniors and amateurs that have lives outside of horses, that’s something you have to consider. And like you said, it’s something you have to sit down with yourself and say, look, I work five days a week like I’m a weekend warrior and I’m competing against people that can eat, breathe and live it 365 days a year. I’ve got to be realistic about my consistency and my level of competitiveness against these people that that have these advantages over me. And, you know, maybe you’re not winning as much as you’d like, but when you do win, take a little extra pride in that because you’ve done that. With 20% the saddle time. As other people in your division. You know, I think it all you have to look at the whole scenario. You have to look at your life from 360 degrees and and look at your competition and realize that. Everybody, you know, I mean, everybody here has somebody that has a competitive advantage over them. You know, whether you’re talking about the the unreal bond that. KING The remarkable two years King Edward has had, and it might not have had that under a different rider. But that’s I mean, when you’ve got a horse in the stable that, you know, you can just bust out 95% of the time, you’re going to jump clear of meter 60. Very few people have that. So even when you’re talking about an even playing field of the top 20 riders in the world, having a horse and a bond and a like King Edward, that gives you a sustainable competitive advantage over everybody else. So some days you should be really happy to be second. Even though you want to win every time, you should be really happy to be second to King Edward, you know. And, you know, as you go down through the ranks, if you’re a kid that has to go to school five days a week and you’re competing against kids that are riding six, seven days a week in Wellington and you can jump up and win one here, they’re great. But, you know, the likelihood of you dominating versus someone that has that advantage over you. You know, that’s where managing expectations, I think, comes into play and then everybody can be happy.
Piper Klemm [00:59:13] Absolutely. Well, Geoff, thank you so much for joining us again and walking us through this. And and hopefully everyone can think about their own part of the sales horse process and what they can control and their emotions and their own psychology and what shiny objects we ought to get excited about and what actually makes the most sense for them.
Geoff Case [00:59:35] Yeah, I mean, I think is if everybody goes in with the idea that it’s not always a one size fits all approach, then you know, you can make it work for yourself and your client and hopefully buy a horse. That’s. A productive relationship for as long as it’s as long as you want it. And I think the more discussions you can have beforehand saves time, saves headaches, and allows people to focus on a smaller group of horses that might be the really appropriate ones versus trying to wrap your head around a large number of horses and trying to reach for something that’s maybe not realistic.
Piper Klemm [01:01:55] To learn more about anything we’ve discussed on today’s show, visit theplaidhorse.com. You can find show notes at theplaidhorse.com/Listen. Follow The Plaid Horse on all the social medias. You can subscribe to the print edition of the Plaid Horse magazine at theplaidhorse.com/subscribe. Please rate and review the plaidcast anywhere you listen to it. And if you enjoy this episode, please share it with your friends, I will see you at the ring!