The Modern Day Rules of Client Commissions When Buying and Selling Horses with a Trainer

BY TPH Staff

When talking about a horse’s price tag, there can be some confusion on what that includes – especially when it comes to commissions when buying or selling your horse with a trainer.

The most important thing is to have a clear understanding – no matter what side of the deal you’re on.

“If there is a horse, and the price tag is $50,000 for example, I will operate under the understanding that is the price the seller is asking the buyer to pay if they want to make an offer on it. If it’s $50,000 for the horse, then they pay $50,000 to the to the seller. If I was acting as the trainer for the buyer, I would then charge a commission on that sale price, which in that hypothetical case is $50,000, and that would be paid for by the buyer. If I was the selling trainer and trying to sell this horse for a client of mine and I got $50,000 for it, then I would charge a commission on the sale of the horse. So, to me, that’s the industry standard of how I would operate. That’s why it’s important to have transparency and have buyers and sellers understand who’s getting paid what and how much,” Michael Tokaruk, top rider, trainer and judge who also runs a training and sales business, Tokaruk Show Stables, tells Piper on The Plaidcast.

According to Geoff Case, rider, trainer and large “R” judge based in Wellington, Florida & Lexington, Kentucky, there’s two fairly distinct scenarios. The first one being whether the trainer is purchasing a horse for their client or whether they are selling a horse for their client.

“If you’re involving a client in the scenario, then I think the most important thing is to have a clear understanding from the beginning. For example, selling a horse for a client. What I do is I say, ‘how much do you want in your pocket?’ Then, there’s no surprises when it comes to commissions. Because oftentimes, I feel like customers will be a little unclear with their trainer when they’re trying to sell their horse. For example, I want $50,000 for the horse. Then the trainer goes out and proposes it to another trainer at $50,000. Trials happen, and the deal gets done. But the buyer is paying their trainer 10% on top of the $50,000 to get horse get sold, which should have been agreed upon beforehand. Then, the client says, ‘Well, I’m not paying you commission – I wanted $50,000 in my pocket.’ So, I think that’s why there needs to be a clear discussion on either end when listing the horse for sale,” explains Case.

For those looking for their next horse, it’s also important to consider the time your trainer is spending looking for your dream horse and your commitment level to that trainer. This is because trainers are essentially ensuring that they will do as much as humanly possible to make that horse work in their program for as long as they can.

There really needs to be a little more understanding in that regard between clients and trainers because I think that most of the time if you’re riding with someone, regardless of the level, you’re committed to them being your trainer. I think there needs to be more faith from the client put into the trainer that they are trying to do their very best and find that needle in a haystack and do what is best for the client. I think if you don’t have ‘that feeling’ with your trainer, you’re potentially with the wrong trainer to begin with,” says Case.

To read the full podcast transcript or listen to the full Plaidcast episode, visit