Dear Appy, Good intentions aren’t working


(What is most humorous to me is that this is based off of a true story)

Dear Appy,

I’m writing for advice. I’ve found myself pretty blue lately and a little desperate for a job. It all started a few months back when my special girl Suzy suddenly stopped coming out to see me.

Last week her driver stopped by the ranch, her name is “Mom”. Mom brought me some carrots as usual but I overheard her talking to Trainer and she mentioned that Suzy was away to some place called “college” and that they would need to sell me!

Naturally at first I was shocked! Then I was sad, but mostly I was terrified of this pending change. Eventually I realized I should be looking at the bright side. After all, I have been very lonely lately and pretty darn bored. Even before Suzy left she had not taken me to the big pony party to compete in a couple of years. Perhaps this was my chance to meet a new best friend, get back to the pony party, and jump the sticks in the show ring while hearing the delight of the crowd?

I decided to embrace the opportunity.

Ugh….. I’m droning on again.

This is all beside the point, here is the tricky situation that I am finding myself in…..

After numerous suitors that I did not care for, which I made very clear during the tryouts, I have firmly made my choice on who will be my next human. She is medium height, awkward build for a human but very kind. She doesn’t ride very well but I can feel her love for it when she is up there. Ironically she also has a driver that’s called “Mom”. 🤔 Anyways, she has come to try me on two occasions now and for some strange reason she likes to spend more time sitting in the dirt then other humans. Though she always looks up at me and smiles which melts my heart. I think she needs me to take care of her but how do I convince her trainer?

First Day: she awkwardly climbed up on my back and took a moment to find her center. It was love at first ride for both of us! The walk and trot was glorious. Could it be? Had I found my person? We were both so excited that when it came time to canter she booted me forward and I obliged…. she produced a swift gymnastics backwards tuck and roll but unfortunately did not stick the landing. 🤭 Oops….. *note to self: girl not ready for a gallop. I quickly adjusted my approach and on the next try I quietly loped away. Everyone was thrilled.

Second Day: Trainer decides its time to jump the sticks. As we turned the corner and she pulled me towards the jump my adrenaline surged, FINALLY! The moment I have been waiting for to show off my stuff!!

4 1/2 strides away, I can feel the wind in my ears,

3 1/2 strides away, this is going to be so incredible,

2 1/2 strides away, I wonder why she’s not making an adjustment yet

1 1/2 strides away…… ummm, does she not realize? Oh god, I’m on my own here. Starting to freak out. Get a grip Nepolian you can solve this! I’ve got this!! We’ll just go impressively long, the trainer will love my style!!

Leap! Stretch! Tuck those knees! Land!

Oh dear god! She forgot to two-point!!

And there she is again sitting in the dirt. Coming immediately to a walk I circle back around to her and she’s looking up at me with a grin. 🤷‍♀️

Meanwhile the trainer is barking at her to get back on and give it another go. Perfect, I still have a chance to show this trainer that I’m the one.

Once again, adrenaline pumping yet a bit nervous this time.

5 1/2 strides away I can feel the wind in my ears

4 1/2 strides away, what if she doesn’t measure again 🤔

3 1/2 strides away, what if she forgets to two-point again?

2 1/2 strides away, she’s nervous and grips me with her legs. Are we late? Should I speed up? Does she want a move up? But that didn’t work out last time, I’m so stressed 😥

1 1/2 strides away, her trainer yells “two-point” so she does. I can’t leave from here, it’s still too far, my outstanding long effort last time made you fall, oh god! you’re not ready for those…… at the very last second I made the only logical conclusion to be made…… a hard chip. That’s it! A super short will do!! With the prowess of a cat I skillfully squeezed that extra stride in and still cleared the sticks perfectly!!

Boom! Over my shoulder she went!!

This time producing a small cloud of dust in her wake. I halted to avoid stepping on her and stared down at her in disbelief. And there she was looking right back up at me with that shitty grin.

Why does she insist on playing in the dirt? Doesn’t she know there will be plenty of time for that later AFTER they buy me and bring me home to love me forever! How will I ever convince the trainer now?

The trainer shaking her head mumbled something about “twice in the same day is enough for now.” Clearly Disappointed, the girl lead me back to the barn for my cookies and spa treatment.

Please help me Appy!!! What if they don’t come back? What should I do if they DO come back? I don’t know, maybe she needs glasses? She clearly needs me to take care of her. How can I show the trainer that we can jump the sticks successfully TOGETHER?


Desperate Jumper Pony

Dear Napoleon,

First off I’d like to commend you for handling the absence of your first girl so well and learning to see the bright side, looking to the future for new adventures.

Second, it really seems like you have put your best hoof forward to try to make this work. You must really care for this young lady. For both your sakes I hope they decide to give it another shot and come back for a third trial because it takes a special pony to truly want to take care of their rider!

The good news is that I have the solution for you!! I call this move the “One, Two, Trot step”

Next time you are cantering your way up to the low sticks and you find yourself in an awkward position it is not necessary for you to go leaping long or chipping short. Instead, you should try the “One, Two, Trot step” directly in front of the jump. This uses less effort and allows you to keep your back flatter over the top. I learned this well back when I was a school pony. This little maneuver would save me from getting pulled in the mouth, banged on the back, or flailing spurs along my side.

Perhaps if you try it in your tricky situation she will stay on at last!!

I wish you the best of luck! Please do keep in touch.


Dear Appy

*update: Napoleon wrote back. It turns out that the potential buyers did in fact come back for just one more attempt. Napoleon once again had found himself placed in front of the sticks at the worlds most awkward position. He gritted his teeth, prayed that my advice would work and stuck those last two trot steps in right in front, gracefully carrying his back AND his rider over the top and safely to the other side. TOGETHER!

The Trainer cheered!

The Girl grinned!

The Driver whipped out the checkbook!

And they all lived happily ever after!!!


Letter From a Miniature Horse


Dear Appy Pony,

I am 1 and ¾ years old. (The ¾ is an important distinction)

I have heard my human refer to me as a “Miniature Horse” and while I may be closer to reaching the grass then others I feel VERY big inside!!! I’m just not sure how to show her this??
I don’t feel like anything about me is Miniature and I really want EVERYONE to know just how BIG I really am, especially my human!!!!
I have tried a few ideas of my own:
First, I tried standing upright on my hind legs to give the appearance of being taller but this was not kindly acknowledged. My Second attempt was when the muck cleaner came in to my corral. I had been standing there just brainstorming all day and then it came to me like a bolt of lightning. I thought maybe if I showed great force then they would see how BIG I truly am inside. In a flash of adrenelian, and without really putting enough thought into the action, I took both back legs and power kicked him with all my might!!
“That should do it” I thought initially. “I bet he wasn’t expecting me to be nearly THAT strong.” The impressive force did knock him back at least an inch BUT instead of being impressed, the rest of the muck cleaning crew fell to the ground laughing hysterically. My bravo was instantly deflated. I was ashamed and all I could do was just tuck my tail and hang my head. I found the nearest corner to go get lost in and if there had been a big rock then I’m sure I would have found a way to climb right down underneath it.
I need help!!
Please help me to show them how big I really am inside!!!


Mini Mighty Might

Dear MMM,

The passion displayed in your letter makes it clear to me that you indeed have a VERY big heart! And your stories show me that you are creative, inventive, and even Wiley at times. I am confident that in time everyone around you will come to see all these amazing attributes.
I know that at 1 years old……….. excuse me, I mean 1 and ¾ years old it may be hard to find patience but you should try to let time tell the true story.
Also, be PROUD to be a Miniature Horse, it is quite an honor. After all, I bet your human spends a ridiculous amount of money on you every month and you don’t even have a formal job to speak of? Why? Simply because you are a Mini and being a Mini seems to carry some sort of unspoken title to Royalty. A title where you are certain to be financially provided for just for being you. There are not many breeds that can lay claim to financial independence like that. Don’t be afraid of who you really are, learn to wear your title with pride and your size will shine through as well.
Dare to be you.


Appy Pony

Horse Purchase Agency Contract Idea for my Trainer Friends


Hello Barnyard Friends,

Sorry I have not been on writing lately! Being a veteran schoolmaster pony I find my summers to be VERY full teaching all the little ones the ropes. A very important job that requires my utmost attention to detail (of course, that is to assure that I receive a plethora of horse treats and carrots)
Once summer was finally a wrap I think I took a whole month to nap!! Now I am refreshed just in time for the Halloween Pony Costume party next week, one of my favorite times of the year.

Anyways, I am writing today on a more serious note. Having the advantage of many years and very big ears I end up listening to much confusion regarding the commission prices collected on sale horses. The trainers may feel that there hard work and countless hours is not being properly reimbursed while the client may feel they are actually paying too much.

In my humble Appy opinion this comes down to proper communication. Communication between trainer and client is the real key to any successful negotiations. There are many different ways to approach this but I have taken a moment to write up a very simple contract that helps initiate such communication.

Please remember that this is in no way a “Legally accurate” document, or even a final draft of any kind. I’m just a pony for goodness sake. Rather you should simply view it as a good place to start and then adapt it to suit your needs.


A quick blurb about your qualifications and/or services provided.

Outline your price: Example
Our commission is simple: We charge 10% of the purchase price This fee is used to cover all the different Trainers, Instructors involved, Grooms, and/or head hunters that were used along the journey to finding your perfect match. ___________________________________________________

When is this commission paid? The commission is paid in 2 stages.
A portion of your commission is paid during the search. Along your journey you will need to pay for all services that involve our labor such as trial lessons, trainer rides, evaluations, time spent at vet checks, arranging shippers, time spent communicating with sales barns, meetings exceeding 15 minutes in length, etc etc. This is charged at a simple discounted rate of $50 per hour (or insert your price) including travel time and applies to all services provided within a 100 mile radius of Stables. This total amount paid Along-The-Way will be billed monthly and will be credited towards your final 10% commission owed.

A final payment of the remaining 10% is due after you have found and successfully purchased your new horse. This helps to cover our years of experience, professional opinions, expertise in the field, extensive contacts and connections, as well as any commission tips to 3rd parties that were needed to steer us towards the right horse along the journey. *If the “Along-The-Way” expenses that you have already paid exceeds the 10% commission amount there will be no additional commission fee charged. In this case your financial obligation will be complete with the payment of just the Along-The-Way expenses. ___________________________________________________

Important Note Hard Costs such as: Hotel expenses for client and trainer, plane flights for client and trainer, and meals for longer trips will be the responsibility of the client at the time of purchase. These expenses do not factor in to the commission in any way. All costs, including hourly labor for out of town trips exceeding 100 miles should be negotiated between client and trainer prior to each trip.
(tailor this section to suit your needs)

Please sign and date acknowledging that you understand these terms _________________________________________   

In addition, you might want to elaborate more inside the contract itself OR maybe just include a Frequently Asked Questions page like this one.

Q: What if the seller is also in our same barn? A: If ________ Stables is representing both the seller and buyer in a “in house” arrangement then the commission will simply be split between both parties. Reduced to 5% each

Q: What if I decide just to lease a horse? A: The same commission applies to leases as does to sales 

Q: What if there is no sale or lease price as in the case of rescue or adoption? A: Then just the “Along-The-Way” expenses will apply.

Q: What if I change my mind and decide not to buy a horse at all? A: You may back out of the horse shopping process at any time. In this case only the “Along-The-Way” expenses would apply.

Q: What if I end up purchasing a horse entirely by myself or through another agent after you have started the process of searching for me? A: It is always your choice to use our service or not use them at any time. If you truly came to a purchase arrangement entirely outside of the assistance of __________ Stables then only the “Along-The-Way” fees will apply and no final payment of 10% commission will be charged.

Q: Is it possible for my “Along-The-Way” expenses to exceed 10% of the purchase price? A: Yes. For example: If you are looking for a very inexpensive pleasure horse or maybe you want to hold out for an incredible deal, then it may take us much longer to find it for you. It may also require extra research and many more inquiries and trials to find exactly what you are looking for in that price range. You will still owe for all the services “Along-The-Way” that you have required in your search but you will NOT owe any further commission price.

That’s it! I hope it helps.

Happy Huntering

Buy A Pony – Doodle Poetry


Pony hug

If you’re ever sad or lonely,
You should buy yourself a pony

He can be your bestest buddy,
Better than a brand new puppy

I had one, then two, then three
They are fun, you will see

When your feeling very down,
Just hop right on and ride around
And Maybe with a bit of luck,
You’ll buy a pony that does not buck

Pony buck

He’ll cheer you up on the saddest day
He’ll make your troubles melt away
He’ll teach you patience and he’ll play
And just for fun he’ll disobey

Four, then five, then six and seven
My back yards like pony heaven
Eight, then nine, then ten and twenty
Please buy a pony, cause I have plenty

*credit to Kameela for inspiration on the first line

Pony group

Dear Appy Pony, I suffer from Canter-itis


Dear Appy Pony,

I believe I have Canter-itis.
I am so sick of cantering!!!!
In fact, I’m pretty sure that I’m allergic to cantering now.
It would be just fine with me if no one ever asked me to canter again.

        You see, each day I try my best to teach children to ride in our barns riding school. I am a large pony and I seem to have become the riding schools favorite lately. However, when it comes to teaching the canter I am very fed up!
         First, the student and the trainer will stand around talking about “how to canter” so long that I often accidentally fall asleep. Then, abruptly waking me from the middle of a lovely dream I find the kid flailing around on me saying the command “canter”. Trying to wake up the rest of the way, I am a bit confused and dazed, but I try to obey and I begin to speed up towards the canter. Next thing I know the kid is leaning really forward over my shoulders for some unknown reason and I begin to struggle to pick up my lead. She is staring down like there is something very interesting just in front of my next step and this makes me nervous about my footing. All this is running through my head while the kid is still flailing her limbs, leaning forward, staring down and verbally commanding me to the canter. Finally I am able to muster up the energy and balance to canter despite my rider. Proud of myself for overcoming all odds I begin to feel a familiar canter rhythm. BUT then, to my shocking surprise, within the first 3 steps of the canter the kid clenches up into a little ball and pulls tightly on my reins. Obviously scared half to death I am now questioning my memory of the previous events.
She did ASK for the CANTER did she not?
I didn’t just dream that did I?
I hope I didn’t scare her by accidentally reading her wrong and picking up the canter.
        Worried and concerned, I safely break to the walk so she can regain her balance and for us both to carefully consider whether she actually wants to canter or not. That’s when the kid starts to immediately flail around again in frustration, batting me with her whip and shouting “Why won’t she keep cantering?!”

Argh!!!! So frustrated!!!

Asleep at the trainer. Flailing child leaning out forward and way over my neck. Stare suspiciously down. Yank on reins until I walk. Whack! Whack! Whack! …… and repeat.
That pretty much sums up my confused existence right now.

I need advice, Please help!


Maggie Moo

Dear Maggie Moo,

       I would like to start off by Thanking you for your selfless service as a Riding School Pony! We need more wonderful ponies like you in the world to help children fall in love with us and everything we can offer.

       Coming from a riding school background myself, I am very familiar with your particular problem. There are a few tactics that you can employ, I am not sure which one will work best in your particular scenario.

PLAN A: Play Dumb
If you have thick skin and can handle the constant use of a crop and spurs then you can always try the “play dumb” tactic. This means that when your child begins to ask, just look really surprised and keep trotting around like you have no idea what the word “canter” means. Be sure to breath hard like you are really working it and maybe even throw in a small stumble when you have reached that faster unorganized trot. This will give the impression that you are working as hard as your little hooves can carry you but just still do not understand what is expected. As though the gait “Canter” just doesn’t exist.

PLAN B: Intimidation
It is a well-known fact that if you sufficiently intimidate a child rider then they will stop requesting you to complete that action. Wait for the student to begin asking for the canter, right at that moment show your extreme distaste for cantering by kicking out towards the fence. Being careful not to lose the student but just enough to jostle their confidence and make them re-consider the desire to canter. Bonus points if you can connect with the fence creating a loud intimidating clamor. If they are not truly ready to canter then this tactic works pretty well.

PLAN C: Teaching the student not to lean forward
If playing dumb does not work and the child is not easily intimidated, then move on to “Plan C”. The child will take the rail and begin asking you to canter. You will move forward into the trot for speed and when she leans out forward towards your neck come to an abrupt halt while dropping one of your shoulders. This is a bit of the “tough love” route because the child will end up on the ground a few times. But he/she will quickly learn that leaning forward while asking for the canter is not going to produce the desired effect.

Good Luck!

Love and Carrots,

Appy Pony


Dear Appy Pony, My girth is too tight!!!


Dear Appy,

My girth is too tight!!

I don’t understand, I have stuck with the same routine for years but this past week I am finding that my girth is just too tight. It feels like it happened overnight? I am a little embarrassed to share this with my stable mates, and this is why I am writing to you anonymously. You see, I am the type of helpful horse that is always giving desperately much needed advice around the barn on what each one of my stable mates should can do to improve their outward appearance. I’m afraid that if word leaks out about my girth, they will all think I’m a hypocrite or even worse…… a fraud :-O

Well sure, the rumors are true. I use to have a weight problem a while back. But that is in my past now. I was living in the open pasture next door and I will shamefully admit that in addition to grazing on the pasture grass all day I also had a nasty little habit of hording all the hay piles to myself, not allowing my pasture mates to eat much. BUT, since being put to work as a Fabulous Show Horse I’ve really trimmed up. I live in my own show stall, plenty of fresh shavings and high quality food. I am exercised regularly through various routines to strengthen and tone me to perfection. I really have been enjoying my new look and I love all the attention I get when I prance and snort around our barn like a filly. My self-esteem has sky rocketed this past year and the judges have realized how beautiful I really am. I strut around the show arena with my head held high, my glorious long mane and tail flying free in the wind and my stunningly dishy face is perfectly sculpted to bring out my large nostrils and big eyes. However, last week when we began to prepare for our next show my Owner began to fuss over our outfits. I’m sure she was just trying to make sure she looks as spectacular as me but she changed out some pads and tack and now I have noticed all week that my girth has been too tight!!!!! And…… (leaning in and looking suspiciously from side to side to make sure no one else is listening) it is even set on the last hole on both sides!!! Yikes! Perhaps you have insight to why this could be happening. I have included my food journal in the hopes that it may help as well.

Daily Feed: AM: 1 Thin flake Alfalfa
Noon: 1 Mediumish Bucket of tasty brown stuff mixed with lighter brown mashy stuff and topped with 3.5 carrots, as well as something sweet drizzled on top
PM: 1 Flake Bermuda (blah)
Repeated daily

I really appreciate any help you can give.


Worried and Slightly Bloated

PS. I know of a great product to reduce the signs of premature spots if you are interested in taking care of those nasty little things?


Dear Worried and Slightly Bloated,

I’m not sure that the “tight girth” of late is the kind of bloated you are referring to, as I see another area of your life that could use some improvement. However, since that is what you wrote in about then let me give you a few ideas:
– Is it possible you have been holding your breath? This can cause a girth to appear to be too tight.
– Has the quantity of Brown, lighter brown, of sticky feed increased lately?
– Have you been reaching thru to your neighbors and sneaking extra hay?

– Most likely, your Owner has purchased a new stylish girth to match your whole wardrobe but miscalculated on her measurements. It is probably not your bloated belly (or your bloated ego) but actually just a shorter girth. One way to fix this is to intentionally hold in as much breath as you can the next time she goes to tack you up so that the girth does not fit at all. Then she will be forced to go grab the old one. After the old one had been fastened you can then let out your breath and feel comfortable for the entire ride.

I hope this helps.

Love and Carrots,

Appy Pony

Murphy’s Laws


So true!

The Rubber Curry Comb

Murphy’s Horse Laws

There is no such thing as a sterile barn cat.

No one ever notices how you ride until you fall off.

The least useful horse in you barn will eat the most, require shoes every four weeks and need the vet at least once a month.

A horse’s misbehavior will be in direct proportion to the number of people who are watching.

Your favorite tack always gets chewed on, and your new blanket gets torn.

Tack you hate will never wear out and blankets you hate cannot be destroyed.

Horses you hate cannot be sold and will out live you.

Clipper blades will become dull when your horse is half clipped.

If you approach within fifty feet of your barn in clean clothes, you will get dirty.

The number of horses you own will increase to the number of stalls in your barn.

Your barn will fall…

View original post 41 more words

Dear Trainers, A MUST read about CA laws regarding Horse sales and Commissions


These are not NEW laws but I have found that they are widely unknown or intentionally over-looked laws regarding Horse Sales and Commissions.

Dear Trainers,

      Being an old and wise Appy, with extra large ears, I hear an awful lot of Barn gossip and drama. One topic that has come to my attention recently was the wide variety of practices amongst trainers when buying or selling horse’s for their clients. I might not be the most popular Appy for bringing this sensitive subject to my Blog but I’ve never claimed to be terribly PC in the first place.

      We all know that helping a client to purchase or sell a horse can sometimes lead to treading on uneven footing. Whether it is a matter of simply not understanding the California Laws or having to work with a less than ethical agent on the other end, things can get stickier than my favorite Molasses treats. Furthermore, with a Trainer’s labor intensive job that tends to be underpaid I realize it can be very tempting to accept incentives that may be offered to entice you towards a certain horse for your clients over another. This causes a “Conflict of interest” and believe it or not, IT IS ILLEGAL. (unless you fully disclose these amounts to both parties ahead of time, more about that later)

Here are some Quick Spot points for starters that Trainers and Agents NEED to know when buying, selling, and representing:

SPOT # 1. You MUST disclose your commission, IN WRITING, to your client.
This includes ANY monetary gain that you will be making from the sale or purchase of the horse.

SPOT #2. Be careful when accepting a payment that will be going directly through you because again, you need to remember that ANY monetary gain that results from that horse’s sale or purchase MUST be disclosed in writing to your client.

SPOT #3. Double dipping is ILLEGAL.
This is when a trainer or agent accepts a commission from the seller as well as the buyer. It is an obvious conflict of interest and the only way this is allowed is if both parties, the seller AND the buyer, show their consent and knowledge of the arrangement IN WRITING.

SPOT #4. Standard commission for the horse industry is 10% – 25%.
Though, any monetary compensation can be arranged so long as all parties are aware and consent to the arrangement, IN WRITING.

SPOT #5. Next, if you’ve ever been wrangled up by the law (or even watched a TV show) then you are familiar with the phrase “What you say can and may be used against you in a court of law.” This means you should be careful about intentionally misrepresenting or even being overly flamboyant about your claims of said horse. “It’s a perfect beginners child-safe horse. I’d trust it anytime” Yet the whole barn down the street from yours knows how many times it has left your arena at a bolt and come running into their property with a screaming child attached to its back. Hey, maybe it IS a wonderful child’s horse when it is in a small enclosed space, under supervision, after a 1 hour lunge and with the gate shut. I have known some great horsey friends of mine that just need to come with a few pointers from their previous humans to be successful. Just please remember, the truth is always best.

SPOT #6. Failing to obtain written consent from your client for your monetary gain off the sale or purchase of their horse can be punishable as a FELONY. (see the court cases [2] and [3] below as examples)

SPOT #7. Be smart. Protect yourself, your reputation and your client. Create a transparent contract and relationship with them. Include the sale price on the Bill Of Sale and have the Buyer and the Seller sign it themselves.
I know, I know, I feel like this may be a touchy spot and unpopular point that I am making. But if you really do not like this point perhaps you should re-read Items 1-6.

Current CA Laws:
For general purposes I will outline 3 important statutes that exist in California, Florida, and Kentucky. These are the 3 states that currently have laws specific to the sales of horses. But of course, I am not a lawyer, just an Appy Pony. So if you want up-to-date laws please search your own states laws carefully and if you want legal advice, please consult an Equine Lawyer.
1. A written Bill Of Sale signed by both parties that specifies the purchase price of the horse.
2. Written disclosure to both purchaser and seller of sales commissions (if the amount or value will be $500 or more; and
3. Written consent by both purchaser and seller if someone is acting as a dual agent.

To give a few easy examples of encounters I’ve witnessed:
I do not mean the type of padding that get’s stuffed under my neighbors shoe every 6 weeks.
You know what I am referring to….
Let’s say a trainer’s client, Lady NoLuck, asks him to sell her horse, Breakneck Bert. She tells her trainer that she wants to get $50,000 for Bert because of all the wonderful things he can do. The trainer has a friend that has a client that was searching for a horse exactly like old faithful BreakNeck Bert and has $75,000 to spend on this new horse of her dreams. The two trainers decide that it is a good match and that they will sell the horse for $75,000 but only give Lady NoLuck her asking price of $50,000, splitting the difference between them. Neither Lady NoLuck nor the daydreamy buyer are aware of this. THIS IS A NO-GO and is against the law

I recently had a common case of Dual agent in my own barn. There is a wonderfully fancy, yet entirely too egotistical pampered show pony that lives a few stalls down from me. Always prancing about and flaunting his many show ribbons up on the tack room wall. We will call him “Mighty Might” for this discussion. Anyways, Mighty Mights young child rider was sadly outgrowing him and facing the inevitable possibility of having to sell him. Being so impressive he quickly attracted the attention of other children in the barn and was purchased right away by another client of the same trainer.
No surprise there, sometimes I feel like he is all they can talk about. <rolling my eyes>.
The point is that the trainer acted wisely. She made sure that both parties understood that Dual Agent was unavoidable and that she was obviously representing both sides. She chose to act with complete transparency, discussing the merits of the pony, the pro’s and the con’s and made sure that all vet records were open for the sharing. She also let them know that there would only be ONE commission in total. This would be a 10% commission to be paid to the trainer, which would be split between both parties. After the buyer was satisfied and sure that they indeed needed to have the famous “Mighty Might” for their child rider then all parties consented to the arrangement in writing and the transaction was completed.
Now, you do not have to only accept one single commission of 10%. In fact, the law doesn’t even care if you charge BOTH your clients 110% each BUT it will need to be in writing and consented to by BOTH parties prior to the transaction.

Okay, last example but a very common mistake. Desperate Duey cannot pay for his horse, Two Buck Chuck, anymore and sends it to a trainer to take “on the cuff” to sell for him. “On the cuff” means that the trainer will incur some or all of the expenses for a time while selling the horse. They make an arrangement that Duey expects to get $15,000 for the horse even though the horse is worth more. He tells the trainer to sell it for whatever more he can get and that he is welcome to keep the rest. Sounds like an amicable arrangement given the risk and burden that the trainer must take to keep the horse while for sale. Also, so long as it is in writing, the Trainer is on the up and up with Duey and all is fine. However, here comes the sticky Molasses part. You see, Silly Sally rides at this same ranch and falls in love with Two Buck Chuck. She is a client of the same trainer and has just started looking for a horse of her own. She has $25,000 to spend. Silly Sally is relying on her trainers expert opinion and knowledge as to whether to buy this horse but the trainer stands to gain additional monetary value from representing the seller, Duey. So this is also a conflict of interest and falls under Duel Agent. It is a common and likely scenario, after all, the trainer must have liked and believed enough in the horse to be willing to take him “on the cuff” in the first place. Probably even more so than a monthly paying sales horse. Ultimately the trainer sells Sally the horse for $25,000 and pockets the $10,000 difference. Maybe the trainer is even feeling that the moral thing to do is not to charge Sally a commission at all, since he was technically making one from the seller.
But without disclosing the profit to Sally this is still ILLEGAL.
WHY? Because as Silly Sally’s trainer, the trainer owes the client something called “fiduciary duties.” Duties described as Loyalty, Good Faith, and Fair dealing. The trainer should not profit from the transaction without full disclosure of the profit to Sally.
You are probably thinking “WHAT? How am I suppose to make money in this business legitimately?”
Never fear, Appy Pony is here.
A solution to this would be to disclose your arrangement that you have with Duey to Sally. Add up the training, board, extra feed, advertising, transportation, grooming etc etc that you have put into Two Buck Chuck and that Duey now owes you out of the sale. Count that as reimbursement for services owed by Owner. Make sure this is carefully documented and true. Then let Sally know that Duey will be paying you a ___% commission for taking the horse on the cuff and selling the horse and this is why you do not feel the need to charge her an additional commission. It is not necessary to disclaim the low ball amount that Desperate Duey was willing to take for his homeless horse in his time of need, that is completely between you and Duey. Your discount for being in the right place at the right time and for being trusted by Duey does not need to apply to Sally. BUT it is necessary that Sally understands the profit, if any, that you are making from Duey to represent a horse that you are now selling to her.
Just like any other Duel Agent circumstance.
If we worked thru this it would look something like this:
Fair market Value of horse is estimated at $25,000 (and please be sure that this is the true approximate fair market value, after all you are negotiated a deal that is a conflict of interests. It is smartest to be fair to all parties involved) Maybe Duey owes you $5,000 in back expenses on Two Buck Chuck and is paying you a 20% commission on the sale price.
20% of $25,000 is $5000.
(20% – 25% or even higher is a common arrangement for a horse taken “on the cuff” because it can be risky for the trainer and is essentially a favor to the Owner as well)
The Trainers calculated “Profit” would be $5,000, that is the commission. 
This is what needs to be disclosed to Sally.
Sally is likely getting a great deal. She is buying a horse that she loves, for the right price, a horse that her trainer believes in, and she is saving a big commission off of it because it was in-house. Duey is getting a great deal because he couldn’t pay for the horse any longer and so would not have been capable of promoting it for sale himself. He would never have found Sally if not for you being willing to take the horse on the cuff. $15,000 is better than giving it away due to hardship at the end of the month.
Finally, the trainer has made a fair amount of money to reimburse for expenses and the leap of faith he took in the horse.
A win win for everyone and completely legal.

Courtesy of my Owner and the internet, here are some Example court cases for you to look at that show the gravity of ignoring these laws:

[1] Neal v. Janssen, 270 F.3d 328 (2001) In 1997, internationally known dressage trainer Sjef Janssen was commissioned to sell the Neal family’s horse, “Aristocrat”. In their agreement to one another the Neals were to pay Janssen a 10% commission on the sale price. A typical commission for the Horse industry. Once finding a buyer, Janssen told the family that he could only get $312,000 for Aristocrat. Janssen actually ended up selling the horse for $480,000 but did not disclose to the Neals the difference in price. Jansseen profited $168,000 plus his 10% agreed upon commission for $31,200. Later, the Neal Family learned the true sale price and sued Janssen for breach of fiduciary duty and fraud.  A jury awarded the Neal family $250,000 in compensatory damages AND $250,000 in punitive damages. This was not only unethical but ended up being a $500,000 mistake by Janssen.

[2] United States of America v. Kenneth Berlin, U.S. District Court, Richmond Virginia, Case #3:03CR0042-001 (2004) and
[3] United States of America v. Joshua Cardine, U.S. District Court, Richmond Virginia, Case #3:03CR00424-001 (2004)
The federal government successfully prosecuted criminal cases against Kenneth Berlin [2] and Joshua Cardine [3] in 2004. Both were Hunter/Jumper trainers located in Virginia.  Mr. Cardine and Mr. Berlin were alleged to be involved in numerous horse sales schemes in which they sold horses on behalf of their clients and then remitted only a portion of the proceeds to the clients, and in some cases remitted none of the proceeds. Both trainers pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and swindle of livestock in interstate commerce.
This is a felony.
Josh and Kenneth were sentenced to 18 and 21 months in federal prison, followed by three years of probation. The court also ordered the trainers to make restitution to their clients, or victims, in the amount of $94,300.

I hope my Trainer friends found this helpful!!

Love and Carrots,

Appy Pony

I would like to give credit to the following websites which helped me in my thirst for more knowledge.
– Equine Legal Solutions: BTW, they have some great contracts that you can purchase, if needed.
– Alison Rowe: Equine Law Blog
– HG Legal Sources

Dear Appy Pony, HELP! My trainer can’t steer!!!


Dear Appy Pony,

I will start by giving you a quick background of myself. I was born on a large beautiful race breeding farm to a mother that was a famous racehorse. But I don’t do well under pressure and needless to say, I failed to live up to my mothers expectations. The Owner of the track sent me away to something called an “auction.” Anyways, that’s all behind me now because I have a wonderful loving Owner who cares for me and spends lots of time with me. For the past few weeks we have had a wonderful time riding around the small circle arena together. I am a good listener and my new Owner is very soft and gentle with her cues. She seems to prefer that I do not go too fast and this life seems much lower in pressure to me.

One day recently, I could barely overhear a conversation between my Owner and a new “Trainer” as I was eavesdropping thru the tackroom/stall wall. I like to eavesdrop and do this often. If a human comes by I just quickly slacken my expression and pretend like I am merely napping and leaning up against that wall. The conversation was something about the trainer riding me, learning something new, vacation, I’m not really sure but they definitely said my name. I’m sure of that.

The very next day the trainer came to my stall to take me out instead of my beloved new Owner. I expressed my suspicion with a loud snort and a few steps backwards but the trainer seemed confident so I allowed her to halter me and I followed willingly to go get tacked up. This Trainer lady took me to a large arena on the other side of the property that had many different colored road blocks scattered throughout it. There was one that looked like a brick wall, another like a stone wall, and one even looked like a large mound or wall made entirely of grass. The trainer let me stop to stare and snort at the wall of grass but to my surprise it certainly didn’t smell like grass at all. Strange.
I was very nervous to be away from my familiar circle arena but I felt that I might somehow disappoint my beloved new Owner if I did not cooperate with this Trainer. So every day I tried my best to be brave.

I was pleasantly surprised the first few rides because once she was in the saddle we seemed to get along just fine, despite my previous suspicions. She was very talented at steering and managed to help me maneuver safely around the arena without crashing into any of these crazy looking roadblocks that someone had haphazardly left inside the riding arena. Each day I stepped out with more confidence and pretty soon we were going through all the usual paces together. I missed my loving Owner but I was beginning to like this trainer as a good substitute during whatever a “vacation” means. Until one day…………

One day, everything suddenly took a turn for the worst. It was like my trainer had completely forgotten how to steer correctly. One moment I am happily cantering around the arena in and around all of the road blocks and then the very next moment she is facing me directly at one!!! YIKES!! With the impressive prowess of a cat I managed to swerve at the very last second in a desperate attempt to correct our path and save us from impending doom. I’m still not sure how I narrowly missed that collision course she set us on, but I did. Only now this Trainer lady is hanging off my side with her arms wrapped around my neck screaming obscenities. In hind sight I think perhaps she was feeling ill and had lost her ability to correctly steer, I think I should have halted to assist her with her dismount but I had no idea that she wanted to get off. After what just happened all I could think was to panic so I began to do what I do best….run.

Now, you must understand that I am a very forgiving and understanding horse and so if this had been a one time incident I probably would not feel the need to seek your professional help but to my horror it has now happened every time she has taken me out for a ride. I even tried another strategy to help keep us both safe. After I had time to ponder on the event back in my stall I realized that bolting around and taking off running was forcing her to dismount at a high speed and only causing her to become more and more angry. One evening while brainstorming I came up with an excellent idea and decided to try it the very next ride. As usual we spent the first 15 – 20 minutes going through our paces easily but inevitably there came a time during our canter that she would point me straight at one of the road blocks. This time I resisted the urge to dodge and run. Mustering all my courage I faced straight forward to that daunting obstacle at hand, tucked my hind quarters as best I could and slid safely to a halt right in front. Unfortunately my plan was not perfect because the Trainer lady then went sailing over my head, over the roadblock and onto the ground on the other side. All my self control in mustering up a steady halt suddenly vanished and panic struck my heart once again. Before I knew it I was doing what I do best….. running like a half crazed maniac around the large arena. Like I said, I don’t do well with pressure.

I would love to ask some of the other horses at the ranch about this, perhaps this poor trainer has been struck by some kind of strange disease of the limbs that cause her to jerk the reins in a direction she is not intending? But I can’t ask anybody because my box stall is located between the tack room on one side and an aisle way on the other so I have no neighbors. My Owner says I cannot be turned out to play with other horse because I may hurt and injure myself, so I am at a complete loss and left in the dark.

Being ever determined to make my beloved Owner proud, when ever she returns, I decided it would be best to try and keep her Trainer friend as safe as possible. So my third and final attempt was during todays ride. I happily greeted her in the stall and willingly followed her to go get tacked up. I remembered that me and my beloved Owner had always had much success in the little circle arena and perhaps that is where this trainer and I belonged as well. So once we were mounted and headed across the property towards the large arena I planted all four legs with confidence and protested either of us going any farther then the little circle arena. For the safety of us both, this is as far as we go and that is final. I was so proud of myself for stepping up and taking the lead, for making the tough decision that needed to be made. If we were going to have a successful ride it was going to be back here far away from any hazardous road blocks.
To my surprise this Trainer lady did not seem to appreciate my concern for her well being. She began to throw a tantrum and the next thing I know there are whips and spurs and all sorts of devices I would never have expected would need to be utilized on a willing sensitive horse such as myself. The day was very traumatic and quite the blur and I would prefer not to go into further details but now you can clearly see why I desperately need your great wisdom and advice.

Please Help quickly!!

Alone and Misguided


Dear Alone and Misguided,

You poor thing!
I am sorry for you but at the same time I can’t help but smile a little at your very innocent mistakes. In your short few years of life here you probably have not had the opportunity to observe the spectacular event of Horse Jumping. This is where a rider intentionally steers a horse towards an obstacle with the expectation that the horse will jump into the air, clearing the obstacle and will land safely on the other side. If you want to impress your Owner when she comes back there are a few tips and pointers I can give you. The next time you are pointed towards an obstacle:

1. I am assuming due to your breeding that you were picked for speedy jumping. So step up your bravery, face that obstacle head on, increase to an impressive racehorse speed and sail into the air to conquer it.

2. Make sure to jump extra high with your legs for safety. They like that.

3. Help them to understand how much you enjoy your new jumping career by frolicking around in every corner after the jump.

4. No matter how tempting, DO NOT stop quickly to smell the flowers, that usually ends badly.

5. Sometimes the rider cannot be trusted to make clear decisions in front of the jump. So I find it best to grab a hold tightly of the bit with your teeth and take over the piloting when you are a few strides away. The rider may assume control back after you are done frolicking thru the corner.

6. I do not have this experience myself but I hear it is dangerous to jump anything Blue. So don’t.

7. Also, DO NOT jump anything that looks like there may be Trolls hiding underneath. Those suckers can leap up and grab your legs in the blink of an eye.

8. If you enter a competition. I believe the number of canter strides taken in between two jumps in a row are counted much like a golf score. The fewer the better.

9. I know you are worried about pressure at horseshows but if you make sure to snort like a dragon and prance around the show grounds when you are outside the arena waiting for your class it will not only intimidate your competition but it will get your lungs expanded to hold lots of oxygen, just in case you feel the need to hold your breath during your performance.

I am excited for your new possibilities. Embrace it and remember all my pointers!!

Love and Carrots,

Appy Pony