From sellers not being honest, to professionals not caring for their animals, to boarding barn drama I've watched quite a bit of negative stuff unfold on social media recently.
Choosing a professional to work with can be daunting (with so much at stake) but there are a few things horse lovers can look for to hopefully avoid getting taken advantage of.
1. Selling green horses/unbroke (old enough to be started) without at least 30 days of riding.- A reputable trainer knows that takes months and years to create a solid mount and that you can not know a horse's true nature, deposition, and ability in just a few rides. Those who offer horses with less than 30 days are usually more interested in the money than the horse and the person who ends up buying them.
2. In depth Testimonials- It's super easy to say someone is great. Look for testimonials with real sustenance and reasons why someone is great instead of generic buzz words. And of course the more in depth/detailed testimonials the better.
3. References and Referrals- A reputable trainer should have scores of happy customers of whom are more than willing to share their experiences with others if asked. If you are considering putting a horse into training or buying one ask to be put in contact (or seek them out for yourself) with people who have done the same.
4. How they keep and talk about their own horses- Is every horse on the place (unless a single rescue or two in rehab) in excellent shape? Are they super secretive about their horse life? If they are on facebook (and use it regularly) do they talk about and share their personal horse life like a regular horse lover?
5. If they regularly offer horses for sale who is buying them?- A professional with a good local reputation will usually have local/regional people seeking out and buying their horses.
6. How and how often they advertise?- Everyone has to start somewhere but if a professional has been in business for awhile and has a good reputation they usually don't have to advertise for new clients every single week.
7. General life stability/ consistency- Everyone moves from time to time and has an occasional rough patch but constant turmoil and change in a professional's personal and or professional life can also be a red flag.
8. Birds of a feather tend to flock together- shady professionals usually get a long fairly well other shady professionals. A person's personal and professional connections can provide some insight into one's character.
9. Can you see the results/ improvement?- If you run across clients of a professional and or horse's they've sold how are they? Every professional has a few clients who don't listen (or are not there best representation as to what they can do depending on the circumstances) but as a whole their should be some constancy in a professional's work as seen by the public. If someone you know starts working with a professional can you see good improvement at a reasonable pace (considering the circumstances)?
10. Talk with other equine professionals- Farriers, feed stores, and other equine service professionals can provide much needed insight into the real workings and business practices of a professional you are considering working with.
Of course the above list is only one person's opinion and cannot be accurately applied to every equine professional in every situation, but in creating this list I hope to help horse owners seeking help and horses to avoid getting taken advantage of by those who give the profession as a whole a bad reputation.