Things your trainer wants you to know about horse shopping

This year we’ve had the most lovely horse shoppers & their trainers who put the horses first and are clear about their expectations, needs & next steps. It makes life so fantastic when people are practical and thoughtful. Be like them.

We’ve also had shoppers who wildly oversold their abilities, treated the horses like machines and one that wasted both buyers’ and sellers’ time because they just wanted extra rides on fancy horses they had no intention of buying. Don’t be like them.

On that note, I present to you,

Things sellers & trainers want you to do when horse shopping:

Know your budget. 

Have to sell a kidney to buy that fancy big eq horse? Know that before you sit on it. You might decide you can live without that kidney to make it happen, but there’s nothing worse than falling in love with a horse you can’t afford. Nothing else you try will compare and you’ll be sucked into a cyclone or horse shopping sadness.

Be honest about your budget. 

This is NOT the same thing as knowing your budget. Once you know your budget, be honest with your trainer/agent/seller about what the budget is. Don’t let a seller waste their time or your trainer/agent tarnish their reputation by looking out of range. “30k with a little wiggle room” or “30k is pushing it” are different scenarios. Help us do our job by being clear about which it is.

Be honest about your abilities.

With both yourself and your agents. There is totally absolutely wholeheartedly no shame in being where you’re at. Where you’re at is super! You’re presumably getting this new horse so you can grow as a rider, and you’re not going to do that if you’re over-horsed.

Be clear about your goals and realistic about your availability.

This one is a little tricky, because not everyone knows what their life plan in the saddle looks like. It’s great to have some idea of what your goals are so you can evaluate if each horse is one that fits into that plan. 

I’m not saying to not buy the best quality horse you can afford, but if you’re currently riding training level dressage and eventually want to ride FEI but currently only have time to get to the barn three times a week – you do not need the I2 schoolmaster right now. In fact, you probably won’t even be able to get around on the I2 schoolmaster. Stepping stones my friends! I am a huge proponent of wanting to keep our horses for their lifetime, but sometimes the horse for where your abilities are now won’t be the horse for three years from now. Having a partner that can help you focus on your own progress will make your rides so much more fun.

If you’re a minor, let your trainer or parent reach out to sellers.

I know horse shopping is exciting. Woooo! And I know you have more time to scroll the internet than your busy trainer. But please send your trainer the options you’re interested in and ask them to reach out to the seller on your behalf. One of my biggest pet peeves is young riders asking a million questions about a sales horse that is in no way suited for them. The trainer would have known that the horse wasn’t for you from the first sentence of the ad. Please keep in mind that while it is fun for you to window shop online, this is our job.

Employ a trainer or agent to help you shop.

Please! Do it! I can’t tell you how many new clients we’ve had over the years who had purchased without the help of a trainer and ended up with a very unsuitable horse. I swear the commission is 100% worth dipping into your budget to have a trusted opinion. They are going to see and feel things that you just won’t. This is one of those times to employ a professional.

Try the horse thoughtfully.

When we try horses, we generally have the seller warm up the horse lightly (to prove it is sound and not insane), our trainer rides the horse lightly and tests more of the upper range of its stated abilities, and then the buyer takes a spin. As a seller, I am TICKLED PINK if someone wants to come back the next day and take the ride from the warmup to get the full feeling. Don’t be afraid to ask if the horse is a true contender. There are many factors to look for when trying horses and I’m going to do a separate post about that, but for now I’ll say it’s important to keep in mind that a brand new horse is never going to feel like home from the first moment in the saddle. Try to analyze the things that matter most to you (he has easy canter transitions, a comfortable trot, paid attention to you in the ring, etc) and then talk about those things with your trainer post-ride while it’s fresh in your mind.

PS: Don’t buy off video unless you are a professional – and even then, proceed with caution.

It’s ok to say no.

If you ask a question and the seller’s honest answer means the horse is a pass for you, go ahead and say so. We might be bummed but we will NOT be offended by someone who is clear and considerate about what they want.

Similarly, if you get to a barn and the seller is warming up the horse and you realize it’s way too hot for your anxiety level, or it’s dragging a toe significantly – tell them it’s not for you and don’t sit on it. Again, we will not be offended if you help us preserve our horses. *Disclaimer: If you’re just being picky because “oh his tail is not as pretty as I thought,” please get on the horse. Because that ugly tail might be the most magical comfortable creature you ever met under saddle.

Vet the horse.

And if a seller is encouraging you not to – run. But for the love of saddle pads, have reasonable expectations about what is acceptable, and know what your deal breakers are. 13yo horse who’s been doing the 1.20 job? Probably going to have some arthritis. 18.2h monster five year old? Probably going to have an ocd. Find a vet you trust who specializes in your discipline and believe them when they tell you something is or isn’t a big deal.

At the end of the day if you are realistic and enthusiastic then sellers and trainers will love working with you, no matter your budget or skill level. Happy shopping!

Have questions about specific scenarios? Shoot us a message!

Hungry for education

Can we talk about putting yourself out there?

There’s an article that has been circulating around DressageWorld regarding social media influencers within the sport. Color me cranky after being short staffed for a week but I’m feeling inclined to share my thoughts after reading some of the comments while I scarfed down dinner. 

Among other things, the author ponders, “whatever happened to the days when good riding and good horsemanship beat out sparkling pads and well-produced TikToks?”  

To postulate in this direction appears, to me, that we’re wildly overlooking the fact that most ‘good riding’ trainers don’t make themselves approachable or accessible. Nor, perhaps, do they even want to be. And further, those well-produced videos which are being condemned happen to attract people to our sport and give guidance to riders who might not otherwise have it. 

While the author’s general musings are actually less focused on social media and more on her own interesting and collaborative training journey, some phraseology has been spun to cast shame on those riders that utilize social media cleverly and with success. I’m not saying we should listen religiously to every rider who produces catchy reels, but must we judge them so harshly? At least they’re out there doing something in the best way they know how. We should be able to discern who to take advice from and who to just enjoy the content created. 

I’ll be the first to tell you that I want to ride with the best. Am I making a team? Heck no. But that doesn’t change the fact that I am hungry for education. I want to soak up every drop of information I can from trainers who I admire. I don’t think I’m alone in that quest. Sadly the revered masters that many of today’s top trainers were so fortunate to work under are no longer available to this generation of riders. But as my trainer often tells me, she feels it’s her duty to pass down the wisdom she learned from wonderful teachers along the way. I implore all the classically trained coaches to be generous with your earned knowledge. Lend us your guidance so that our community of hungry riders can find you, learn and improve. Isn’t that the point, after all?As a non-trainer farm owner, my own moderately successful use of social media has enabled our barn to stay busy. Which, in turn, means that I can bring a bevy of  fantastic ‘good riding’ trainers to the farm for clinics who would otherwise never visit our area. Yes, I utilize social media to better my business, but it is also the catalyst that enables my small way of giving back to the sport that I love so much. 

It’s a bit of a shame that all this hullabaloo has given me even a moment’s pause to wonder if I’m being lumped into this group of eschewed social media users. But that moment passed quickly. I’ll keep sharing topics I’m passionate about, trainers I respect and all the ammy riders I admire.

Be kind. Try your best. Share your passions. (Please.)

With love,
Someone who is doing their best while trying to learn as much as they can while they can 

Cheers to Two Years

As our second year of calling Copper Light home comes to an end, we’re incredibly thankful for the lovely people and horses that have made the journey so fun. As any horse person knows, it’s not always roses. But somehow we’ve managed to find the most wonderful group of boarders a gal could ask for, and an incredible support team from vets to farriers. You all make this work life pretty special, and I thank you from the bottom of my horse-loving heart for being a part of the Copper Light family.

Can you spot your favorite pone in the gallery?

The first person who can name each horse in order wins a free lesson! Bonus points if you know the dogs’ names. Message your answer to @copperlightfarm or

Holiday Gift Guide

‘Tis the season!

One of my very most favorite things about the holidays is the added bonus of supporting small businesses for gifting. It makes such a difference to local vendors and smaller brands, and is much more personal than that waffle iron on Amazon.

Rumor has it that shipping and production delays are going to be a bit of a bear this year, so we thought we would share some of our favorite finds from small and local businesses that we’ve personally added to the farm, gifted or received and LOVED. Perfect gifting awaits you! Fa la laaaaaa

We are not sponsored or receive any promotions from these brands other than Devoucoux, we just love these items!

Anything from SP Rhodes

I’ve had a long relationship with boutique branding firm SP Rhodes. They’ve helped with logo design, tack shop signage, saddle pads, awards, gifts, stall plates, barn signage and a full custom barn map dry erase board. I’ve been thrilled with every item we’ve received! 10/10 will order (lots) more.

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Tack Room Studio Whip Rack

Customize with their barn name or a cute expression, it’s functional AND a daily reminder of how sweet you are! Tack Room Studio offers multiple sizes and stains, plus oodles of coordinating items like this saddle stand!

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Anique Sun Shirts

It’s no secret that we love our Anique sun shirts. They’re just soooo cooozzyy. The fabric is so soft it doesn’t make sense, the colors are on trend and the cut is always flattering. If anyone is asking, I’m dying to add the ‘night’ color to my collection!

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Milk & Honeybell Bakery Cookies

(Or anything else they make for that matter) Part of our client gifts last year included these phenomenal cookies from local small baker milk & honeybell. They’re SO GOOD. We’ve also sampled some pastries and sourdough and have yet to be let down. Ordering available from Tuesdays on, follow their Instagram for the best updates.

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Kingfour Faux Antler Rack

So in round two of barn updates, I wanted a fun bridle cleaning station hanger for the south barn. I bought one of these faux antler racks as a test and loved it so much I got a second one for our home. The house rack is bronze (which is decidedly my favorite) and this one in the barn is black with rose gold tips, which is also pretty and many colors are available. It’s so simple, but so unexpected and fun! What’s life without a little whimsy?

Shown here with a custom saddle rack by Saddle Stackers holding a Devoucoux Biarritz Lab

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Devoucoux Bridle

Have you ever met an equestrian who wouldn’t be thrilled with the gift of tack? We thought not. We’re absolutely over the moon with our Devoucoux saddles and gear and can highly recommend their quality and comfort. Next on this rider’s wishlist is a blingy Harmonie bridle to match my saddle bling, but they also come in hunter, figure eight and other models. So much to love.

If you have any Devoucoux questions, reach out to Lindsey or Teigan and we’ll put you in touch with our wonderful rep Chloe!

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Highland Design Co Raised Dog Feeder

I like to think that our danes appreciate the elegance of their new custom stained water bowl, but if they don’t – I sure do! The seller was kind enough to customize the height, stain in their signature blend and adjust from the standard (and more chic) porcelain bowls to more basic stainless steel bowls for my dogs. Love this!

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Custom Wood Slice Bridle Hooks

I knew EXACTLY what I wanted in the tack room for saddle and bridle storage, but not many people could see my vision. I’m pleased to say that both came out better than I had imagined! This Etsy vendor kindly made samples and customized the bridle hooks to my specifications. I’m happy every time I see them.

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Fairfax & Favor Belts and Boots

I became an instant fan the first time I laid eyes on a pair of Fairfax & Favor boots jogging in a trot up. It’s no secret that we Floridians don’t get often get to enjoy the type of fall layering that normally comes with suede boots, but fret not! They also have super cute ankle boots, drivers, belts and an amazing bag collection.

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The gift of experience….


Who doesn’t love a riding lesson?! If you said you don’t, you might be in the wrong place, ‘cause around here we like to learn! The gift of a lesson with a good coach is such a wonderful treat. Some of our local favorites:

Teigan Mercer

Pam Sbarra

Claudia Tarlov

Meghan Michaels

Jackie Kinney


I’ve found that nearly all equestrians want riding or barn photos, but decidedly fewer are comfortable splurging on the experience. Why not take the guess work out of it for your favorite equestrian? A few photogs that we love:

Nicole Schultz / Boss Mare Media

Lauren Pitylak Fine Art

Erica Hills Photography