We have talked a lot about the cost of training a thoroughbred at the race track and what expenses are covered by the "day rate" that owners pay to a trainer, per day, for each horse in training.
There seems to be two methods currently in use by trainers at major tracks in the US for billing owners. Most trainers charge a daily rate per horse that will cover expenses OTHER THAN veterinary, farrier, shipping, race day pony and hotwalker, specialized equipment (halter with nameplate, blinkers in owner's colors, etc.) and specialized therapies (massage, chiropractics, etc.)
There seems to be a growing trend with smaller trainers who charge a lower day rate but then itemize every other expense down to bandages, supplements, administrative fees (bookkeeping, accounting, other office expenses), workers compensation insurance, dorm room or tack room rental fees, stall rent when stabled at non-active tracks, etc.
If you're an owner, which deal would you rather have? One method lets owners know what to expect in their monthly invoice, but with the itemization method, not so much. A trainer who itemizes the owner's bill has to be diligent about informing an owner ahead of time about possible upcoming expenses such as stall rent (generally at least $10/day which really adds up.)
With either method of billing, trainers have to be diligent about asking owners in advance if they are willing to pay for specialized equipment, supplements or therapies, or risk being saddled with paying those expenses themselves. If you are an owner it is not advisable to sign any binding agreement with your trainer that requires you to pay all expenses related to your horse, no matter how exotic or ill advised. Any training agreement should require the trainer to inform the owner prior to unusual situations that may require unusual expense to the owner.
Owners need to consider ahead of time that their trainer may need to make a life or death decision about their horse that may lead to significant expense, such as in the case of serious injury or colic that requires surgery. Owners please discuss this possibility with your trainer so that everyone can react without delay in an emergency.