selling your horse

With a saturated market, selling your horse is becoming more and more challenging. Learn how to give your horse a leg up to his future.

Our industry is facing challenging times, and has been for some years now. With minimal relief in sight, many people are selling their horses. The market is saturated, and we frequently hear people asking why their particular horses aren’t selling. Sales tactics that used to work for people just aren’t cutting it anymore. If you want to give your horse the opportunity to find a great next chapter in his life, you need to show him off to the best of your ability.

Smile for the Camera

In this digital age, there is really no excuse for not having photos of your horse. Digital cameras are inexpensive, or you can easily get a friend to help you out. Plenty of horse sales sites will allow you to post at least one photo for free, or you can use any number of free photo hosting websites. Many people will not even look at a horse’s ad if there are no photos. Photos should include, at minimum, a nice conformation shot from each side, and maybe a nice headshot. If the horse is being ridden, a couple of images of him at work are a nice complement.

Remember, these photos are a potential buyer’s first impression of your horse. Think of it a bit like a job interview. Take your horse out of the fi eld, bathe him, tidy him up, and put on a clean, well-fitting halter. If you are going to be in the photo, wear appropriate attire (no flip-flops or bathing suits!). Stand your horse up on level ground with a decent background – if nothing else, someplace where there is minimal clutter/distractions.

That’s a Wrap

Video can be a very nice thing to offer potential buyers, particularly if they may be coming from a distance to see the horse. Again, be aware that how you present your horse and the clips you choose can greatly affect peoples’ perception. You can take a video of the horse and cut it down to a two-minute segment that makes the horse look fabulous. But know that viewers are just as aware of what you don’t show as what you do. If you only show the left lead canter, they will assume there is a problem with the right. Cut out every transition, and they’ll wonder if the horse is a bit naughty off the leg.

Creating an Ad

Many people find creating an ad for their horses challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. Horse ads don’t need to be lengthy – in fact you’ll often fi nd that the less information people have to sort through, the better.

Be careful about creating an ad that is overly emotional – it is great for people to know your horse is well-loved, but no one wants to feel they are ripping apart your beloved partnership if they put in an offer.

Ads Should Include:

✓ Breed and ancestry
✓ Age
✓ Height
✓ Sex
✓ Color
✓ Level of training, show experience, or area in which the horse shows talent
✓ A few details on temperament and personality – e.g. “Requires an experienced, patient rider”
✓ Health and/or soundness information
✓ Price is a bit of a controversy; some people include the price in the ad, others don’t. But not including a price can be offputting for some purchasers – there’s a saying that if you have to ask, you can’t afford it, which in fact isn’t always the case.

The “Interview” Process”

Now it’s time for the actual “job interview”. Check with the buyer ahead of time to see what she would like to watch the horse doing. Some people like to see everything, from the horse being caught up in the fi eld onwards, whereas others prefer arriving to a horse tacked up and ready. Regardless, the horse should be clean and tidy, the equipment should be clean and well-fitting, and you should ensure there is an appropriate place to “show off” the horse.

If the horse is rideable, make sure he has been in work prior to the buyer’s visit. I don’t know how many times I have gone to see horses and been told, “He hasn’t been worked in about a month, but we’ll just put him on the lunge for a bit and you’ll be fi ne.” These are also typically horses the owners don’t want to ride first. This tactic can either work to your favor or not – if the horse is good the buyer may be impressed, but if not she may feel she wasted a visit. Along these lines, it will also work in your favor to have someone who can get on the horse in front of the buyer to show him off to the best of his ability. Very few people can get on a horse for the first time and have him go as well as he possibly can, so it is nice for buyers to witness his talents firsthand with a rider known to the horse.

By presenting your horse in the best light possible, you will attract the type of buyer and home you want for him, and hopefully make a sale. Your horse’s future is in your hands to can go a long way!