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Horses & Social Media: Horse Selling 101

Social media makes it easier than ever to list horses for sale — but there are plenty of pitfalls to avoid in order to create an eye-catching ad that will help your horse find his next owner. Emily Barker details some good practices.

Lucky for us, it’s 2018 and there are a lot of new ways of selling horses thanks to technology. There are many different groups and pages on social media that offer an easy and relatively quick way to buy and sell horses. But it’s not as easy as just snapping a smartphone photo and jotting down an ad — here are a few tips and tricks to make sure your ad gets the biggest impact.

Make A Lasting First Impression

Don’t expect to a sell a high-dollar horse with awkward iPhone pictures and videos. Your super fancy upper-level dressage prospect is no better than a Craigslist goat if your photo is blurry, has bad lighting, or shows the horse in an unflattering and disproportionate stance. Whether your selling the horse for $500 or $75,000, take some time to bathe, possibly braid, and present a nice coat.

When you’re taking photos yourself, here are some simple tips to remember: fill the horse in the frame, hold the camera (or phone) horizontally and make sure it’s focused. You want the most level ground you can find; you don’t want that two-year-old to look more baby-butt-high than he is! Your horse’s feet should be in line with each other, so the haunches or shoulders aren’t at an angle. It’s best to shoot outside with the sun behind you to illuminate and capture the horse in the best light.

Always remember: pretty sells. Your horse doesn’t have to be a 10/10, but you should present them in their best light. Literally!

Photo provided by Steve Wolfe Performance Horses

Watch and Learn

If your horse is broke to ride, you need a video! The biggest tip we can give here is short, sweet and to the point. Your video should show what you’re advertising. If you’re selling a fourth-level dressage horse, buyers expect to see the horse performing fourth-level movements in the video. If you are selling a lesson horse, the video should show the horse with a variety of different kids riding it.

The same tips for photos go for videos: if the video is dark, people can’t see it. Lighting is important! Your horse should look presentable, not like you just pulled it out of a muddy pasture.

A good video should be two to four minutes in length (no one needs to see the horse trot six laps — we get it!) A video more than four minutes long will often lose the viewer’s attention. If your horse shows well, include snippets of a class!

Tell Them What They Need To Know

A great photo is the first thing that will catch a potential buyer’s attention and the video takes the interest a step further. It’s essential to follow that imagery with an honest written assessment of the horse’s breeding, training, show record, potential, and personality. Make sure your details include the “need to knows” for the buyer: the horse’s year of birth, height, location, and when applicable, registration information.

Make sure that you disclose your contact information in the horse’s description. This is imperative. Just because you’re posting the sale ad on Facebook doesn’t just automatically mean that an interested buyer will Facebook message you. Believe it or not, there are still people who like to call and actually talk to you! Do yourself a favor and include the location and a phone number. Nothing is more annoying than having a string of comments asking where the horse is located!

Examples of some great ads, screenshot with permission

Price or No Price?

Facebook has started flagging posts and banning accounts from the marketplace for posting horses for sale. If you’re posting on Facebook, there’s a couple things you should do.

First, post as a “discussion,” not as an item for sale. This prevents the horse from being posted in Facebook’s Marketplace. When you write it this way, you can usually include the price of the horse without it getting flagged. If you’re flagged too many times, the ban from the Marketplace can be permanent. As a horse trainer or an amateur owner, this can be detrimental to the buying/selling process! You won’t be able to view any posts in buy/sell groups.

Also consider writing the price range (“low to mid five figures,” for example) instead of the actual price. This will deter some people from inquiring if it’s out of their price range and avoid the constant “price?” comments that will flood the post. Be wary of listing prices online, however, if your horse doesn’t sell right away but is in a training program. You don’t want to list the horse too low early on and may need to put a disclaimer that price will raise with training.

Target Your Market

When listing your horse on marketing or social sites, try and consider who’s on that specific site and what kind of horse the general followers might be searching for. For example, you shouldn’t post your $80,000 jumper on a “Ranch Horse Sales and Tack” sales page on Facebook. Look for pages on social media that target individuals looking to buy a high quality and top dollar horse. Choose the site that’s appropriate for your horse, its discipline, and price point.

There are groups/pages for almost ANYTHING. If you’re advertising that jumper for sale, look for a page that has listings on jumpers for sale. Better yet, if your jumper is a warmblood and there’s a page for warmbloods for sale, post it there too! The more exposure the better!

You should also post your sales horse on sites outside of social media. Dreamhorse is a well-known classifieds site with horses for sale, lease, trade, breeding stallions, and more. There are discipline specific sites as well, such as ReinersWorld for reiners, Warmblood-Sales for warmbloods, ProEquest for hunter/jumpers and more. Similar to social media pages, there’s a website for almost every breed and discipline.

Photo provided by Summervale Premier Dressage

For Sale By Owner

When putting a horse up for sale by owner, you are solely responsible for all the marketing, showing, and negotiation with buyers. On the plus side, this gives you the option to take control of the transaction and you will also avoid paying a trainer’s commission or a broker’s fee. If you have a trainer that is helping you sell the horse, it is a good idea to show them the videos and the ad’s wording before you post. Using social media to advertise widens your possible buyer pool exponentially! So if your trainer is not utilizing this tool, be sure you are.

On the other hand, marketing and showing a horse to potential buyers can be VERY time consuming. It’s essential to do your homework and take notes on how to properly advertise your horse on social media. Take the time and follow these guidelines and you’ll be set to go!

Emily Barker is an intern at Entrigue Consulting, a full-service equestrian marketing and brand agency. Emily is currently studying Equestrian Science and Business at William Woods University and will obtain her MBA in 2020. Emily is also an avid rider, and has been riding since she was 7. She rides in multiple different disciplines in the Arabian breed, from Saddle Seat and Driving to Dressage. If you have any questions regarding Entrigue’s services, visit their website at www.entrigueconsulting.com.

Photo courtesy of Emily Barker

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