Eventing Nation: The do’s and don’t of selling your horse

Looking to sell a horse? Read these smart tips from Kate Samuels first.

Top: The cool new sales map on Sport Horse Nation.

From Kate:

Spring is a big time for equestrians to think about buying a new horse for the upcoming competition season, and as a result a large amount of horses that were improving over the winter come out fresh and strong in the spring, listed for sale on many various websites and forums. In this modern day, most horses are marketed through the Internet, and buyers are accustomed to rifling through hundreds of possible equines, searching for “the one.”

As a seller, this is great because you get access to a massive audience at an affordable rate (hello Sport Horse Nation) and your horse is seen by more people than ever before. On the downside though, you now have to compete with every other person who is selling a horse that shares any similarities with yours, and you have to stand out somehow. Just like with anything else, a first impression can be really important, and you want to be sure that it’s a positive influence. So, straight from the collective experience of the chinchillas and myself, I give you the Do’s and Don’ts of selling your horse on the Internet.

DO get somebody to spell check your classified advertisement before you post it in public. There’s really nothing worse than reading something that seems phonetically spelled out by a 5-year-old boy.

DO post pictures … but please make them relevant! If you are marketing a horse as an eventer, include a photo of the horse jumping, as that’s pretty important in our sport. I try to think of the top three photos: flat, jumping and conformation shot. Three photos of your horse trotting is not helpful. One photo of him standing in the field with his butt facing you is really not helpful.

DO take the time to get good photos. Pay a friend with lunch or dinner, and find somebody with a decent eye to help you. It’s the little things.

DON’T use photos that show your horse or the rider in some unsafe situation in order to prove how “safe” or “quiet” he is. Let’s leave that to the Craigslisters, OK? While I’m at it, let’s just categorically say that propping a toddler up on his back really isn’t helping your case either.

DO be honest in your description. Imagine what kind of information you would want to know if you were the buyer. What is the horse’s personality like on the ground? What is his temperament under saddle? What type of rider would suit him best? Does he have any known medical issues? Writing white lies about any of these topics won’t help you in the long run. You will just end up wasting your time, the buyer’s time and potentially hurting your own reputation. Just don’t bother.

DO assume that your horse’s USEA event record will be checked! If you’re selling a show hunter or jumper or dressage horse, many of us clever ones have figured out how to stalk find your horse’s record even if you’re attempting to sell it into a new job!

DON’T take conformation photos of your horse grazing.

DO know that it’s confOrmation, not confirmation!

DO make time to create a comprehensive video or two of the horse both on the flat and over fences. Remember, a lot of people are willing to travel great distances to find “the one”, but they usually won’t make that leap without a video or two. Try to show the different skills of the horse in question, i.e. movements on the flat or different types of jumps. A video of your horse trotting in a 20-meter circle for five minutes and 30 seconds of a cross rail at the end is not what I’m talking about.

DON’T put a really annoying pop song over your sales video. Just please.

DON’T make a video that is of such poor quality or shaky videography that we actually can’t tell what’s going on. Also, zoom is wonderful. If I have to squint to see the speck that is your horse jumping a log two fields away, that’s not working for me.

DO list a price, even if it’s a price range. That way, you can save a lot of time on both ends for inquiries of that nature. When it comes down to it, the final question for the buyer is: “Can I afford this? Is this a reasonable amount of money to spend on this horse?” Be upfront about what you think the horse is worth.

DON’T be offended when people offer you less than you are asking. Haggling is part of the process, and if you don’t like it, that’s just too bad.

DO be prompt and polite to all inquiries. Especially in the digital age, you are bound to receive many emails, texts and phone calls from many different sources with many varied questions. Leaving a message unanswered for days shows that you are disorganized and not motivated to sell.

DON’T take a video of your young horse/prospect being chased around a ring with a plastic bag tied to a whip, four people and 12 dogs, and then suggest that your terrified horse is a fantastic mover. Her tail is over her back, she will need her neck adjusted after this exercise and I will recall that my obese Shetland Pony looked like a Prix St. George prospect under similar circumstances! A video of your horse at liberty can be very useful, but a realistic view of how they move or jump when their brain is still in their head is more useful.

DON’T oversell or undersell your horse. Be realistic and honest about his prospects for the future, his current talents and what kind of life he would thrive in. If he’s a world-beater, say so! It’s okay if he’s not destined to jump around the upper levels, but trying to fool somebody into thinking he will is not okay.

DO realize that the goal is to find the best match for everybody. You want to feel satisfied with the deal — that you got the money you needed and that you placed the horse in a home that will serve him well. You also want a happy buyer at the end of the day because that’s a buyer who will think of you fondly, recommend you in the future and ultimately treat that horse right because he is, in fact, “the one.”


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