PSA From Horse Nation: Posting a Sales Ad

Perusing the local horse listings is enough to drive any rational person insane. So here’s a PSA (public service announcement) with six things people need to do when they post a horse for sale. Begin rant:

So, when I get bored, I like to engage in some nefarious equine activities. This is something we don’t always talk about openly, but it’s something we all do (whether or not we want to admit it). Of course I am talking about scrolling through the local equine sales sites on social media. I know, I know. Technically, we can’t sell horses on Facebook any longer, but let’s get real. There are lots of halters being posted, all of which come complete with their own horse.

For the most part, I am perusing these postings for entertainment, a general curiosity regarding what’s available, and a way to get a handle on the market. After all, I usually know someone looking to buy or sell (don’t we all?), so I like to know what the equine market is. Of course, I’m also looking just in case something comes along that I just can’t pass up.

If there’s anything that looking through sales ads on local sites has shown me, it’s that people do not know how to post an equine sales ad.

Before I delve into my diatribe, let me be perfectly clear. I know selling horses is not for the faint of heart. I know that people message you constantly asking for information that clearly is posted in your ad. I know buyers can be time wasters and incredibly frustrating. That’s a given.

That said, horse sellers can be … unique in their own right. This is especially true when it comes to advertising non-performance horses. So, it is with the best of intentions (and perhaps a little exasperation) that I offer this list of — ahem — suggestions for posting a sale ad.

1. Basic Information. None of this “UnIcOrn fOr sAle. AnyoNe cAn riDe. PM foR pRiCe & iNfo” crap. Look, we all know that potential buyers are notorious for not reading sales ads, so I totally get the frustration that comes with writing a lovely sales ad only have some message you asking questions that 100% were answered in the ad. That’s when I like to reply, “See listing.” However, as a buyer, I also expect certain information in the listing. Like, you know, the horse’s height, age, sex, breed, training level. This doesn’t have to be fancy. Literally a bulleted list will work:

  • Spirit
  • 13-year-old gelding
  • 14.2hh
  • APHA
  • Located in Middleofnowhere, PA
  • Experienced on trails, but limited showing experience. Solid W/T/C. Best suited for an advanced beginner and up.

See? That’s not hard. Would I like a bit more information? Sure. But does this tell me enough to let me know if I should even be interested? Yes.

2. Pictures. Yes, we need pictures. And also, no, not Bessie grazing in the damned field. Clean your horse up. Stand it square. Have its feet done. And quit having it stand with a bunch of junk in the background. A well kept tractor? Sure. All of your family’s garbage from the last 10 years and a falling down fence? No. That may seem snobbish, but I need to be honest. If I’m looking to buy a horse and it looks like it’s being kept in a junkyard, I either won’t bother looking at that horse because I’m concerned about the care it is receiving OR I will lowball you because I am concerned about the care it is receiving. Pictures make or break a sale.

I purchased this horse (see all my swooning posts about Mac). Note that she is standing square. She is clean. I can see all four legs. I can see her conformation. All this took was a little brushing and a good location. Photo courtesy of DeAnn Long Sloan.

3. Videos. Just like pictures, we need videos. And not grainy videos from 100 yards away. Videos should show movement. Walk, trot, canter in both directions. If you are advertising the horse as finished or at least started in a specific discipline (like, say, barrel racing or jumping), a video of the horse performing that discipline actually is helpful. And if you post a poor quality video that only lasts for seven seconds, don’t get offended when people ask for more video (I think it was actually one of these posts that triggered this rant). Yes, I get that having a potential buyer asking for videos of Flicka doing everything from side passing to standing on her head is unrealistic, but so is expecting a buyer to trust what you say about a horse based on a photo of your horse from a weird angle wearing a saddle and a video that could be literally any chestnut horse being jerked around a barrel.

And speaking of videos, while we want to see some basic things, we also don’t have all day. Videos should be short, sweet, and to the point. Again, W/T/C in both directions, a clip or two of the horse performing its discipline (if applicable), and, like, that’s it. Not 15 minutes of Dakota walking through a creek or meandering about the field.

4. Price. Just tell us how much the horse costs. I know Facebook is flagging posts of horses with prices, but dear lord, find a way to at least hint at it. Even if it’s a photo of some stalker-type magazine cut out numbers, let us know what you expect to get for Spirit. If you don’t list a price, I assume I can’t afford it.

5. Pricing. Speaking of price, post it (yes, I said this, but it bears repeating). But also, be realistic about what Smoky is worth. If you’re advertising a grade project pony that still needs to learn to pick up its feet and needs 100 pounds, price it accordingly. We all know the horse market has skyrocketed lately, but let’s get real. The horse that doesn’t know leg pressure, can’t give to the bit, has no papers, needs groceries and has a slight bucking problem when the mood strikes (like, you know, when it’s Tuesday) is not worth $6000. I don’t care if it is gray.

6. And finally, for the love of all things holy, please 👏 stop 👏 posting 👏 pictures👏  of 👏 you 👏  standing 👏 on 👏  your 👏 horse. No one cares that that one time Whiskey fell asleep you stood on his saddle and didn’t die. This tells me literally nothing about the horse’s ability to tote me around the trail, ride in the arena, or do whatever I’m asking it to do. Just… stop.

Photo by Maria Wachter

End rant.

What grinds your gears when it comes to posting a sales ad? Let us know in the Facebook comments!