OTTB United: Thoroughbred Buying and Selling Made Easy

“It sounds hyperbolic, but the app has taken all of the challenges and frustrations from trying to sell horses on social media and found productive ways to make it easier, better and more streamlined.”

When I sold my first Thoroughbred, we took an ad out in the local paper and the local equine print circular — The Steed Read. An ad looked something like  this:

Bold Sailor. Nice show horse. 20yo TB 16.2h, db G. Chester.

This was the early 1990s in Connecticut. A few years later when I was able to look for another, I became skilled in sleuthing the clues and codes embedded in the few letters and phrases.

Now, as an adult who actively buys and sells Thoroughbreds as part of my business (Kivu Sporthorses & Training, LLC), I have had to get good at Facebook — searching ISOs, posting my horses to groups, and coming up with all the fun ways to not break Facebook rules. Nothing is organized, who sees the ads is haphazard and, frankly, I kind of miss the simplicity of the Steed Read. 

Enter the app OTTB United.

Snaps (Mr. KW) getting some OTTB United love.

It sounds hyperbolic, but the application has taken all of the challenges and frustrations from trying to sell horses on social media and found productive ways to make it easier, better and more streamlined.

Beyond the fact that the ads are attractive and boxed, and therefore not confusing in their layout, they also have the essentials right there for viewers. There’s a photo, a name, birth year, height, the date of the posting, a short description and the ability to click for more informoation, which then includes the full description, the location, sire and damsire, external website and video links, and contact info/the easy ability to message the seller.

Potato’s (Moro Mischief) ad make it easy to see all the details.

This may all sound super simple and intuitive. Exactly! Try to find more than one online ad in a row that makes it that easy.

In the world where social media does not allow prices to show, indicating the sale of animals, users have come up with cute emoji work arounds such as carrots or hands displaying a number of fingers to help a viewer guess at what price range the horse might ride. Price in OTTB United isn’t a range. It isn’t “Low 5 figures,” indicating anything from 10-30k. It isn’t four carrots sitting in a row. Nope, there’s a clear price. “15,000” or “$5,500” is posted right next to that initial photo.

Besides the layout being clear and simple and ensuring that buyers have all the required information without having to go hunt for it, there are a few additional aspects that I really appreciate. The search function allows you to filter horses by the usual things like their age, height, location, gender, price, etc. But it also allows you to search by “banners.” These banners show up on the right hand side of the showcase image for the horse and tell buyers things like, “RRP Makeover Eligible,” “Amateur Friendly,” “PPE on File,” or “War Horse.” Oh, and for someone who hates repeating myself — they have a small disk image at the top of that page that allows you to ‘save’ your filter choices so you don’t have to do this process over and over and over every time you search — smart, folks, smart.

So now that as a potential buyer, you have your list of horses that meet your criteria (soapbox moment — not everyone needs a 16.2h upper-level-able four-year old, just saying…), all a user needs to do is click the “heart” symbol to add that listing to what becomes a virtual stable. Then click the “favorites tab” at the top and ta-da! all the horses you “liked” are there to compare and take a second or 45th look.

Additionally, there’s a fun feature where you can like your favorite re-sellers and keep an eye on their particular listings. Just like the horses, if you like them, they slip into your “favorites” and it is an easy watch the listing and get shopping game from there.

Once you find the horse you want and use the message tool to contact the owner and get details worked out, this app also provides a list of shippers — a notorious pain in the butt if you don’t do this often/have connections or if you live in off-the-beaten path/highway areas. The list of available shippers is extensive, but so far the app does not appear to have a search function for your route. However a few simple messages to those who look like they’re out your way and I’m sure that horse will be rolling towards your farm in no time.

Changing direction for a second, I want to add that as a seller, the app makes it easy. You can develop your brand by creating a reseller profile, and easily list horses and testimonials about your sales. To find your horses, instead of scrolling through endless editions of social media ads on your pages to update, you simple click “Manage My Listings” and each horse pops up. Mark them as sold and update the ad, or add a new video or further description as the horse comes along in their training.

The manage my listings tab makes keeping sale horses’ pages updated easy.

Well, now that I have written this, I’m off to add more of my horses to the app, and encourage folks who are shopping to pay the nominal amounts for access ($0 to peruse; $1.99 for full buyer access to all features; $4.99 for us sellers to be able to list horses). I might maintain some nostalgia for the Steed Read for its newspaper feel and hyper local listings, but my childhood self certainly would have done better to efficiently find the absolute right horse if I had this at my fingertips.