Awhile back I wrote a blog post about how to tell if a horse sale ad is full of shit. As much as it was tongue-in-cheek it was also really to help people read between the lines of sale ads. I didn’t give much thought to the people selling the horses until recently. My friend was selling a nice horse and it got me thinking about the whole buying/selling scenario again. I photographed the horse for the sale ad and my friend received over 350 combined likes of her sale posts and 190 comments, so between the two of us we know a little something about posting an eye-catching ad.
1. Take good photographs. Yes, that’s great you can stand on your horse, just like the 70 other people I see in ads. But for all I know, seconds after you snapped the photo, the horse spooked at the wind and you ended up on your ass. What buyers really want to see is conformation, and how the horse looks at a walk, jog/trot lope/canter. Photos can help or hinder what kind of response an ad gets. For example, did you know you can make a horse look high in the backend just by an awkward camera angle? Make sure you’re giving your horse a fair shot at a great new owner. “But what do I care if he looks high in the back end, people will like him because he’s a paint/cheap/draft cross.” Sure, you might have an ace in the hole with some aspect of your horse, but presumably you care about this horse and want to see him or her go to a good home. A home that knows how to take care of horses, so why not catch the eye of a superbly qualified buyer? Wear something nice looking in the photos when riding the horse and don’t put someone on the horse who doesn’t want their face in the ad. A giant laughing emoji is very distracting. I know it sounds picky, but people want to see the horse, they don’t want their eye drifting over to that yellow smiley face.
2. Have video of the horse available at all gaits. I know, it’s a pain. But many people want to see a video of the horse moving before they spend their time and gas driving to come look at your special unicorn. No one wants to waste time checking out a horse with a jackhammer “lope” they can see from a mile off. They definitely don’t want to waste gas driving to see a horse that’s dead lame. What’s that? Someone isn’t silly enough to film a dead-lame horse and sell it as sound, you say? Hahahahaha…sorry. Yes. Actually, they are. I know this because I witnessed firsthand a lame horse trotted out for a buyer. Whether the owner didn’t understand what she was seeing or was trying to snow the buyer, I’ll never know. Take video so people know your horse is worth the drive.
3. If your horse isn’t flashy, know you’re going to have to put a little more effort into the sale ads than someone who’s selling a draft cross, horse with color, or a horse with a solid history of winning at shows. There are tons of horses for sale out there, and tons of ads for people to weed through. If you say your horse is solid on the trail, then take a video of the steed navigating trail obstacles without flicking an ear. If you say your horse would be a great kids horse, then throw a kid up there (for god’s sake, with a helmet, lest you find yourself on the wrong side of the angry villagers (read: Facebook horse experts)). There’s a reason used car lots detail the cars and even polish the tires. People are visual creatures. Don’t assume you can take some half-assed photos of your mud pony and people will see the diamond in the rough. For all a buyer knows there’s no diamond, just rough.
4. If the horse is registered, get the paperwork together and be ready to sign it over. Don’t tell people you don’t have the papers but you can get them because your second cousin’s half brother is married to the lady who had the horse three owners ago. Do the legwork yourself. You might not have cared if the horse was registered, but other people do. This isn’t a judgement on the quality of registerable horses vs. grade. I’ve seen some purebreds that could give the breed a bad name and some grade horses that were standup equine citizens. Regardless, registration matters. Give your horse a leg up on the competition.
5. I probably should have put this first, but, put the price of the horse in the sale ad. I know you might see some ads for fancy horses that say inquire for price, but those horses are of the if-you-have-to-ask-you-can’t-afford-it variety. If your horse is under $15K, put that price tag front and center. People are going to assume there’s a little play in the asking price, but they’re going to avoid a horse that’s $7000 if their budget is maxed out at $3K. If you’re trying to move a quality horse, the sweet spot seems to be about $3500. It’s high enough people won’t assume you’re trying to offload a junker with some intermittent lameness but it’s low enough that you’ll still get plenty of interest. And trust me, you want plenty of interest. There might be 20 people filling up your inbox with questions and promises that they’ll have cash in hand this weekend if you hold the horse. But for some reason, when the rubber hits the road and the check has to be written, all those buyers disappear and you’re left with about 3-5 really serious buyers. Which brings me to my last point…
6. If you take great photos and give a good description, you’re going to generate a lot of interest and will have to field several phone calls and messages. I’m an introvert. The above scenario sounds about as fun as shedding my horse while wearing lip gloss. But thems the rules. You never know which one of those 20 people is going to turn out to be the perfect buyer to give your horse a safe, well-fed, sheltered, forever home. If you care about your animals, you care where they end up. Respond to all of the private messages, texts, and phone calls. No matter if it’s just to let them know the horse has sold. The world is a small place, and the horse world is even smaller. Politeness goes a long way.
7. And finally, make sure you actually want to sell the horse. The equivalent to tire-kicker buyers are the reluctant sellers. Maybe you’re in financial trouble and don’t really want to sell the horse but need to. Or maybe the spouse has said it’s him or the horse. Pro tip: always pick the horse. Whatever the case may be, if you put an advertisement up, you have to be ready to make the sale. What happens if you don’t is you frustrate honest buyers, take your post down for a month or two, repost it, and then lose credibility. People watch the sale forums. A horse that goes up for sale, then down, then back up again has an issue. Whether that issue is with the horse or the owner, a buyer won’t know. But you’re losing out on possible great matches.
What are some of your horse sale ad pet peeves? What do you wish every person selling a horse would do? I know we can solve the world’s problems, one sale ad at a time.