Over the last two years, the price of horses has increased, and IMO – it was a long-overdue correction. Everything in the world has gone up except the price of horses, and I'm sure many trainers are elated at the increased margin. Horse sellers in general usually want two things: Top dollar, and a good home. The latter may be negotiable to some.
The price of horses has increased as of late, however, the quality of their advertisement has not! Last fall I started my search for a new horse and was dumbfounded by the lack of quality ads I found. As a person who knew what I wanted, had cash in hand, and a healthy budget – I am sure I scrolled over dozens of horses that may have been just the unicorn I was looking for, but poor photos and lack of freely provided information had me scrolling on by.
So many ads had 25+ comments asking the original poster to “PM more info", and I don’t know if it gives the seller an energy rush that your horse might be as popular to others as they are to you, (which is fine if you’ve got time to answer 30 identical DM's…) but if you want to reduce tire kickers and the potential wrong home for your pony- put the details in the ad.
To remedy my frustrations, as I went through my horse shopping journey, I journaled my experience and came up with this resulting article on how the basics of how to sell a horse. (Spoiler alert: If you aren’t a fan of reading blogs, just scroll to the bottom of this article
to download my free template that you can use to fill in when you want to sell your four-legger).
Step 1: PHOTOS. If you read no further than the next paragraph, I'll call that a win.
Photo quality, relevance and abundance of, should match the asking price of your animal. For ease of reference, I have suggested what I would consider the bare minimum acceptable, broken down by price range. I started at a $5,000 sticker, and for horses below that, this ideally would apply, but I realize you might not want to spend the time and labour spiffing up a horse that cost you $3000 to raise but is worth $1500..
Over 5k – Your ad should have at least one well-posed confirmation photo, as
well as a short movement video (pasture, in hand, lunge line, ridden, etc.) that shows the perspective of their current level of training. The horse should be clean and groomed. If you are selling a horse in the winter, put a blanket on them for a few hours to lay their fur down so they look more sleek.
Over 10k – The ad should have confirmation photos of all angles (front, both sides, rear), plus photos under saddle, and in action. They should also include a video being ridden under saddle (if of age) representing their current level of training
Over 15k – The ad should include all of the specs from above, plus discipline-specific/competition photos and videos.
On a personal note, I want photos of their feet - lateral and solar, no matter the price tag of the horse. #nohoofnohorse
When you have all this collected, IF you are trying to sell a performance horse, the main/cover photo should be of one where they are in competition (not tied to the trailer or in the pasture).
Now, for the written advertising specifics. As I mentioned above, you can download this template at the bottom of this article.
1. Breed, gender, age. If you are posting on social where selling horses is banned, use the term “blue halter” for a male and “pink halter” for a female. You can use “blue halter with manhood” or the peanut emoji for a stallion. You can also write up your ad, take screenshots, and include your ad details as photos.
2. Discipline and level of it (pro, green broke, potential for, etc). You can reference their bloodlines, what their sires and dams have been known to succeed at, or other things they have taken a liking to.
3. Sound Start: At what age were they started, for how long, and by who if relevant. If they are an aged horse, how long have they been competing?
4. Career Highlights: Ie: Lightly hauled, left off a few years, seasoned then turned out, active in serious competition, etc.
5. Relevant medical history: Any major injuries, last vet check, teeth and farrier schedule, anything that interrupts their soundness (barefoot vs shoes), any breathing issues, allergies, nervousness or ulcers. Big plus if you offer up copies of their medical records. Because if you’re selling honestly – why not?
6. Maintenance: Most of them need it, so share what are you treating, how often, and how much it costs annually. Some people might balk at sharing the latter, but there are new people entering the horse market all of the time who have no idea what keeping a horse costs. I’d rather they know than be surprised by it and stop giving it or try to stretch it out.
7. If a competition horse, how do they travel? Do they do well alone, need a buddy, drink well, go off feed, what sort of feeding schedule do you keep them on?
8. Vices? Pulls back, paws, cribs, weaves, or any other idiosyncrasy our horses can come up with. High-calibre horses often have a vice, but their level of athleticism usually outweighs the quirk. But on the other hand, some people absolutely can't stand one vice or another – so let's just be upfront about Hank's ability to untie himself from anything.
9. Special Talents: What can they do besides their main event? Trail ride, drag calves at the branding, are savvy in a second discipline, level of kid-safety (or not), etc. Bonus for photos of horses completing said special talents.
10. Barn Manners: What is their overall temperature as a horse? Nervous nelly, cucumber calm, mischievous maverick, etc.
11. Nutrition & Horsekeeping: How and what do you feed them? Slow feed net on a round bale, pawing in the pasture all winter, hand-fed in the corral? Supplements? What do they thrive on or what are they used to? Do they run cold and need a blanket, you should care as much as the person buying the horse as to what sort of living conditions they are going to.
12. Don’t be vague. What does “needs a job” mean? What do they do when they are left with time off? What works or doesn’t work to return them to a level-head safely? And if you’re selling because the last person didn’t tell you and now not sure- that’s ok! Just say so.
13. For Sale Specifics: List Location. Are trials and PPE available? And price range. Again, keeping with the parameters of social selling, you can give a range such as “mid-four figures, high teens,” etc.
Now, this might seem like a lot and in all instances, depending on the horse – not all categories are answerable. So delete those and fill in the rest. But why should we write better for sale ads? Because we ask a lot of our horses, and changing homes is a huge deal for them whether they show it (or hide it and show it later). Mimicking as much as we can from the home where they were successful will help transition the animal into their new family.
When I have sold horses, I have interviewed the potential home as hard as they interviewed me about the horse. Now, if horses are simply tools for you- I get that you may have quit reading by now, which, to each their own. But for the plethora of people who treat their horses like family- let’s reduce the amount of time they change hands and ensure where they go is most appropriate for both the horse and their new rider.
Happy Horsing Around…
*If you loved this article and want to help more horses find the best homes, please consider sharing this post! Don’t forget you can download our sale ad template below!