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The Women & Horses Newsletter - June/July 2004

Tips for Selling Horses
By Mary D. Midkiff

Recently I have become very familiar with buying and selling horses for clients and from my own perspective. I think it is important to share what I have observed to be beneficial and point out the practices not so helpful in buying and selling your horse.

My last newsletter I discussed what to expect when buying a horse. I would like to add to that as well as turn the tables and discuss tips to consider when selling.

Making the decision to sell your horse can be a very hard. It is the first step in making a commitment to your horse that you will do everything you can to find him or her the best possible home in a reasonable amount of time, fairly priced and with reasonable expectations.

Now that you have decided that selling is the right thing to do for you and for your horse you need to decide how much you are willing to sell him/her for and how you are going to market him or her

You determine your asking price by reviewing what similar horses are selling for, evaluating his/her experience and training, age, specialty areas, achievements in competition and what you need to make you feel comfortable about the deal.

First make sure you have some decent photos to use in advertising. I have seen so many bad photos of horses and this just sends a potential buyer looking elsewhere. Present your horse the best way possible in a photo either standing square in hand with ears pricked forward and head alert or with you or a nicely dressed rider mounted on your horse in motion or just standing. But make the photo positive and in focus!

Secondly sit down and write out the attributes and vital information about your horse for the ad.

Buyers want to know:

1)Age, sex, height, weight, color, breed (even if there is a cross or mix, list them)

2) What the horse is trained to do: All around horse, dressage (list highest level of accomplishment), jumping (list height accomplishment), western disciplines (list talented areas), safe trail horse, equitation, saddleseat, endurance, driving...

3) Who is the horse suitable for: All riders, juniors, young riders, adult amateurs, professionals, small children, advanced riders only

4) List any special talents and stable manners: Loads quietly, safe for children, clips easily, bombproof, won championships, exceptionally fast times, high scores, no vices, sound...

5) List asking price. Unless the horse is extremely expensive I think it is only fair to list the asking price. You may add obo (or best offer) if you are flexible with your price and a motivated seller. If you have a very expensive horse to advertise you may want to list the price as private treaty only, serious inquiries only, or contact representative for price.

6) Icing. If you feel your horse has special qualities you want to make mention of please do! Such as beautiful, fancy, elegant mover, lovely head, sparkling coat, perfectly conditioned, etc.

7) Contact information. At the end of the ad make sure you have included a phone number and an email contact if possible. You may also include a website for further information, photos, etc. (I always look for websites because they usually have multiple listings of horses for sale and you can get a good idea of what is selling in the marketplace. They also include good links.)

Now that you have composed your ad or ads, determine where to place them.

1) Web. The web is the most popular outlet for advertising horses these days as you expand your exposure 1000 fold. A few good sites are dreamhorse.com, agdirect.com, warmbloodsforsale.com. For a narrower approach, you may also type in the name of a breed on google or any search engine and go to their national, state or local sites to advertise.

2) Local/Regional newspapers, magazines and newsletters. I have found these ad placements (with a photo) to be very helpful and inexpensive and necessary to reach as many horsepeople as possible.

3) Fliers. Create a flier with the horse's photo(s)and place at tack and feed stores, barn bulletin boards, coffee shops and keep a pile with you in your car to pass to anyone who might be interested.

4) Word of mouth. Still number one in trustworthy information. Tell everyone you know you are selling your horse. Send all of your friends an email with the flier attached and ask them to distribute them.

Now that you have your horse out on the market what happens next?

You will either get a call or an email with an inquiry about your horse. Answer their questions up front, be positive but honest and try to set up an appointment to come and see your horse.

Once you have the appointment set do the following:

1)Show up at least a half an hour to an hour before your scheduled appointment time. This will give you time to get organized. You should be nicely dressed, (remember you and your horse are reflections of each other, you are marketing yourself as a horseperson and caretaker or caregiver) ready to ride, have any pertinent papers with you such as veterinary notes, vaccination, worming and shoeing schedules and pedigree, and your cell phone at hand in case they call for directions or assistance.

2) Have your horse thoroughly cleaned and looking beautiful when they show up. Your horse should be shiny, mane and tail combed out, and feet oiled to look their best. Keep them naked to show off the horse's conformation to the potential buyer. Your tack and saddle pad should be clean and easily accessible.

3) When the buyer shows up greet them and introduce yourself and then offer to introduce them to your horse. I have had people say to me, "Well there he is," and stand outside the stall and watch me go in and greet the unfamiliar horse. I would much prefer if the seller would go into the stall and bring the horse around to meet me and introduce us properly. If the horse lives outside, bring him or her in to a protected area where the buyer can take a good look at them. You should have your horse ready for inspection when the buyer arrives.

4) If the buyer does not ask, then you may say "do you have any questions or is there anything you would like to know about my horse?" Answer any questions positively but honestly and if you are not sure tell them you will get back to them with the answer. For example, if it is a veterinary related question and you would rather the vet provide a response.

If the buyer still has nothing to say, you can take charge of the meeting and offer to tell them a few good points about your horse. Most people want to know why you are selling your horse and this should be answered honestly. Buyers understand all of the reasons to sell a horse, even if it is "we just don't get along and he deserves a more suitable partner."

5)Allow the buyer to watch you tack up your horse. Unless the buyer says differently, you should always ride your horse first and offer a few explanations as to what you are trying to achieve with your excercises.

The buyer should always sign a liability waiver and wear protective headgear before they mount your horse. The initial ride should take place in an enclosed area until you and the buyer feel comfortable about taking the horse out into the open.

Saddles can be a real problem in selling horses because the horse's saddle may not fit the potential buyer for the test ride. If possible, have a few different sizes of saddles available that will work for the horse and rider. This will circumvent many problems.

6)If it makes you feel comfortable or if you are concerned there may be a safety issue, give the buyer a few riding tips on how to control or manage your horse. Explain that it is purely for safety's sake. Watch the ride and make suggestions if they seem appropriate.

7)If the ride time is getting too long and you are concerned about your horse's fitness level, the heat, the cold, tell the buyer you believe that is enough riding time. They should honor your recommendation.

8)After the ride, offer to answer any questions and begin the process of cooling your horse out.

If they like your horse, the process will evolve to a point where you discuss money. If the buyer asks you if your price is firm you may say yes and explain why the price you set is fair. Or you may say there is some negotiating room if you are willing to be flexible within a couple of hundred or thousand dollars.

The buyer must make an offer for you to consider for the sales process to begin. You may accept the offer and begin discussing the pre-purchase exam or you may say you would like to think about it and get back to them tomorrow with an answer. The ball is in your court once the first offer has been made. You may go back and forth several times until a final price is agreed upon and that final price is payable only if the horse passes the pre-purchase veterinary exam.

As I mentioned before, I highly recommend a pre-purchase exam.

The buyer typically pays for the pre-purchase, however, I know of one horse person that says he will pay if the horse is sound and if the horse is found to have a problem, the seller must pay and will keep all of the X-rays and veterinary reports.

If the pre-purchase exam is negative, your horse passes, you may then ask for payment. You may want all of the money at that time or you may want to offer the buyer terms. You should not release the horse to them or the shipper until you have the cash or their check has cleared the bank. You should create a bill of sale and/or a letter of agreement transfering ownership of the horse and all of his/her papers to the new owner. I like to include the horse's bridle and blankets with the deal as a bonus.

The buyer should make all of the shipping arrangements and be responsible for all shipping charges. Once the horse gets in the trailer it is their responsibility.

Little extras that you can offer are to go out on the trails with them on your horse and you riding a borrowed horse; set up another appointment and give them a free riding lesson on your horse; provide references for them to contact who can provide further support of your horse's worthiness; offer to take them to lunch or have coffee to discuss horses.

Also, some additional notes for you buyers...Make sure you know the fitness level of the horse you are buying. I have had several students that bought a super quiet horse who had been on pasture only to find that with a little work and grain the horse was way too much for them to handle. Know what you are getting at the time. Horses can be very different when they are fit and feeling high.

Notice when you meet the horse if they are depressed or happy. If they stand at the back of the stall when you arrive and don't even look at you (or even worse turn their back to you) or the owner when you enter the stall, it's usually a sign that the horse is unhappy, in pain or wants little to do with humans. I have met several of these horses and have been able to recover them but it takes a great deal of time, money and commitment to bring them around to a happy, pain-free state of living.

Horses that are happy will be munching hay, or napping and turn to look at you, or even step forward to greet you, put their head in your lap, ears forward, and have an open feeling about them. If they were a person you would see their hand extended out to you waiting to shake yours.

Happy Riding!! Sincerely, Mary

Equestrian Resources PO Box 20187 Boulder, CO 80308 USA


female equestrian fitness training and riding tips

Mary Midkiff, 1119 Merrick Drive #362a, Lexington KY 40502
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