Guest post by April Lee from Helpful Horse Hints.
Deciding to sell a horse is not usually an easy task. We spend so much time with our horses that it is only natural when we grow attached.
Sometimes, though, we know we aren’t the perfect home for a horse.
Whether it is our finances that dictate a horse needs to be sold or just an incompatibility for whatever reason, the result is placing the horse for sale so that it can find a new owner.
When you are finally ready to take the step of listing your horse for sale, these five tips will help you maximize your horse sale ad.
Determine A Realistic Price Point
Be objective when looking at other ads. Look at the pros and cons each horse has. Also, take note of how long they have been for sale. If a horse is priced at $5,000 and is still for sale three or four months later, it probably isn’t a $5,000 horse.
Look at horses in your direct area and surrounding areas to see what horses with similar pedigree and training sell for. When selling a horse you have owned, loved, and trained for any period of time, it is natural to feel like the horse’s value is more than what the market will actually pay for it.
Depending on how long you have had your horse, he may not be worth what you paid for him or, he may be worth much more. The goal is to find a few horses that are as similar as possible to your own and use their asking prices as a guideline for pricing.
Keep in mind that simple marketing steps outlined below could easily allow you to ask more for your horse if you are willing to make an effort to entice buyers to look your way.
Take Good Photos
Once you have decided to sell your horse and set a reasonable price, your photos are arguably the most important thing that will help to attract buyers. In order to maximize your horse sale ad, it is imperative to get good photographs of your horse.
While professional photos are nice, they aren’t absolutely necessary for this step. It seems everybody these days has at least a smartphone with a halfway decent camera. The great thing about digital storage is you can take 200 photos and trash all but the five best.
If you have to choose only one photo of your horse to place in the horse sale ad, in most cases, you are going to want to select a conformation shot taken from the horse’s side. Typically this photo is taken in a halter only.
Before you start your photoshoot, here are some things to remember:
· Start with a clean horse. It really makes a difference.
· Use the best quality camera you can get your hands on.
· Take the time to make sure the horse’s legs are positioned properly, and he is not stretched out or camped together in an awkward pose.
· Have at least one friend help you hold the horse and get his ears forward.
· If your camera has a rapid-fire or sports mode, use that for each photo you take. It will help get the right shot at the right time.
Aside from the conformation shot, feel free to get any other pictures you think best show off your horse’s conformation and performance ability.
Here are some ideas of other pictures you may want to have:
· Your horse at a competition, performing.
· Turnout pictures.
· Closeups of legs (people will ask for them)
· Your horse being ridden (if he is advertised as broke to ride).
Write a Good Ad but Be Honest
When writing the sale ad for your horse, be honest about all of his good qualities but also be upfront about any major negatives. It does you no good to try and hide things in an ad only to have to disclose them in the inquiry process, or worse before you sell the horse.
If your horse is a great trail horse, be sure to talk up his experience. Can he go out on the trail alone and in groups? Let the buyer know. Likewise, if he is rock-solid in the show ring and warm-up arena, those are major plusses too.
Anything that your horse does well that is likely to make his new owner’s life at the barn easy, and hassle-free is something you should talk up in the sale ad. It is OK to make your horse sound like the dreamboat every horse owner has been looking for. On that same note, though, be sure to mention any flaws your horse may have.
Disclosing issues in your ad will allow buyers to decide whether or not to call you based on the information you present.
Some things I believe should always be disclosed in a horse sale ad include:
· Vices such as cribbing, weaving, or stall walking.
· Horses that require any extras to stay sound whether that is supplements, special shoes, or injections.
· Horses that have had a colic episode that resulted in hospitalization or surgery.
The reality is, the more you disclose, the fewer people you have wasting your time that aren’t going to be the right fit for your horse. At the end of the day, you are going to want to see your horse in a home where he is happy, and the new owner is happy, and your ad is the first step toward that goal.
Video Can Help Set Your Horse Apart
I remember fifteen years ago when I was still new to selling horses, one of the things that set us apart from our competition was video. It wasn’t as common back then as it is today, but there are still some steps you can take with video to set yourself apart from others.
Remember all of those awesome things your horse does really well that you wrote about in your ad? Video is the perfect place to showcase them. Walk your prospective buyer through a day with your horse.
Does your horse greet you with a nicker every time you walk up to his stall? Get it on video! Is he amazing in the cross ties and easy to saddle and bridle? Show those skills off! Maybe he has excellent verbal commands on the lunge line or stands perfectly still for mounting. Everything you take for granted on a day to day basis is a potential plus for a buyer.
The great thing about video is that you can make more than one. Once you have your footage, use any of the free video editors available on the web to mix it all together. Get a friend to help you if you aren’t sure how.
Negotiate Like A Boss
Negotiation during the horse sale process is one of the steps I, personally, like the least. You can’t blame the buyer for wanting an awesome deal but, you don’t need to take a loss to make them happy either.
My biggest recommendation is to never negotiate via email, Facebook, PM, etc. If the potential buyer is not serious enough to come out and see the horse, in person, then there is no reason to negotiate with them.
Negotiation is part of sales, even if you put FIRM on the ad, expect folks to want to negotiate. Most will flat out ask, “How low will you go?”. My answer to any of those questions when I sell horses is that I consider all-cash offers made in-person.
When you are serious enough to come out and actually see my horse, I will seriously consider your on the spot cash offer. Most people won’t contact you again, but those that are serious will come out.
It is easiest on your side to have a hard and fast number you won’t go under for a sale price. You should know that number before you show your horse.
This number represents the lowest amount of cash that a person could take your horse home for if they showed up with a horse trailer, and you thought they would be a good fit.
Things you should factor into this decision include holding costs for your horse. These are all the fees like farrier care, hay, grain, board, and training that continue to cost you money as long as you own the horse. You also need to think about how ready you are to move on.
If you are still enjoying your horse and riding him regularly, it makes sense to hold out for the best possible offer. If he’s just a hay burner and not really being used, you may want to be more negotiable. In the end, you should never feel pressured by a buyer to go lower than what you are comfortable with.
At the end of the day, remember that selling a horse is about selling the dream of horse ownership.
Everything you do to promote your horse should be aimed at making the person on the other side of the ad fall in love with the idea of owning him. Coming out to meet him or do a test ride should only seal the deal.
If you set up the sale process correctly and are honest, you shouldn’t have to show your horse very many times before he sells.
April Lee has been active in the horse world and a horse owner since 1994. She has a B.S. in Agriculture from Cal Poly Pomona, and has personally worked with hundreds of horses, founded and run a successful 501(c)3 and even run a program promoting adoption of wild burros in cooperation with the US Government. She currently lives and boards her horse in Los Angeles, CA. You can find more of April Lee’s tips at Helpful Horse Hints.