How to Sell A Horse with Richard Winters

A few years ago I wrote an article on “How To Buy A Horse”. I’ve also given numerous lectures at horse expos around the country on the same topic. However, I’ve never addressed the subject of how to sell a horse. I’m not saying that I’m an expert. Our business has never been one where we buy and sell a tremendous amount of horses. However, I have sold horses for a few hundred dollars and I have sold a horse for over $100,000. We have made money on some and lost money on others. Below are a few things to think about.

Know Your Target Audience

I learned this lesson a few decades ago with a young Thoroughbred mare that I started and had going over some low jumps. I was hoping to sell her and took her to a local horse auction in my area. However, I soon learned the auction had been advertised and promoted for Western and recreational horses. There were very few people interested in a young green English jumping prospect. I think she sold for $1,500. If I recall, I bought her for $2,000. 

Auctions can be a good place to sell a horse. There are generally numerous buyers looking and ready to purchase a horse. An auction can also be very convenient and streamline. You don’t have to take numerous phone calls or have people coming out to “try” your horse time and again. You show up at the sale with your horse in the trailer. Hopefully, you go home with an empty trailer. Paying a consignment fee and commission will be factors that you must consider if you decide to sell your horse at an auction That is how the auction company makes their money. They’ve covered the promotion expenses and have brought the buyers together. The consignment fee is their compensation.

Trainer Commissions

Even when selling horses privately, trainer and or broker commissions are commonplace. If Sally wants to look at my western performance horse, she might have a trainer come with her to ride the horse. If they decide to purchase the horse, I will pay the trainer 10% of the sale price. If I have a horse in training for a client and I help them sell the horse to Sally and her trainer, then the horses’ owner would pay the other trainer and myself 5% each of the sales price. The fact of the matter is this: If trainers begin to know that you do not pay a commission, they quit bringing their buyers to try out your horse! Of course, every situation is different and some equine disciplines may handle it differently. However, this is generally true for Reiners, Cutters and Cow Horses.

Take Advantage Of Technology

With a little bit of “tech” savvy, you can market your horse in a professional way to a lot of people fairly easily. Digital pictures and online video can be uploaded to the Internet quickly and sent to any inquiring buyer, anywhere. There are also sites that you can post this information for a small fee where potential buyers would be looking. You can get elaborate and have professional pictures and video taken. Yet, in all reality, you can get a lot of information to people with the capability of your smart phone.

Take Pride In Your Horse

If I wanted to sell my car, I would wash it before the buyer came to see it, do the same with your horse. Bath your horse. Give your horse a haircut. Make sure the feet are trimmed or shod. Weather depending, maybe have your horse blanketed. Remember, you can only make one first impression. Show that buyer that you have a horse that has been well cared for. Ride your horse. Keeping your horse on a regular riding/training routine will help them show better and therefore sell better. Make sure your horse is in shape. We all look better when we are in shape!

Disclose, Disclose, Disclose

That’s the advice I once heard when it’s time to sell a piece of real estate. “Buyer Beware” is one thing. However, your lack of disclosing serious problems could come back to bite you. Especially if you’re planning on selling horses again someday. It might be a behavioral issue such as being cinchy or broncy, possibly some type of stable vise or physical issue. Perspective buyers need to know these things. It’s not your obligation to run down your horse and put them in a negative light. However, being forthright and disclosing pertinent information is the best policy.

I’m thinking of all these things because I have two young mares that I’m getting ready to sell at a western performance horse auction this month. I’m keeping them in stalls with blankets on. I’m trying to ride them every day. I have them on a shoeing schedule so that they will be freshly shod one week before the sale. I took some good quality pictures of the horses a couple weeks ago and sent them to the sale company so they could post them on their Facebook page. I have also shot a short video of the horses and posted it on YouTube. That way people can have an idea of the horses training and performance before they ever get to the sale.

Being aware of these things can hopefully prepare you to market your horse in a positive and effective way.

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