Whew, intended to post this after getting home from our "Saturday Night Date Night", but it got too late and I was exhausted. :) Here you go...
One of the most significant decisions a horse owner can ever make is the one to sell a horse. Sometimes, although it’s a big step, it can be fairly easy, such as when a child has outgrown a small horse or pony, if there’s some kind of personality clash and you don’t get along with the horse anyhow, or if the horse just isn’t capable of the type or level of event you want for him and you wish to “upgrade”.
Even though actually making the decision to sell is quite difficult, the rigors of parading your horse around for others to scrutinize can be a trying experience, often made worse when you have people you thought were interested call and make an appointment to see your horse, but never come by, or worse -- the ones who come to ride him, say they love him and think he’s “the right one”, but say they want to look a little while longer than never, ever come back to buy him. That, sometimes, can be heartbreaking.
There are some simple steps you can take to make your horse a whole lot more attractive to potential buyers without deceiving them. First, even though it’s sometimes tough to do when you’re at a public boarding stable, always insist on an appointment time or time frame around which to work. If you know approximately when to expect the customer, it’s easier to make sure your horse is ready to meet his possible new owners. Of course, if you put up an advertisement on the barn bulletin board or post a “for sale” sign on his stall, everybody is going to know your horse is for sale, so you can count on uninvited traffic looking at him at any given time. Usually the word gets out pretty quick that a horse in the barn is for sale, too, and other boarders may be pointing him out to those who wander in looking for a horse to buy.
Assuming that you have someone who has called on your ad and set up an appointment, always plan on them arriving at least fifteen minutes early. That way, if they do get there early you won’t be running around trying to finish grooming him as they’re walking down the barn aisle. Make sure you have clipped and bathed him, so he looks his best. Even with a clean horse, the more you rub on their coats, the more that coat will shine, and a nice, healthy, shiny appearance is always a good selling point.
If your horse is high strung and tends to need a lot of “working down”, I would suggest either longeing or riding him that morning so he’s tired enough to behave well and won’t appear too energetic. Naturally, if a buyer is in the market for an endurance horse, you’ll want to play up those qualities, but don’t let your horse over do it! The key here is to explain fully to potential buyers just what your horse needs in the way of schooling or longeing, because you do not want to mislead them!!
One absolute rule in selling horses is to be honest. If the horse has faults, and they ALL do, mention them. If the horse has had any major injuries, illnesses or surgeries, disclose them. If you’re trying to sell your horse as a broodmare, provide a past breeding history -- and if you know the customer is in search of a breeding animal and you also know that your mare is as barren as the Sahara Desert, explain that to them before before they ever make the effort to come look at her. Don’t be afraid that you won’t get that horse sold if you tell a prospective buyer about his quirks, and never, ever administer any medications or tranquilizers to him before the customer comes to see him. Most buyers will greatly appreciate your honesty and if they’re genuinely interested in your horse, will come back and consider him seriously before making a purchase decision.
Another point of major importance to remember is this -- well trained, well schooled, well behaved, well kept and well presented horses sell much faster than horses who don’t possess any of those qualities. Also, keep in mind that the concept of “potential” is difficult to convey to most people. Any horse can have potential, but if you can prove to the buyer that your horse is exactly what they’re looking for, you have a far better chance of closing the sale.
A lot of people don’t want to put time and money into a horse they want to sell, but that’s exactly what you have to do in order to get him sold. If you’re trying to sell him as a show horse, yet he’s thirteen years old and he’s never been to a show in his entire life, chances are you won’t be getting any offers any time soon. Take him out and get him some show ring experience, even if it’s only at the small riding club’s local horse show -- at least you can prove that he has been a show horse before!
One final thought to ponder: Would you spend a lot of your hard earned money to buy a horse who didn’t look or act like exactly what you wanted? Most buyers who are in the market for a horse feel just that way. They want the most horse for their money, and when hanging a price tag on your horse it really pays to be realistic -- that’s probably the most important lesson of all!