Being an up-and-coming professional is pretty difficult in our business. Selling horses is one of the best ways for me to keep my business alive. I am not interested in being a “horse trader,” and I try very hard to train each horse fairly without pushing them just so I can get them sold quickly. I am interested in getting them going well, so that they will be successful in their future homes. Making good matches is something I love doing.
Throughout my time dealing with sales horses, I have made up my own set of rules that I think everyone should consider.
1. Be HONEST! There are so many stories of horrible experiences in the sales world. Lying only gives you a bad name, and it could put the horse and the buyer in a bad position at a later date. So many horses are misrepresented, and it just makes people more and more untrusting of sellers. My biggest pet peeve: Stick your horse and be honest about its height! I often say that most of the horse industry has no idea of exactly how tall their horses are. We’ve been told for so long that 16 hands is really 16.2, that our concept of true size has been lost.
2. Return e-mails/phone calls promptly. This is a buyer’s market. If you wait around and don’t reply, the buyer will just move on to someone who will. If you are serious about selling, be serious about following up.
3. Represent your horse as best you can. I know that it can be difficult to get good photos and video. Trust me, I struggle with this myself. However, picking a photo where the horse is jumping horribly over their shoulder or standing placidly in the field is just not a good way to draw in buyers. Even if the horse in question is not in work, at least clean it up and stand it up for a good conformation shot. Buyers do not want to waste their time traveling to try a horse. If you don’t represent it well in your ad, your horse will never get a chance.
4. Be open minded. There are people out there who are a good match to your horse. However, they may not have the exact amount of money that you are asking. If the match seems like a good one, be open to REASONABLE offers. I am definitely a seller who will bend my asking amount a bit if it means that the horse is going to the perfect home. Yes, selling horses is about making money, but to me, it’s also about doing what’s best for the horse.
1. Be realistic and fair. If your budget is $1500, people asking $5,000 are probably not open to your offer. Granted, some people have no real idea of what their horse is worth. However, it is not very respectful to e-mail someone with a $5,000 horse to ask if they will take $1500. I understand that it is a buyer’s market, but without ever having seen the horse, this can be upsetting to sellers. I am much more willing to negotiate some on the price if I have seen the horse with the buyer. Again, I realize that I would be even more frustrated if the buyer did not inform me of their low budget and came to try the horse before springing it on me. I think, for the most part, it is safe to say that buyers should research horses within $1,000 of their budget.
2. Be open-minded. There is no perfect color and their is no perfect height. There are some mares in the world who are not evil! The trend toward gigantic horses astounds me. I am 5’9″ and Bug is 16 hands. We do just fine. A smaller horse with a bigger barrel will sometimes fit a taller rider than a tall horse that is narrow. Though I am partial to redheads, I am open to any color. Do I want to spend hours scrubbing a grey horse? Not particularly. Am I going to pass on an exceptional horse because it’s grey? No. I have always been a gelding person, but I must say, my farm is full of mares right now, and they are all amazing girls. I think it’s easy to pass over a great horse because our minds are closed to certain things.
3. Respond to e-mails/phone calls promptly. If the seller has taken the time to get back to you quickly, please be respectful and do the same. I realize that life gets busy. If that happens, try to at least drop a quick line to say you will get back to them soon.
4. If you have requested pics, info, video, and the seller responds, please acknowledge that you got them. I send out info all of the time and never hear one word back from the buyer. If you don’t like the horse, please respond respectfully stating that you are not interested or don’t think it would be a good match. The seller won’t be upset that you don’t like the horse, and they will appreciate that you took the time to respond when they took the time to give you the info you wanted.
5. Be honest. When you are talking with the seller about what you need in a horse, don’t embellish. Good sellers really want to make a good match. They need to know exactly how well you ride and what you are interested in doing with the horse. It is fair to everyone involved if you are up front from the beginning.
I think this little set of rules helps everyone involved in the buying/selling business. I am sure there are many other rules out there that I haven’t listed.
What rules do you have for buying and selling horses, Eventing Nation??