When selling a horse, your priority should always be that the home he goes to is suitable and sufficiently experienced to give him the best chance of settling in well and enjoying a happy future with his new owners. But how do you also secure the best price for him too?
Good manners are vital. Potential buyers will be put off by a horse that barges them in the stable, refuses to stand while they mount up or nips when his girth is fastened. Also teach him to trot up properly without dragging you off your feet or dawdling behind with his ears back refusing to trot out! Time spent teaching manners is a very worthwhile investment.
Before you even advertise your horse for sale, make sure he is 100 percent sound and in good condition; neither too fat nor too thin. Get his vaccinations up to date, worm him and have his teeth checked. A much better impression is created too if his feet are neat and tidy and he is not weeks overdue for the farrier's attention. It's very off-putting to view a horse whose feet are overlong and whose shoes are hanging off.
When you draft your advertisement do aim him at the right audience and always be honest. If he is not suitable for a novice; say so! If you tell potential purchasers that he jumps for fun when you know that he won't go near fillers or water trays, you are just going to waste other people's time and your own. You must also be realistic about the value he is likely to achieve in the current market. He may be the most wonderfully talented equine in the universe to you, but to a potential buyer he's just one of many similar types and overpricing him is pointless.
Clear, flattering photographs of your horse taken from various angles are very important. Include some action shots if you have some. A video is also an extremely useful sales tool. It's a good idea to show several different people riding your horse too rather than just you. This shows his versatility and demonstrates that he goes nicely for others and not just for his regular rider.
Once the advertisement has been placed, you must be able to answer any questions potential purchasers are likely to have about his history. Do your homework and always be totally honest about any issues he may have had that you are aware of.
Unless your horse is a 'specialist', he should be able to demonstrate a reasonable level of competence both on the flat and over small fences of different types as most people will be looking for an all-rounder they can do a bit of everything on. If you aren't confident jumping him, ask your instructor to ride him and brush up his skills for you. Similarly, if you hate dressage, ask someone who loves it to school him for you. It's also useful to have him taken out to a few small local shows or training clinics if you can. Do plenty of hacking out both on and off road and ensure that you can ride your horse safely in open fields. Remember, the more experience your horse has, the more desirable he will be to a potential new owner.
First impressions really do count. Spend time grooming, trimming and clipping (depending on the time of year). A nicely pulled mane and trimmed, tangle free tail really do make a difference. I would also make sure that the horse's stable is clean and tidy so that your buyer doesn't have to squelch through a stinky bed and I would put a clean, smart rug on him too. His ancient, comfy pyjamas with a large dried poo stain on the backside are not a good look!
Clean his tack, make sure that it fits him properly and that it's comfortable to the rider too! A grubby, sweat-stained saddle cloth and a bit encrusted with dried grass and bits of food will not create a good impression!
Good trial facilities are important. Potential buyers will probably want to see the horse working on the flat and over fences. If your yard has very limited facilities, it might actually be worth hiring somewhere nearby to demonstrate your horse. You may even consider placing the horse with a professional sales yard. A professional rider will then present him to buyers for you which could create a really good impression, although you will need to take into account the cost of such an option weighed against the amount you expect to get from the sale.
Finally, ensure that your horse will load into both a trailer and a lorry. A horse that's problematic to load is not a desirable purchase, especially if the buyer wants to compete or needs to travel to lessons.
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